JONAS EZIEKE and EUCLID MYKE, Abuja
NIGERIA has been described as an emerging industrial giant with about US$500 million dollar Gross Domestic Product GDP, with about US$2 billion foreign direct investment from the non-oil sector despite infrastructural deficit and recent security challenges which has greatly affected investment in the country.
The minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Okechukwu Enelamah said this while presenting his sectorial blue print yesterday before the members of the House of Representatives saying that his ministry will focus on non-oil sector and dismantle all obstacles on the clog of business in Nigeria to ensure job creation, asking for the lawmakers to put in place all laws to ensure the country attains its goals.
In his submission, Enelamah said that Nigeria witnessed stable economic growth at 5.5% ut it slowed to 4.3% due to the global fall in oil prizes coupled with the changing conditions in the world economies of United States and China which had its own ripple effect on the Nigerian economy and on all countries that are oil export dependent.
The minister argued that the Nigerian economy is already diversified as oil contribute only 14% of the GDP, and the Agricultural sector also contributed about 20% while US$2 billion FDI was attracted in the first quarter of the year from the non-oil sector. “Our challenge now is how to boost non-oil sector, boost the potentials in Agriculture, Information and Communication Technology ICT and Tourism”.
Enelamah said that the present security challenges in the country should not deter investors but should be seen as an opportunity for wise investors to cash in, recalling the adage which says that “crises is too great an opportunity to waste”.
He said, “Unless the country is secured, investors will be risk averse. Fight against corruption is a major tool that will attract investors. We are mono economy in terms of our export. The focus on free trade zone which must include provision of infrastructure is key.
“If we remove the obstacles in business, micro business will thrive. This government will do more of implementation than talk. For industrialization to take place infrastructure must be in place and power is key. We are collaborating with the ministry of power to ensure that infrastructures are improved upon.
“Stimulants and investor confidence can easily be done by matching talk with work. Forex must be available to manufacturers” he maintained.
Enalemah said that his ministry has a fourfold agenda that will drive the investment programme which will include: creating an enabling environment for industry, trade and investment to thrive in the country stressing that the single and most important enabler of environment is infrastructure. He added that infrastructure could be a hard one like transport, power, roads or a soft infrastructure like transparency, accountability, friendly policy framework to mention but a few.
He further revealed that the ministry also intends to resuscitate and Implement the Nigerian industrial policy, which will create industrial packs that will serve as a hub for the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises SME, saying that manufacturing contributes only 10% of GDP. He also said that major investment will be encouraged in the areas where Nigeria has comparative advantage like sugar, cassava and automotive as a means to creating jobs and also provide soft grounds for the right incentives to SMEs through SMEDAN, and Bank of Industry.
The minister maintains that the President’s trip to China attracted a Foreign Direct Investments FDI of over US$6 billion from the private sector business to business agreement. He maintained that SMEDAN has been revamped and will soon begin to get results soon.
He called for the lawmakers intervention on the review of Companies and Allied Mattera Act (CAMA) decree on business so as to align it with the world best practices. He also appealed for legislative review on the laws guiding the management and operations of the Nigerian Rialway Corporation as well as Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) to make them more effective.
Challenging the minister, Hon. Karim Sunday Steve, (PDP Kogi) said that FDI increased 45% while Capital importation which in the last quarter of 2015 was about US$1billion reduced to about US$700 million in 2016. He told that a lot of business obstacles must be dismantled by his ministry because a release from an International business data shows that Nigeria was rated 169 out of 189 countries with harsh business environment.
The lawmakers pointed to him that there are over 17 million SMEs in Nigeria and they can be used for job creation if properly funded and encouraged with improved power infrastructure.
Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila told the minister that a lot of drum beat has greeted the President’s trip to China but Nigerians are yet to get a break down of the investments and agreements attracted during the trip. He added that one factor with Chinese investment is that when you attract an investor, you also attract a retinue of human capital at the exclusion of local content. He further opined that the power Distribution Companies (DISCOS) are operating the biggest scam in the country, tasking Nigerians to pay for what they do not consume. “Why don’t we scrap it, review the entire process and give to institutional investors” he queried.
The speaker of the House of Representative, Hon. Yakubu Dogara told the minister that Nigerians cannot wait to harvest the dividends of democracy adding that unless SMEs are encouraged, industrialization may elude the country.