President Muhammadu Buhari has felicitated with distinguished businesswoman, banker, economist and accountant, Otunba Ayora (Dr.) Bola Kuforiji-Olubi, OON, who recently clocked 80.
The President recalled the former minister’s decades of distinguished career in the private and public sectors of national life.
He noted that the contributions of the first female chairman of one of the first generation banks in Nigeria, UBA, would remain inspiring to the younger generation.
“It is not surprising that she is a proud and well-deserved recipient of the National Honour, fellowships, awards and honorary degrees from within and outside the country,” he said.
President Buhari particularly expressed delight that the economist had remained a pace-setter and leader in banking, manufacturing and entrepreneurship not only in Nigeria, but also in Sub-Saharan Africa.
He noted that God has been kind to her and prayed for continued health as well as longer life for the octogenarian, author and philanthropist to “enable the nation and humanity benefit from her wisdom and wealth of experience”.
An economist, Bismarck Rewane, has identified real issues in the 2016 budget that Nigerians and the parliamentarians must focus on and address in good time.
Mr Rewane stressed the need for the lawmakers to accelerate the budget debate and passage to stimulate the Nigerian economy, saying that there was “no time to be wasted playing around with the budget document”.
“Nigerians and the parliamentarians must understand the difference between what is important and what is urgent.
“There is no pure budget document.
“Approve those things that you are comfortable with and the things that you are not comfortable with, throw them back to the ministries to do what they have to do. We cannot afford to wait.
“You have to stimulate this economy into growth,” the economist stressed.
He agreed that some of the details of the budget could be frivolous, but emphasised that the real issues should be the focus of the government.
“The debate at this time should be; is $38 a reasonable and realistic oil benchmark? Is it possible that we can produce 2.2 million barrels of oil per day when our quota is 1.7 and our actual production is 1.8 million? That is almost a 20 per cent deviation from the estimate.
“Is the deficit going to be 2.2 trillion Naira when the price of oil has dropped and our revenue has dropped by 30 per cent? How are we going to fill the gap? Are we going to borrow? If we are going to borrow almost 2.3 trillion, where is the shortfall going to come from? These are the things we should be talking about,” Mr Rewane questioned, pointing out the contentious areas in the budget.
The spokesman for the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, said that the National Assembly would do its best to ensure that the budget that would be passed would be acceptable to all Nigerians.
He said that timing was not much an issue, explaining that the National Assembly had amended the appropriation of 2015 for the capital expenditure to run till March 31, 2015.
“Even if this budget is passed on 25 February, it will not take effect until first of April. I think we still have time on our hands and we are going to work on that very well.
“On Friday, the session with MDAs [Ministries Department and Agencies] will end and committees will start to meet with the appropriation committee and see how this thing will work,” the lawmaker stated.
He said that the parliament had decided to amend the timing and extend it to March 31 in view of the time that the 2015 appropriation would elapse.
The Imo State Government has promised to create over 12,000 jobs for its unemployed youths within the next two years through agriculture.
The State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, disclosed this in Istanbul, Republic of Turkey, after a 4-day business trip to Turkey.
Leading a delegation of businessmen from the state and some other top government functionaries, the Governor said that cardinal in his industrialization plan for Imo State, is to develop agriculture as a viable alternative to oil.
“It is necessary at this point to think more of agriculture as the mainstay of the economy which can serve as the only alternative to oil which keeps falling in value every day”, the governor said.
The Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Rt Honourable Acho Ihim, who was also part of the delegation, said lawmakers in the state have put in place relevant laws that will be suitable for investors to partner with the state government in her industrialization programmes.
Some other top government functionaries and Imo businessmen, who were also on the delegation, commended the Okorocha-led administration for the initiative of partnering with Turkey to industrialize the state and create more jobs for unemployed youths in the state, especially through the development of sustainable agricultural programme in all the communities of the state.
With a population of a little above 77 million as at December 2014, the agricultural sector of Turkey has been the largest employer of labour.
According to recent publication by IMF and the Economist, Turkey has become one of the few countries in the world that is self-sufficient in terms of food and also one of the largest producer and exporter of agricultural products in Europe and around the world.
Fidelity Bank Plc has said it would continue to support trade and investment between Nigeria and the Netherlands as the nation awaits possible changes in government policies.
Speaking at a luncheon of the Nigerian Netherlands Chamber of Commerce in Lagos, the Managing Director of the bank, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, welcomed the intentions of members of the Chamber to increase investments in all sectors of the nation’s economy, as it has done with the volume of trade.
Fidelity Bank promises to always be there to support every kind of business between the two countries (Nigeria and Netherlands).
During the luncheon, the NNCC expressed optimism in the opportunities that the change of government holds for the country and it’s business allies.
A renowned economist, Bismark Rewane, also presented a business and economic outlook to the audience.
Established in 1978, The Nigerian Netherlands Chamber of Commerce has contributed to Nigeria’s economy with trade volumes hitting around 7 billion Euros per annum.
Sectors in which the Nigerian Netherlands Chamber of Commerce hopes to invest hugely include agriculture, education, infrastructure and alternative power.
The Chamber says its main objective is to promote and protect trade, agriculture and industrial relations between the Netherlands and Nigeria .
While the elections dominate public spheres, some government officials have cautioned that certain issues should not be reduced to campaign tactics.
Speaking in London recently on electricity, Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, told journalists that power generation in the country is beyond 4,000 megawatts regardless of contrary speculations but admitted that consistent power supply would still take years to attain, regardless of the administration in office.
It was a meeting with Nigerians resident in London, and the Minister decried the spate of sabotage on gas pipelines as one of the factors restricting further progress.
For him, the solution lies first in dealing with the spate of gas pipeline vandalism then attracting more private funds to the sector.
According to Prof Nebo, moving forward requires alternatives that can support the National Integrated Power Projects, some of which take at least four years to materialise. The same goes for transmission.
Responding to the expectations of 24-hour electricity supply, the Minister said that this was not attainable even in four years, regardless of the administration in power.
However, he promised significant improvement with the efforts in progress.
Sub Sahara Africa Economist at the Bank of America, Oyin Anubi, also explained how power currently impacts on the nation’s economic outlook internationally.
British born but of Nigerian descent, she admitted that several visits to the country reveals the difficulties many citizens grapple with. She gave recommendations on how to deal with the challenge.
The general belief at the event was that while the big plan unfolds, smaller incentives and new alternatives are clearly needed.
An Economist, Dr. Doyin Salami, says that the Lagos Economic Summit is centered around power infrastructure and how power can be used to drive the major sectors of the economy.
Dr. Salami, who is a delegated at the Lagos Economic Summit, said that the Centre for Competitiveness and Strategy of Lagos Business School was partnering with the Lagos State government on competitiveness and strategy and would also look at areas where there might be competitiveness concerns in order to address them.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Dr. Salami explained that the key mandate of the centre was focused on ensuring adequate competitiveness of firms, businesses in different part of the state affected positively or negatively by the state’s policies or actions.
“We are interested on how companies react to government policies and their environment to ensure that they remain competitive,” Dr Samali also pointed out.
He said that the summit came into existence in 1999 with the inception of the civilian administration and a means to interact and dialogue with the private sector.
“Lagos has recorded a huge success in terms of business competition,” he said.
He further noted that the summit offers an opportunity for accountability, stating that at the beginning of the summit there is a review of the last summit that was held to evaluated the level of the implementation and the challenges surrounding implementation.
“There is a kind of a feedback loop and it is a strategy that helps in ensuring that the summit makes the needed impact,” he said.
An Economist, Dr Abiodun Adedipe, on Saturday said that the controversial suspension of the CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi, is “a very critical issue for our economy” stressing that the manner in which the act was carried out will affect the economy and that the Federal Government’ s claim that it wouldn’t is merely a ‘political statement.’
Speaking on Sunrise (Saturday), Dr Adedipe said “Immediately that pronouncement was made, the exchange rate market began to react. Also the stock market started to react,” maintaining that macroeconomic indices began to move in adverse directions.
According to him “the major issue is new capital formation “which is simply new investment.” He added that “any investor, whether domestic or foreign, will naturally look at the development and say it is not the time for me to put in fresh money.”
“Ultimately, if we get back on track, that little space of time where we lost momentum willensure that the prospect for growth that the economy had at the beginning of the year will certainly fall short by the end of the year.”
He stressed that the position of the CBN Governor is very key to the financial industry and the national economy hence comments made by the person in the position are important and are key indicators of the direction of policy and response of the system to developments in the economic space.
“Whatever actions are taken or utterance made by such a person is a reflection of the data and information available to him.
The way the government deals with whoever is in that position becomes important and that is why in my opinion, the government has not handled it in a way that will help this economy.”
While speaking on the programme, Social Commentator, Biodun Sowunmi, said that, that the suspended CBN governor erred “may not necessarily be in doubt”
“The fact of the matter is that there are so many allegations made against Sanusi. Whether they are right or not, we don’t know because it has not been investigated.
However, “where people have problems now is not whether there are no issues, indictments against Sanusi. They are mere allegations which have not been investigated. The real issue is whether the president has the powers under the law to suspend Sanusi.”
He stressed that the president has a right to appoint, nominate while the Senate confirms. “That means the President is sharing that authority with Senate and when it comes to the issue of removal, it’s only under section 1F that made an explicit provision that you can only remove the governor of Central Bank if for instance the President recommends the removal and is backed by two-thirds of the Senate.”
He continued by saying “interestingly, there’s only one aspect of section 11 that made reference to removal. The section relating to that is section 11(1)(D), you can only be suspended from office if the professional body that he belongs to finds him guilty of one thing or the other.
“There’s no provision for suspension, there’s only provision for removal and you can only suspend somebody if he has been found guilty by his professional body. That is not the case.”
He attributed the suspension to the president’s desire to accelerate his transformation agenda.
A public affairs analyst and lecturer at the Pan African University, Austin Nweze on Tuesday said the National Economic Summit Group (NESG) is yet to develop a clear competitive strategy that will make Nigeria one of the top economies in the world.
Mr Nweze, who was a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, said since Nigeria’s economy dominates others in West Africa, the country needs to develop a strategy that will show this dominance.
“I want them to come out of this Summit with a clear strategy that two three areas where Nigeria can compete,” he said.
Austin Nweze, an Economist in Budget and Financial Planning and lecturer at the Pan-African University, Lagos has proposed a 5-year budget plan as a strategy that would allow the effective implementation of projects that require long-term execution.
He said the implementation of annual budget plan is not feasible in a developing economy like Nigeria.
Mr Nweze who appeared on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, also suggested the National Assembly should set up a committee with the oversight function of constant monitoring of government offices and parastatals involved in the execution of capital projects.