Pat Utomi Seeks Policy To Assist Nigerian Youths Create Wealth

Pat-UtomiThe Nigerian government has been advised to address the issue of youth unemployment through the introduction of a youth policy that will assist them to become employers of labour and wealth creators.

Speaking in Abuja at the 2016 Catholic Singles Conference, the co-founder of Pan Atlantic University and Professor of Political Economy, Pat Utomi, said Nigerian youths could be financially independent.

But he stressed the need for the Federal Government to create the right atmosphere for young entrepreneurs to thrive.

He said: “We don’t have appropriate policies and the right institutions to support small enterprises and provide financial support, not in the way of people coming to get their own share of the national cake like we have had in the past.

“Where commercially minded people are managing funds which the government and everybody else can support, they can get people who have the requisite skills to invest in enterprises,” Professor Utomi stressed.

Market-in-Lagos-State
Young Nigerians making efforts to create jobs for themselves at markets

He advised youths to look beyond seeking paid employment at all times by exploring opportunities that would turn them into successful entrepreneurs.

“Young people should see themselves much more as creators of wealth rather than people who get hired.

“If they see themselves that way, networks that are developing can provide them the opportunities to look for how they can be wealth creators.

“They should persevere. If you get hit once and you fall and roll over, you are not an entrepreneur.

“There is a Japanese saying that says that an entrepreneur is a man who falls seven times and gets up eight times. Many of us when we fall we roll over and play dead,” he emphasised.

This advice is coming at a time that many Nigerian graduates are without job and a period the nation is facing grave economic hardship.

Nigeria’s economic recession was officially proclaimed in a report of the National Bureau of Statistics that showed a contract of 2.06% in the Gross Domestic Product of the oil-rich nation in the second quarter of 2016.

The report showed that the decline had made the Naira weaker while lower oil prices dragged the oil sector down.

The output shrunk by 0.36 in the first quarter.

During the quarter, nominal GDP was 2.73% higher at 23.48 million Naira at basic prices.

This growth was lower than the rate recorded in the second quarter of 2015 by 2.44% points.

The government is more than ever before pushing for economic diversification, paying more attention to agriculture that had been the nation’s economic mainstay before the discovery of crude oil, to reflate the economy.

Critics have advised the government to act fast and change the tide to save the nation from unforeseen circumstances, considering the number of youths that are unemployed.

Nigeria’s System Of Government Is Not Sustainable, Restructuring Is Necessary – Nwaeze

Austin-NwaezeAn economist, Dr. Austin Nwaeze, has stressed the need for a restructuring of the system of government that Nigeria is practicing, saying the current system is not sustainable.

The lecturer with the Pan Atlantic University told Channels Television on Tuesday that the Presidential System of Government was too expensive and should be dropped.

“We need to restructure the states. We are carrying excess as if we are a developing state.

“We need to really trim down the size of government and then encourage people to go into industries and make policies that will encourage industries to employ more people.

“There is no developing economy that runs the system that we run and grows the way it should grow.

“All the other nations that have grown came from a system that they could manage and gradually grow.

“The system we run is for a developed economy which they use to stabilise the system,” he insisted.

Home-grown System

Dr. Nwaeze suggested that Nigeria should have a home-grown system and not a presidential system of government, stating that it was part of their suggestion at the National Conference held by the last administration, which recommendations have not been implemented.

“We have suggested that we should run a system that does not have two arms of legislature – the Senate and the House of Representatives,” he said, citing a recommendation made by the conference.

He suggested that the number of legislators should be 36, one representing each state, with the number of ministers further reduced to five.

“Eighty per cent of what is paid in the National Assembly for instance is personnel cost,” he said.

On how the restructuring could be achieved, he said it could be done with sincerity of heart and with the push from the executive for the legislature to, through laws, restructure the system and strengthen the institutions which drive economic growth.

On the proposal for a new minimum wage of 56,000 Naira by the labour unions, he also suggested that policies should be made to encourage production within Nigeria so that the wage of workers would be enough at all times to purchase goods.

The economist pointed out that if wage was increased, the inflation rate would still remain on the increase since most of the items used in Nigeria were imported.

He stated that with such situation the new wage if paid would not have a direct impact on the nation’s economy.

Petrol Price Reduction: Transport Workers In Abia To Reduce Fare

PetrolThe Chairman of Abia State Chapter of National Union of Road Transport Workers, Sunny Nwakodo, has said that there is the likelihood to reduce the prices of transport in the state.

This is in line with the decision of the Federal Government to reduce the pump price of petrol from 97 naira to 87 naira per litre.

According to him, if all the petrol stations in the state abide by this new pump price, commuters would have a cause to smile as the union would do all within its ability to bring down fare.

While some of the petrol stations in the state, visited by Channels Television, have started selling at the new price, others have not changed their prices.

According to them, their inability to sell was because they were waiting for orders from the management to revert to the new price.

Some of them also claimed that they bought the fuel at the former price and the turn of event might affect their profit margin.

This has led to the NNPC mega Station being besieged with several vehicles.

Although many commuters expressed the view that the Federal Government’s decision to reduce petrol pump price was to draw attention for campaign purposes, a large number of them also think otherwise.

Some of the consumers who spoke to us said that the action taken by the government to reduce petrol pump price was commendable.

Many were pleased to buy their petrol at the new price of 87 naira per litre.

New Petrol Price Will Not Immediately Affect Common Man – Nweze

petrolA Professor at the Pan Atlantic University, Austin Nweze, believes that the Nigerian Government’s reduction of the pump price of petrol is a welcome development considering it came without a fight from Nigerians.

He, however, added that how long this would last remains something to ponder on as there are several factors that determine the prices of petroleum products.

Speaking on Sunrise Daily, he noted that the reduction of the pump price of petrol was a consequence of global drop in the price of crude oil, and wondered if the pump price in Nigeria would be raised again when global crude price goes up.

While sharing the view that it was not yet time to celebrate a permanent reduction, he also noted that such reduction would not affect majority of Nigerians as commuters would still be paying the same amount they pay for transportation.

He admitted, although, that vehicle owners who buy petrol daily would immediately start to benefit.

Explaining the dynamics of the oil market, Nweze opined that this was a good opportunity for the Nigerian Government to completely remove subsidy and allow filling stations to sell at different prices.

To validate his suggestion, he stated that many towns in the South-Eastern part of the country had been buying petrol at different prices different from the former price of 97 naira per litre. Therefore a deregulation would not be strange.

He also noted that this could help develop local refineries and also encourage local entrepreneurs to invest in the sector rather the Nigerian economy being in the hands of foreigners.

Professor Nweze further emphasized the need to diversify the Nigerian economy.

Austin Nweze, who is also the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Ebonyi State, spoke briefly about his ambition and his chances of clinching the governorship seat in Ebonyi State in 2015.

Unemployment: Nigeria Needs More Venture Capital Firms – Nweze

Austin NwezeA professor at the Pan Atlantic University, Austin Nwaeze, has urged the Nigerian government to emulate Israel’s system of funding small businesses, which will in turn create more jobs for the largely unemployed populace.

“In Israel, as small as it is, they have close to (between) 240 and 300 venture capital firms. These are the people that can understand risks,” he said, noting that conventional banks do not have the capacity to understand such risks.

Following the recent announcement by the National Bureau of Statistics, about the number of jobs created in 2014, Nweze commended the agency for its pro activeness under the current government, noting that unemployment figures are needed to help the government plan and also make policies to improve sectors providing jobs.

He noted that the informal sector, which had created more jobs in the past two quarters, needed a lot of attention as “government cannot create jobs”. He stressed that it is “entrepreneurship that creates jobs.”

According to him, small business make up the “engine growth of any economy” and if they do not thrive, the economy is headed for a fall.
“So we need to begin to make policies that would make it possible for this sector to grow”, he noted, berating government’s method of “encouraging small businesses to grow.”

He noted that funds were not available to small businesses and the problem of multiple taxation had not been eliminated.

Although President Goodluck Jonathan recently launched the National Council On Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises to solve the prevailing problems, Nweze opined that the council would still demand “an arm and a leg” in exchange for loans.

“The thing is that, we are making a mistake by solving a problem by creating more problems. Now, until we begin to recognise the importance of Venture Capital firms, private equity firms.

“These are the people that will help. They have helped create finance businesses, encourage entrepreneurship.

 

Bayelsa State Investment Forum: SA Highlights Prospects

Bayelsa AkikaThe feedback from participants, the information taken away about Bayelsa State, as well as the number of agreements sealed with investors would be the yardsticks to measure the success of the 1st Bayelsa Investment and Economic Forum.

These were the words of the Special Adviser to the Bayelsa State Government on Investment, Cyril Akika, who spoke as a guest on Channels Television’s award-winning breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

He noted that the event would be used to bring in big time companies and to also set up Small Medium Enterprise (SME) funds for the SME program.

Mr Cyril explained that since the financial institutions in the country see Bayelsa not as a credit location, but more as a deposit location where they expect to get savings, current account, fixed deposit, public sector money and not give credit, “the essence of signing the SME fund is to raise 25million Naira which will only be available for SME development due to the difficulty in raising capital in Bayelsa.”

He also said that the fund is to attract and direct capital to Bayelsa people which the government has made easy by enabling better access to C of Os and setting up of Enterprise Development Centers in conjunction with the Pan Atlantic University in Lagos were all beneficiaries would pass through to get basic skills.

On the provision of collateral, he stated that farmers or business owners could present family farm lands in order to get funding from the organisation.

Explaining the interest rate which was put at 9%, he said that the figure would be distributed as 5% for cost of funds and the remaining 4% to be returned to the particular banks that participated in the scheme as they are expected to enjoy some benefits for the work they do.

On employment opportunities, the SA noted that about 10,000 opportunities would be created for indigenes and some of them would be taken to Italy to get better training between 3 years.

Mr Akika also hinted on the establishment of a new university in the state, which would be able to compete with other top universities of the world, as well as the development of already existing universities in the state.

He also said that a Memorandum of Understanding would be signed on gas terminal and a mini energy plant in order to provide better services in the state.

Two Nigerians To Participate In Obama’s #YALI

U.S. President Obama waves to students at Washington-Lee High School in VirginiaTwo young Nigerians; Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye and Olusegun Odunaiya have been chosen to join other young Africans to be a part of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative #YALI, in the United States of America.

Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye has over 10 years of experience as an investigative journalist on a variety of beats such as politics, crime, business, health and the environment. Ogunseye, who is the first female editor in the over 40-year history of Punch Newspaper (the most widely-read newspaper in Nigeria), is the Editor of the Sunday title Sunday Punch.

She holds a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Lagos, a PGD in Print Journalism from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, an M.Sc. in Media and Communication from the Pan-Atlantic University and is currently studying for a Ph.D. in Politics and International Relations at the University of Leicester.

Olusegun Odunaiya has more than six years of experience working in the renewable energy sector with a focus on solar energy systems. As the operations officer for Havenhill Synergy Limited (the business venture he started over four years ago) he directly oversees a project called “End Blackout” in rural communities.

The initiative which President Barack Obama announced last year June during his Town Hall Meeting with youths from African countries, will gather 500 young African leaders to the United States each year for leadership training and mentoring.

According to the first black American president, the fellowship, will invest in a new generation of young African leaders who are shaping the continent’s future, respond to the strong demand by young African leaders for practical skills that can help them take their work to the next level in the fields of public service and business, deepen partnerships and connections between the United States and Africa and build a prestigious network of young African leaders who are at the forefront of change and innovation in their respective sectors.

 

Nat’l Conference: Analyst Recommends Collegiate Presidency System Of Government

Austin NwezeDr. Austin Nweze of the Pan-Atlantic University has recommended the ‘college of presidents’ which he expects the National Conference to consider as a new system of government for Nigeria.

Nweze believes that the restructuring of Nigeria’s system of government and many other issues are of great importance for the National Conference to tackle; none of which they are yet to mention due to unresolved debates among the delegates.

He, however, was of the view that the issues affecting the start of business at the National Conference were normal considering that these were people from different backgrounds and orientations, noting that as soon as they sort out these differences, things would fall into place owing to the view that “many of the delegates do not know why they are there.”

He believes that the conference can achieve its purpose in 3 months, as long as they sort out all the issues.

On the possibility of an extension for the conference, he said that the closeness of the general elections should not be a problem, as politics should be secondary to the National Conference because it is a more important factor to move Nigeria forward.

On the views expressed by the Lamido of Adamawa, Muhammadu Barkindo Mustapha, who threatened to walk out from the conference, Nweze said that it was a good thing that he expressed those views as it showed how some Nigerians were thinking.

He added that the comments further highlighted the issue of the age bracket represented at the conference. He wondered why octogenarians would be discussing the future of a country without considering the people who would be in that future.

He berated the Northern elders for forcing their agenda on Nigerians, as he insisted that they were not representing the views of the younger generation of Northerners. He believed that the elders rather than focus on how to develop their region were more concerned about an agenda they had held for years.

Nweze said that the problem of Nigeria remained the same one that led the country into the civil war in the late 60s – fear of domination; and going back to the parliamentary system would not help the country because it failed before.

He spoke about his recommendation of the ‘college of presidents’ which he said has been sent in for consideration as a new system of government for Nigeria to eliminate the fear of regional and ethnic domination that has been drawing the country back.

He explained that the Collegiate Presidents would be made up of 6 persons representing the 6 Geo-political zones of the country. They would jointly have a 6-year tenure as President, during which they would take turns to lead the country for 1 year each while the 5 others handle portfolios that would eliminate the idea of having so many Ministers.

The Collegiate Presidency System Of Government also recommends not more than 72 people at the National Assembly that would be made up 2 persons representing each of the 36 states, as this will reduce the expenditure on governance for a developing economy like Nigeria’s.

He noted that this system of government would eliminate the issue of marginalization and create a more united people, adding that Nigeria cannot ignore its ethnicity as it is an important part of the country’s existence.

Dr. Autin Nweze was speaking on the Friday edition of Channels Television’s flagship breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

Cabinet Shuffle: President’s Political Life At Critical Stage – Nweze

A lecturer at the Pan Atlantic University, Austin Nweze, has attributed President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to sack four ministers, including former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, to the current status of the President’s political life, which he described as in a critical stage.

“This is a critical period in the President’s political life because of 2015 and just like we say we in business, it’s not those that help you start a business that will grow the business,” he said, adding that “it’s about time this change was made to enable him begin to look at 2015.”

Another reason he gave for the shake-up was a policy shift in what the administration wants to achieve which would necessitate the injection of new persons into the system.

“It’s normal in the life of any administration that at some point you need new ideas, new people that can add some variant into the policy implementation.”

He further urged the President to have fewer politicians and more technocrats in his cabinet, in order to help him make the economy better than it was.

“The economy is going to play a role in the next election so you need people that can really drive this economy and come up with policies that will turn around events to enable him be in a better state for 2015.”

Commenting on arguments that some ministries are not needed, especially the Ministry of Police Affairs and Ministry of the Niger Delta, Mr Nweze submitted that “the size of government is huge for our size of economy, so anything to trim down” is welcome.

According to the analyst, the creation of the said ministries was a duplication of already existing agencies handling similar tasks.

Asked if some of the ministers would be invited for questioning by anti-corruption agencies since they had been accused of corrupt practices whilst in office, Nweze said “it depends on what they do after now.”

He highlighted that the trend is that when a public officer leaves office and maintains a low profile, he or she is left alone. He however warned that “if other interests are at variance, like if you defect, you’ll see the agencies of EFCC and ICPC coming after them.”

Nigeria’s Economy Is A Reverse Of What Is Obtainable Globally- Economist

A lecturer from the Pan Atlantic University, Dr Austin Nweze today (Thursday) described Nigeria’s economy as the “reverse” of what is obtainable in other parts of the world.

Commenting on the increase of price on products and services during the Christmas period, Dr Nweze recounted his time as a student in Canada where “Christmas time is the best time to get things cheap; really really cheap”.

He said that there were usually so many discount, as “so many items are discounted just for the period” insisting that the end of the year should be “the best time to shop”.

He noted that in such climes, the Christmas period is regarded as “spending time” after saving from January to November period, which is regarded as “saving time”. He added that “even the stock exchanges feel the impact of the expenditures that go on during Christmas”.

He went on berating the discount tactic employed by retail and wholesale marketers in Nigeria.

“They will pretend to give discounts, but what they usually do is to increase the price first of all, and then (maybe) return it to a normal level or higher than the normal” maintaining that ‘’it is not supposed to be”.

Noting that a service economy is imperative, he berated the low impact manufacturing has made to the Nigerian economy which he pegged at 2.4 to 3 per cent compared to the United States of America’s 80 per cent.

Dr Nweze, quoting statistics from the International Trade Centre, said that by 2050, 80 per cent of the minimum global work force would be in services, which means “that you have to move from production to service” adding that “even when you are producing, you are also providing service; they work hand in hand”.

He further noted that Nigerians do not produce, he said “we consume too much” because “nobody is thinking of producing anything here,” a situation which he said also “extends to policy making”.

He advised policy makers to stop indulging in the habit of making policies that would not benefit the people because of the mode of operation used in implementing the policy. He said: “they make policies to encourage businesses, but they use the other hand to collect it back through interest rates”.

He said that if given the opportunity to run the economy, he would not “worry about inflation” but he would “make sure that the productive capacity of the nation; businesses are producing at the optimal level”.

He further said that he would look at other areas in the country and put in place a “factor-endowed based development strategy” to see what could be done to encourage production and manufacturing.

APC’s Distrust Of National Confab Is All Politics – Prof. Nweze

A public affairs analyst and Professor at the Pan Atlantic University in Lagos, Austin Nweze, on Thursday said that the All Progressives Congress is only playing politics by saying it has no trust in the proposed National Conference initiated by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The opposition party, particularly the APC, has voiced its distrust in the process but

Prof. Nweze insisted that it is all politics.

“There’s politics in this. Like the opposition saying that they don’t trust this man (Jonathan), it’s all about politics,” he said, adding that “the situation in Nigeria is so critical today that it should not be left in the hands of politicians alone.”

While speaking on Sunrise Daily, he stressed that the Conference is a “great opportunity for us to really restructure this nation,” adding that Nigerians need to show courage and take the risk.

The National Dialogue which many have clamoured for would not only help the citizens to discuss on how they want to be ruled, it will be a legacy recorded for President Jonthan should it hold, Nweze opined.

“If I were the president I will make sure that it holds because it will do him a lot of good. That’s the legacy he will leave for Nigerians beyond 2015 even if he doesn’t contest.”

Speaking on the timing of the Conference, which many have dubbed ‘wrong’ as it is too close to 2015, the election year; Prof. Nweze said he had no problem with it as it is long overdue.

Speaking on the level of representation, Prof. Nweze stressed that the middle class in any society is largely saddled with determining the way forward for the nation.

“The middle class determines the direction for the nation and thereafter “communicate with the grass root, to support, for that nation to move forward.”

Although he expressed belief that the National Dialogue would be a means of addressing issues bedeviling the nation but added that it may not change as the nation may return to status quo. “‘Self-interest’ would be a major problem,” Nweze emphasised.

He admonished politicians to put aside their political leanings for the benefit of the nation.

Jonathan Midterm Report: Nweze Analyzes The Good And Bad

An economist and Professor at Pan Atlantic University, Austin Nweze, has said that President Goodluck Jonathan’s call to score his midterm performance is baseless, stating that he did not make clear what his goals were at the beginning of his administration.

While speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, the professor said that there no performance metrics to use in measuring the how well the president has done in the past two years.

Mr Nweze implied that President Goodluck Jonathan did not plan before getting into power, an attribute he said is typical amongst African (and by extension) Nigerian leaders.

He said they are usually caught up in a struggle for power and forget to plan for it.

He also said in measuring the performance of the present administration; one has to consider both the fiscal and monetary aspects of the governance.

Corrupt Oil Industry

Mr Nweze also hinted at corrupt and unprofessional practices in the crude oil industry in Nigeria, describing it as a ‘huge mess’.

“If you are familiar with what goes on in the industry, you will feel sorry for this country and how the main source of national revenue (is run)… there’s huge corruption in the system,” he said.

He said that if the current administration can regularize the abnormalities in the sector, it would be recorded as a major plus. “If they are able to clean that up, that’s a huge plus,” he added.

He implied that majority of the contractors who do business at the federal level of government buy bids from ‘friends’ who have ‘connections in Aso Rock.

Markets For Farmers

Speaking on the report as regarding the level of the nation’s over-dependency on crude oil, which has reduced from 100 percent to 70 percent, and is now focusing on Agriculture as well, Mr Nweze said that government is putting in some ‘good thinking’ in the sector.

He however said the government needs to create a ‘holistic national strategy’ if the sector is to move from sustenance production to commercial production; after which exportation can be achieved.

He disclosed that Nigeria has over 79 million acres of arable land; a figure which surpasses that available in Thailand, the major exporters of cassava in the world.

He added that Thailand controls over 70 percent of the cassava market.