By Naomi Uzor
In this interview conducted by Naomi Uzor, the immediate past President of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce Senator Dipo Odujinrin says even with 6000 mega watts of electricity the country would still be far from getting out of the woods. ExceptsWhat do you think is the way out of the current economic meltdown?
I think the meltdown is a blessing in disguise for Nigerian because it will make us look at other areas aside from oil. If you look at the results from the companies in the stock market, the results are good in spite of the meltdown and those are non oil sector companies, so it means we should be looking more in that direction. We donâ€™t have the same kind of problem as the western countries have. They have a collapsed economy, we donâ€™t have that.
It is just that oil that is our main foreign exchange earner is not as highly priced as it was before, but the other businesses are still doing well. I think that is the way to go, focus in agriculture, focus on what our companies are doing locally, and then encourage them to be able to produce better.
The new CBN governor recently said the seven point agenda should be brought down to three, so that we can get quality result within the very short period of time. What is your take on this?
The point he was making is the emphases. You can have your seven point agenda but target one or two areas and finish them. There is no point having long list without finishing them. Let us complete something. Donâ€™t just put on vision, vision, and vision. What of performance and results? If we have 6000 mega watts, as a country we should be talking of 60,000 mega watts. New York city fire service in New York uses 25,000 mega watts, that is an agency of department not even a government ministry.
A fire service alone, not a state, not a country, uses four times what we are trying to achieve, so really we are not there. Even with 6000 mega watts, we are just scratching the surface, but if we do 6000, maybe from there we can go on and do more. But a generator economy is not a serious economy.
Nigeria, has been tagged an importing nation, what is your opinion on this?
We are funding other peopleâ€™s production. We are creating jobs in other countries. Our graduates are not employed because we are not patronising locally made products. You find that where you patronise locally made products, it creates wealth, because you reduce unemployment. Once unemployment is reduced, there is more money in peopleâ€™s pockets. Itâ€™s human beings that generate the growth in the economy.
The last G8 meeting, our president, Yarâ€™Adua was not invited, but this time, he is being invited. What do you think will be the benefit of that meeting to Nigeria?
The benefit is that we can mix with the top countries in the world. Networking is important, at any level, either at business level or political level. The body language of the leaders will be seen by the other parties at such meetings, so it always a good thing to mix with your peers. In such situation, he might make good contacts that can help to grow the economy.
We have so many bilateral agreements. Are they really of benefit to Nigeria or how do we take advantage of them?
They can only be of benefit if the business sector is called in to implement all those agreements. You will find that when foreign presidents are visiting Nigeria, they come with their business people. When we go out, we go with civil servants, so, who are the people who will actualise the decisions at those meetings? The business people in the US are meeting the Nigerian business people when they come here but when we go there, we take civil servants to meet with business people, so nothing will get done. So if we want to be taken seriously, internationally, there must be good partnership with the government.