Nigeria Independence Day – Prof. Uche Uwaleke has called on governments at all levels to make genuine efforts to move Nigeria away from single product economy by implementing fully the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) strategies.
Uwaleke, a Professor of Capital Market and Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University Keffi, made the call in an interview in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said that effective strategies on how best to move Nigeria away from a single product economy to other export base products had been identified in the ERGP of the Federal Government.
He said that governments must be committed to the full implementation of the strategies.
“In going forward, genuine effort should be made by the governments to break the jinx of a single product economy.
“Effective strategies to achieve this have already been laid out in the ERGP.
“There is no gain saying the fact that previous economic blueprints since independence from the development plans to Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP); Vision 2010, NEEDS, Vision 20:2020 failed due to poor implementation,’’ he said.
So, this time around with respect to the ERGP, government must walk the talk.’’
On the country’s 58 years independence, Uwalake said that Nigeria was yet to diversify its export base and was still relying on crude oil with its associated volatilities.
“The agricultural sector has not grown beyond the subsistence level due to negligence.
“The state of infrastructure is nothing to write home about, Nigeria cannot boast of a national carrier, except for the Abuja to Kaduna railway.
“The country lacks standard gauge rails, electricity supply in a country of nearly 200 million people with only 5000MW of electricity compared to South Africa’s 40,000MWwith population of 50 million,’’ he said.
According to him, the general poor state of infrastructure hampers industrialisation efforts and has made Nigeria too dependent on import.
Uwaleke said that this had resulted to putting so much pressure on the FOREX market and the depreciation of the naira over the years.
“The domestic currency which used to be at par with the U.S. dollar, especially in the late 70s now exchanges for as high as N360 to the dollar.
“The country’s shallow export base is largely to be blamed,’’ the don said.
He, however, noted that via a combination of monetary policy tools, the CBN had been fighting the inflation monster that had equally resulted to high interest rate.
He said that the high interest rate contributed to retarding the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.
The professor, however, said that it was inspiring to note that the economy had also witnessed some bright aspects since independence.
“The rebasing exercise carried out in 2014 showed other promising sectors of the economy that were not reckoned with previously such as Telecoms, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Nollywood or entertainment sector.
“The capital market has recorded significant milestones since the establishment of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, which was then known as the Lagos Stock Exchange in 1960.
“Trading infrastructure has been modernised and the bonds market has been developed.
“Beyond the traditional products of equities and bonds, many more have been introduced to give more choices to investors.
“Currently, there are five securities exchanges compared to just one up till the turn of the century. “
Uwalake said that market regulation had been greatly strengthened following the establishment of the Securities and Exchange Commission. (NAN)