By Victor Ahiuma-Young
For employers in the Chemical and Non-metallic products sub-sector of the Nigeria’s economy, the 2010 financial year that ended June 1, 2011, provided a unique opportunity to indirectly set agenda for the new government that emerged after the April general elections and to warn of the danger posed by rising unemployment, poverty and deprivation to the stability of the country.
The employers, under the umbrella of the Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Employers’ Federation, CANMPEF, at 32nd Annual General Meeting, AGM, faulted government indices to justify perceived growth in the nation’s economy, and argued that the the so-called growth did not reflect on the lives of the Nigerian populace.
Delivering his valedictory address to federation, its outgoing President, Dr. Dele Makanjuola, noted that economic development was about improving the living conditions of people, about creating a conducive environment for doing business, about empowering people to participate and contribute constructively to the desired socio-economic objectives in a community or in a society.
According to him: “The level of poverty, unemployment and deprivation in Nigeria, and its grave implications for the security and unity of our country is worrisome and calls for very serious and urgent actions by the federal and state governments. There is a need to appreciate that the foundation of any meaningful poverty alleviation scheme is quality relevant education programme of all citizens.
Every effort should be made to educate our youths rightly and thereafter arm them with appropriate vocations. In as much as education is not necessarily a way of escape from poverty; it is a way of fighting poverty. It is simply a way of showing people the light and hopefully they will find the way.”
“The Nigerian Government and relevant agencies like the Central Bank of Nigeria are quick to point to growth indices in the economy which upon review basically deals with growth occasioned by rising oil prices and this to government is increase or growth.
Unfortunately, this kind of growth referred to by economists as ‘jobless growth’ or ‘growth without development’, does not trickle down to the majority of the people through significant job creation and generally improved economic climate.”
“We cannot continue to brandish statistics of growth on paper while the reality on ground is that many of our industries and factories are shutting down their plants while others are relocating to neighbouring African countries because of the harsh business environment in Nigeria. This trend is dangerous and requires urgent attention.The bottom-line of real economic growth and development is the positive impact it has on the general populace through the provision of jobs and improved standard of living.
For too long, Nigeria has paid lip service to reducing our near total dependence on crude oil and gas export. It is now imperative that government takes concrete steps to diversify the economy away from crude oil/gas to the pursuit of policies that will encourage the growth of agriculture, manufacturing, construction and other labour intensive productive activities of the economy of which our Federation is an active.”
“Lack of infrastructural facilities especially power is a major hindrance to the growth of businesses in the country. There is an urgent need for a holistic approach to the power sector problems as this has great effect on the performance and growth of our various industries. This holistic approach to solving the power sector problem in Nigeria should look at all legislation affecting or working against efficient and effective power generation and distribution.”
In his secretariat report, Executive Secretary of CANMPEF, Mr.E.F. Ali, observed that the country had a marginal recovery from the deep economic recession when compared with the previous year.
He said: “The real sector of the economy continued to be in bad shape as they could not contribute much to the growth and development of the economy. The problems of the manufacturing industries such as lack of enabling environment, multiple taxations, policy in-consistence, Limited accessibility and high cost of credit as well as inadequate and dwindling demand for products had effect on industries.”
“The negative impact of lack of power supply has resulted on each manufacturer being dependent on own generated power. In addition, the absence of provision of needed infrastructure, including water, access roads made matter worse and could not provide some succor to employers and bring about a favorable economic climate for business to thrive.”