By Victor Ahiuma-Young
OWERRI—ORGANISED labour, weekend, in Owerri, Imo State, urged the political and economic class to cultivate “a bipartisan and pan-Nigerian approach” to overcome the current economic crisis instead of passing blames and giving excuses.
Speaking on the recently released Quarterly National Accounts, QNA, of the National Bureau of Statistics,NBS, at a Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, interactive session with stakeholders in Owerri, General Secretary of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, Mr. Issa Aremu who doubles as Secretary General, Alumni Association of National Institute, AANI, Kuru Jos, observed that “All Nigerians regardless of their callings are dammed by the data on rising inflation, double digit interest rates, factory closures and general underdevelopment. Nigerians must collectively confront underdevelopment instead of giving excuses and blaming each other.”
On the critical views of the past two governors of the CBN namely Charles Chukwuma Soludo and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi on the policy thrust of Buhari administration comrade
Aremu: said: “The two voices sounded too familiar, predictable but unhelpful for an economy begging for solutions,” insisting that it was time to “work the recovery of Nigeria based on 1999 constitution’s provision that says the purpose of governance is welfare and security of the citizens.
“After 30 years of structural adjustment programme of privatization, trade liberalization and currency/financial liberalization, Nigeria urgently must replace the current disjointed policies with sustainable national development agenda consolidated in various national discourses articulated in visions 2010, 2020 and 2014 National conference.”
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to through the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, Kuru Jos consolidate all the past “patriotic national economic policies” failing which he said, imposed prescribed IMF/World bank prescriptions would further fuel “growth” without development.
Aremu who is also the Chairman, IndustriALL Global Union, African Region, argued that Nigeria had for so long failed to plan making the country “perpetually preparing to fail” insisting that it was time the National Planning Commission be replaced by functional federal ministry of planning to ensure implementation of all the policy recommendations.
Aremu faulted the current policy of CBN on high interest rate which he called “anti-production” and urged CBN to relook at its current monetary policy rate which puts interest rate at double digit adding that Nigeria could run a successful productive value adding economy with the current high cost of funds caused by high interest rates.
“The good job CBN is doing through its interventionist measures in some key sectors of the nation’s economy would be undermined if the interest rate is not properly managed. CBN must target capacity utilization and employment as much as it is “targeting inflation” in its monetary policy. The smartest way to reinflate the economy is through wage increase linked with productivity improvement and prompt payment of the existing salaries by states and local governments. President Buhari must urgently constitute the tripartite committee on the review of the current national minimum wage,” he said.
Nigeria workers he observed have long been in depression, observing that with Naira devaluation and inflation, 2010 negotiated national minimum wage of N18,000 which was about $120 in 2010 has fallen to $42 in 2016.
While calling for realignment of Nigeria monetary and fiscal policies to drive sustainable Development, he hailed the current spirited efforts of the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele to defend the Naira value through stringent capital control measures in the face of dwindling external reserves caused by the collapse of oil price.
He said CBN ban on 41 imported goods and services from the list of items valid for forex in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Markets was desirable for import substitution.
According to him, as part of the complementary efforts of the monetary authorities, President Buhari and the Vice President must quickly hit the ground running and convoke a stakeholders forum with all the manufacturers and producers of the 41 banned items with a view to removing the structuring problems facing them to produce these items at home.