A Certified International Trade Professional and President, Koinonia Global Services with headquarters in Canada, Mr. Olufemi Boyede has lamented government continuous neglect of the non-oil sector pointing out that Nigeria’s economy will continue to slide if the trend continues.
Boyede made this observation in his appraisal of the nation’s economy in the face of dwindling oil returns. He noted that the starting point for the revival of the nation’s economy is for government to first appreciate that the only alternative to the depleting foreign exchange is for it to prop up the non-oil sector of the economy.
Giving the example of the US, he said, “Obama in 2010 introduced the Obama Export Initiative in the US. This later became the National Export Initiative and was recently extended to 2020 as the National Export Initiative Next. This was based on Obama’s understanding and acknowledgement of the fact that in order to survive the economic recession, America needed to double her exports to the world over the five years 2010-2014 and through exports, create five million jobs. There is a need for Nigeria to visit that export document and replicate what the US did if we really want to move forward.”
While noting that solving the problem of Nigeria is not about sweet talks he said the 1993 report of the World Bank on the Asian Tigers indicated that government of those countries deliberately introduced policies that favoured local industrial revolution
He said, “The situation at hand requires immediate action, impactful action and result-oriented action. I expect that the minister for solid minerals, Kayode Fayemi to create a platform whereby the impact in that sector could be measured. We would like to see the amount of forex inflow from that sector in, say, twelve months. The Minister must go out aggressively to secure willing investors who will brave all the current challenges to follow him back to Nigeria to start exploring and exporting our Gold.”
He counseled that the major Ministries with potential for generation of needed foreign exchange like Agriculture, Solid Minerals, Trade-non-oil goods; Tourism – Nollywood, Music, Fashion) must work together with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, NIPC, NEXIM and NEPC to develop a basket of incentives that will be too mouth-watering to be resisted by foreign investors.
“I think the Government must be ready to give sovereign assurance to such investors about the sanctity of the adhoc incentives, at least for a minimum agreed period (say five-ten years) so that they are insulated against the perennial policy somersaults that have now become the stock-in-trade of Nigerian Governments.”
He also reasoned that the lingering impasse on the Export Promotion Grant must be brought to an end if the non-oil export is to thrive. “The NEPC and Nigerian Customs Service must convince the Minister of Finance to immediately solve the lingering impasse on the Export Expansion Grant and enter into a non-disruption agreement with the non-oil export sector so that exporters can now aggressively pursue their exports and generate the forex we require.”
Boyede who consults for the International Trade Centre and was technical adviser to the former Minister for Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, also called on the Central bank of Nigeria to rethink its control policy that has suddenly turned the Naira into a non-convertible currency as evident in the total ban on foreign spending by holders of Nigerian Naira-denominated ATM cards.
He also called on government to look at the agencies controlling our exports with a view to streamlining them while also taking a second look at the Export Expansion Grant.
“The EEG, at best, helps the Nigerian exporter to cover SOME of these costs, thereby giving him a competitive standing when negotiating his prices. As you all know, this scheme has been suspended since the past two years. . This scheme has been suspended for the past two years. Government ought to realize that without incentives to exporters they will not be encouraged to export goods from Nigeria than can earn us foreign exchange.”