Kano – Some experts have advised Nigerians to look inwards and develop areas of the country’s comparative advantage to reduce demand for foreign exchange.
They made the suggestion in separate interviews in a nationwide survey.
They offered the suggestions against the backdrop of sliding exchange rate of the naira in the parallel market.
While the naira exchange rate has remained stable against the dollar at the official market at N197.50 to the dollar, it has been depreciating significantly at the parallel market.
The naira exchange rate depreciated to as low at N390 to the dollars at the peak of the foreign exchange crisis about two weeks ago at the black market.
It is currently being traded at between N310 to N320 to the dollar at the black market.
Mr Aliyu Rinji, a lecturer at the Department of Banking and Finance, Kaduna Polytechnic, advised the Federal Government to embark on massive enlightenment campaigns on the importance of patronising made-in- Nigeria goods.
He said there was urgent need for the Federal Government to encourage Nigerians to partronise locally produced goods to reduce the demand for dollars and other foreign currencies.
The lecturer said that the measure was also necessary to encourage manufacturing companies to produce more goods for local consumption and export.
“If we stop patronising foreign goods, the demand for dollars will reduce, thereby giving our manufacturing companies the opportunity to provide jobs to the teeming numbers of unemployed persons in the country.
“But as long as we continue to depend on foreign goods, we will continue to demand for dollars to import foreign goods.
He also stressed the need for government officials to support the campaign for patronage of made-in-Nigerian goods in an effort to encourage our local industries to remain afloat.
“The campaign against the use of foreign goods such as shoes, textile materials, furniture and other goods should be supported by all government officials.
Mr Abiola Alli, a financial expert in Ibadan, also said that Nigerians should patronise made-in- Nigeria goods, while the government should ensure the economy was genuinely diversified.
Alli, a former Chairman, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Oyo State Chapter, said that 70 per cent of foreign exchange earnings were from oil and whatever affected oil would affect foreign exchange earnings.
He said that high percentage of goods used by Nigerians was imported from other countries, including raw materials used by local industries.
Alli said that local manufacturers and businesses bought foreign currencies to transact business and this invariably determined price of goods and services.
The financial expert said that current depreciation of the naira against international currencies had made Nigerians poorer.
He called on government to diversify the productive base of the economy to encourage other sectors to produce more for local consumption and export.
Alli advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to forestall any policy summersault that would increase the sufferings of Nigerians.
He also called on the state governments not to rely on the monthly federal allocations, but to look inwards and make genuine efforts at generating revenue.
“They should turn around our tourism sites and boost their activities to increase revenue.
“It is high time foreigners came here to watch, we have always gone to their land to watch with money too,” he said.
Mr Ajomiwe Ezuma, a Port Harcourt- based financial analyst, said government should intervene by implementing aggressive economic policies to shore up the value of the naira.
“ I think that diversification of our economy, using agriculture as the mainstay, will also assist to shore up the value of the naira.
“ Nigeria has the potential to feed West Africa with rice, yam, cassava and cocoa yam. We need to aggressively grow these crops, feed the nation and then export.
“ Government can also increase cocoa production and it will also serve as foreign exchange earner for the economy,” he said.
Ezuma said these were achievable objectives because the country was blessed with good weather and soil to turn the country back to full scale agriculture as the main stay of the economy.
He said that he believed that Nigeria could learn from the experience of Israel, South Africa, Brazil and China which used agriculture to boost their economies.
Mrs mary Musa, an economist in Kaduna, said that Nigeria should look inwards and focus on areas where the country had comparative advantage over others
“Since oil price fall is the major cause of the naira fall, I suggest we should embark on agriculture where Nigeria is endowed with so many cash crops like ground nut, soya beans, palm oil and rice, among others,’’ she said.
Mr Sunny Nwosu, a financial expert in Lagos, advised government to be more serious on the issue of economic diversification, stressing that the nation’s agriculture potential needed to be harnessed to boost revenue generation.
According to him, government should come up with good policies on agriculture and support farmers with loans at low interest rates to develop the sector.