The Presidential Candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Oby Ezekwesili has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to admit that his government does not have the answers to the myriads of questions to building a prosperous Nigeria.
Oby Ezekwesili made the call while reacting to a statement which the Presidency warned that the nation will be facing tougher times ahead, thus urging Nigerians to brace up.
According to the former Minister of Education who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, there have been several unheeded warnings that the nation’s general direction of economic policy is not helpful to the primary goal of assuring higher growth in the economy.
Ezekwesili said: “Higher growth is the basis on which you can tackle poverty, and higher growth is also the basis upon which you can unlock opportunities for prosperity.
“I don’t know whether you say better late than never, because right now the best thing that the President can do honorably is to admit that he doesn’t have the answers.”
She noted that the President has realised how fundamental the economic policy of the government has not enabled the private sector to be pivotal to the kind of broad-based growth that was necessary.
The co-founder of Transparency International, however, disclosed that under her government what will be done differently will be to put the “private sector at the center of our economic drive”.
She opined that “If we want to create sustainable and broad-based growth, what government must do is to become the engine room of intelligent found economic policies, fiscal policies and monetary policies”.
President Muhammadu Buhari has hailed the state of the Nigerian economy, promising that his administration will continue to implement policies that will strengthen it.
The President spoke about the nation’s economy on Thursday after receiving the letter of credence from the new Ambassador of Denmark, Mr Jesper Kamp, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
‘‘The Nigerian economy is looking good and we look forward to making it better,’’ President Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.
President Buhari Buhari told Kamp that he was pleased that the ties between Nigeria and Denmark have remained strong.
He, however, said there was the need to strengthen the ties, explaining that Nigeria was looking at boosting ties with other countries, especially in the areas of agriculture and trade.
The President also received Letters of Credence from Major General (Retd) Waqar Kingravi, the new High Commissioner of Pakistan to Nigeria; Mr Babacar Ndiaye, the new Ambassador of Senegal to Nigeria; and Mr Vyacheslav Beskosky, the new Ambassador of Belarus to Nigeria.
He described the long-standing military cooperation between Nigeria and Pakistan as very commendable and beneficial to both countries.
‘‘Given the vast experience of the Pakistani military, your commitment in assisting us to develop our military is commendable,’’ President Buhari told the Pakistani High Commissioner:
He recalled that as a former military officer, several of his colleagues who trained in Pakistan still have very fond memories of the country.
While receiving the Senegalese Ambassador, President Buhari commended President Macky Sall of Senegal for his roles in the progress achieved in the political process in Guinea Bissau.
He said he was aware of the economic progress taking place in Senegal, and stressed the need for stability in the West African region to ensure rapid socio-economic development, particularly in the key areas of education, health, and infrastructure.
‘‘The bigger we are the bigger the problems, so we must continue to do our best to surmount our challenges in the region,’’ President Buhari, who is also the current Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government, told the Senegalese envoy.
Meanwhile, President Buhari told the Belarus ambassador that there was the need for improved economic ties between Nigeria and his country.
He commended the Eastern European country for accommodating international students from Nigeria in their tertiary institutions.
The President wished the four Ambassadors very successful tenures, reiterating Nigeria’s commitment to continue to partner with their countries in areas of mutual concerns.
Nigerians should leverage on the current economic recession to come up with entrepreneurship ideas that can change their individual lives and the country.
This was the conclusion of a panel of discussants at the 2016 global entrepreneurship week held in Osogbo, the Osun state capital.
To ensure that Nigerians maximize the opportunities that abound in the country’s current situation, experts gathered at a one day global entrepreneurship event tagged “Osun Entrepreneurs and the Management of Recession” to redirect the mindset of people towards utilizing these opportunities.
The event came at a time Nigerians are grappling with the negative impacts the economic recession is having on businesses, government programmes and projects and by extension their daily lives.
For the Chairman of Osun State House of Assembly Committee on Commerce, Babatunde Olatunji, if Nigeria must come out of recession, its citizenry must be ready to do things differently.
“You will all agree with me that if we want to get out of recession, we all need to cultivate entrepreneurial skills.
“We all need to do things differently, to be productive and add value and as a people, both leaders and followers must synergize and cooperate.
“There is no microwave solution to economic prosperity of people, society than to work for it.
“Whatever you don’t work for is not sustainable. Leaders must play their roles, followers must play theirs for the country to bounce back,” he said.
Similarly, an entrepreneur and participant at the event, Bukola Idowu, was also of the view that the way to go is to be innovative and develop individual entrepreneurial skills.
He said: “During recession, it is just the money that is being affected, opportunities remain the same.
“The opportunity is still there but the money is not there, which invariably means in Nigeria today despite the recession, we still have oil, we still have all our mineral resources, our lands are still fertile, we can still go into agriculture.
“All we need to do is to begin to look at how we can harness our resources to attract money.”
The global entrepreneurship week is a platform for connection that helps millions of people develop ideas that can strengthen economic stability around the world.
Economic experts are meeting at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru in Jos, north central Nigeria to discuss and proffer solutions to the economic recession with a view on the immediate, short and long time recipes.
The three-day think-tank conference is looking at recession to recovery and growth with discussions on policy options for the Nigerian economy with experts from the organised business and the academia as discussants.
Eminent economists, policy analysts, corporate leaders in the banking and financial sector, the academia, civil society as well as captains of industry and parliamentarians are brainstorming on the theme: ‘From Recession to Recovery and Growth: Policy Options for The Nigerian Economy’.
Setting the tone for discussants at the conference, Chairman, Senate Committee On Governmental Affairs and chairman of the occasion, Senator Tijani Kaura, challenged the gathering to come out with practicable solutions that will take the country out of the economic woods and proffer policies that will make the economy to be buoyant again.
A former deputy governor of the Central Bank, Dr Obadiah Mailafia; the Head of Economics Department at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof. Stella Madueme and the Executive Director of Capital Markets in the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Haruna Jalo-Waziri also gave recommendations on what should be done in revamping the economy.
The experts appealed to the federal government to harmonise and coordinate various agencies and suggestions being proffered in addressing the economic recession in the country including the outcome of the conference that is ongoing.
The Nigerian Air Force Officers Wives Association (NAFOWA), has been training widows of deceased Air Force personnel and youths in different skills.
The training programme commenced on June 20 with 165 participants.
Most of the trainees were those whose husbands or parents died while fighting insurgents in the northeast region of Nigeria. The rest were from the barracks and host communities.
They were trained in tailoring, beads making, shoe making, ICT, catering, hairdressing, barbing among others skills.
The participants also received starter packs to enable them become successful in their chosen career.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony of the trainees at the Air Force base in Kaduna state, President of the association and wife of the Chief of Air Staff, Mrs Hafsat Abubakar, said that the training programme was to compliment the federal government’s effort in tackling unemployment and youth restiveness in the country.
She explained that the programme was designed to help build entrepreneurial skills among youths and women in the barracks, with a view to making them self-sufficient and useful to the society.
According to her, the current decline of the Nigerian economy makes it necessary for women and youths not to rely solely on white collar jobs, but to look for alternative sources of engaging themselves meaningfully through capacity building and skill acquisition.
Wife of the governor of Kaduna state, Mrs Hadiza El-Rufai, commended NAFOWA for initiating the training programme which she said would add immense value to the empowerment of youths and indigent women in the state.
She urged the beneficiaries to make use of the opportunity and develop themselves.
The Chief of Air Staff, who was represented by the Chief of Administration, Nigerian Air Force headquarters, Air Vice Marshal Ajibola Jekenu, also commended NAFOWA.
He said that the service had also initiated some programmes aimed at touching the lives of indigent persons in the barracks and host communities.
Some of the beneficiaries expressed optimism that the training they have received would help them in becoming self-reliant and better equipped to support their families.
The Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, says he sees a brighter future for Nigeria despite the current recession.
Making comments about the present economic situation, Governor Ayade stressed that this it was a time for Nigerians to think and go beyond the scope of their normal lifestyle.
He urged Nigerians to focus on reconstructing a new economy, new lifestyle, new consumption pattern that could take Nigeria out of the woods.
The Governor added that, “at a time such as this, only quality ideas can survive a society that is challenged and threatened by economic downturn”.
Nigeria’s economy had glided into recession, with a report of the the National Bureau of Statistics showing that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has contracted by 2.06% in the second quarter of 2016
According to the report by the agency, the decline has caused the Naira to get weaker while lower oil prices dragged the oil sector down.
The over 60 per cent hike in the price of cement is causing huge scare for builders in Nigeria, as recession bites hard.
In the last few weeks, the price of the product has increased from 1,500 Naira to as high as 2,500 Naira.
The unexpected increase in price has been generating reactions from citizens of the nation that has huge housing deficit.
In Ilorin, in the South-west Region, people who need cement for different purposes are asking the Nigerian government to set up a cement factory to check the incessant increase due to monopoly.
An architect at the site of a shopping complex construction, Christopher Okebuko, lamented that the increase from 1,500 Naira last two weeks to 2,500 Naira has affected the cost of the project.
“I cannot go back for project variation now,” he said.
Slid Into Recession
Other people also lamented how the new price has affected them.
A civil servant, Olanrewaju Ahmed, said he had borrowed money to buy the building materials in order to complete his personal house.
He asked the government to intervene in the situation triggered by the nation’s economy that has slid into recession.
Mr Ahmed believes such intervention would reduce the sufferings of the masses.
In another part of the nation, Asaba, the capital of Delta State, sales persons at Chinedu Oko Building Materials Plaza along the Asaba-Onitsha expressway, lamented drastic reduction in sales and income.
Construction workers, however, believes that industrialisation and patronage of made in Nigeria goods would help reduce the pressure on the Naira which would in turn revamp the economy.
Figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics on August 31 showed that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by 2.06% in the second quarter of 2016
According to the report, the decline has caused the Naira to get weaker while lower oil prices dragged the oil sector down.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday told U.S. Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, that he would institutionalise the anti-corruption crusade to ensure it lasts beyond the current administration.
At a meeting with Mr Kerry in Abuja, the President said his administration “will insist on the standards it is establishing”.
“We are laying down administrative and financial instructions in the public service that must be obeyed.
“Any breach will no longer be acceptable.
“We will retrain our staff, so that they understand the new orientation.
“And those who run afoul of these rules will be prosecuted, no matter who is involved,” he stressed.
He, however, stated that the government would be fair, just and act according to the rule of law, assuring the American envoy that “anyone perceived corrupt is innocent till we can prove it”.
President Buhari said that his administration would work very hard to establish documentation for successful prosecution and that those in positions of trust would sit up.
He appreciated the intervention of the U.S. before the 2015 polls, demanding free and fair elections in Nigeria, stressing that “America did not do it because of what it stands to benefit from us. You did it for the Nigerian people.
“It tells so much what the U.S. stands for in the world”.
On the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast, President Buhari thanked the U.S. for both hard and soft military help.
“The training and intelligence that we could not muster ourselves, we received.
“The training has made Boko Haram less of a threat to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region, while the military hardware has given our troops added confidence,” he told Mr Kerry.
Militancy In Niger Delta
President Buhari said although Militancy in the Niger Delta had impacted negatively on the nation’s economy and affected the positive intentions of international and local investors, the government was showing restraint not to use real force, “except when constrained to do so”.
On the economy, the President assured the American envoy that the focus of his administration was on the diversification of the economy “having learnt our lessons from years of over dependence on oil”.
Ready-made Playing Field
Mr Kerry commended the courage of President Buhari in fighting corruption.
He said: “We applaud what you are doing. Corruption creates a ready-made playing field for recruiting extremists.
“You inherited a big problem, and we will support you in any way we can. We will work with you very closely.
“We don’t want to interfere, but will offer opportunities as you require”.
The American Secretary of State also pledged to assist in tackling the humanitarian challenges in the North-east, assuring the Nigerian President that his country would get the UK, France, and others “to augment the support”.
“Nigeria is priority for us. We won’t miss the opportunity to work together, because you are making significant progress,” Mr Kerry said.
After the meeting with the President, the American envoy is met with some governors from the northern part of Nigeria.
They are governors of Borno, Benue, Kwara, Bauchi, Adamawa, Sokoto and Zamfara.
Earlier at a meeting with the Sultan of Sokoto, Mr Kerry stressed the need for the fight against corruption to be a global security of the first order to bring violent extremism to an end.
Delivering a speech on Resilient Communities and Religious Tolerance in Countering Violent Extremism, Mr Kerry said extremists do not only kill people but also turn the most vulnerable among the society into killers.
The Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelama, on Tuesday said the federal government is following the guidelines of the policies around sectors with “comparative or relative advantage” to diversify the economy.
“These sectors range from agro-processing, where we are making sure that all the input materials, be they capital equipment or raw materials, have concessions.
“The only thing is that the concessions were abused in the past. So the work right now is to make sure that the genuine ones get it and that’s an important difference,” he said while speaking on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television’s programme.
He further said that as these policies were implemented with more rigour, discipline and clarity, “you will create a better economy going forward”.
The Minister also stated that the President had directed that a Presidential Business Environment Enabling Council, Chaired by the Vice President, should be set up. The Council will focus majorly on Ease of Doing Business and making Nigeria more attractive.
He noted that “Nigeria has been sliding in terms of the Ease of Doing Business Index of the World Bank to the point where we are rated 169 out of a little over 180 countries”, promising that this administration will reverse the trend.
“But there are specific things to do, which we are doing, and those things will lead to a difference. There is a Presidential Council, which is inter-ministerial and we are meeting on it and we are going to use the National Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) as a secretariat and I am confident you will see the results.
“We are going to work with the private sector. We have identified a private sector lead that will be announced soon that is going to be the head of this whole Ease of Business Enabling Environment Forum.
“We have identified someone who led it in another country; Georgia, who is the former Prime Minister, who has come to help us,” he explained, insisting that “there are several things that we have done, which when we roll out, I am confident we will get the results”.
He noted that the government would improve by 20 points after a year and move to within the top 100 at the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s term in 2019.
He expressed strong belief that if the country should focus on bettering the Ease of Doing Business, things will change for the better. He, however, noted that it was a process and urged Nigerians to be patient, as there were so many challenges to be addressed.
Fixing The Airports
The Minister further noted that the government was giving priority to giving the country’s airports a better look.
“Our commitment to you is that you are going to see it all rolled out over the next few weeks. The entry process is one plank of what we are doing, in terms of visas, arrival and departure experience. All that will change for the better,” he said.
The Minister, however, pointed out that the time frame should not be of importance.
“The important thing is that it should be done. What is worth doing is worth doing well and that is what we are doing,” he added.