…Level playing field, policy consistency needed to attract investment

…FG assures on implementation of NDP 2025

By Babajide Komolafe, Economy Editor

The 2022 Vanguard Economic Discourse held in Lagos yesterday lived up to its billing with leading economy experts highlighting six critical measures necessary to make the nation’s National Development Plans deliver economic development and improve living standards for Nigerians.

These measures, they stressed, include good governance, policy consistency, level playing field, human resource development, predictable regulatory behaviour, infrastructure and policy for a digital economy.

They warned that without these measures, the recently unveiled National Development Plan 2025, will fail to deliver its objectives and targets like the nine previous national plans before it. 

The Federal Government however assured that it has put in place measures to ensure the implementation of the NDP 2025 in order to achieve its objectives and targets.

The experts include   Chairman   Foundation for Economic Research and Training (FERT), Prof Akpan Ekpo, who delivered the keynote address and chairman of the occasion Mr. Atedo Peterside, who is also the Founder/Pioneer CEO of Stanbic IBTC,   as Chairman. 

Other speakers are Clem Agba, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning; Professor Olayinka David-West, Associate Dean, Lagos Business School (LBS); Mr. Johnson Chukwu; MD/CEO, Cowry Assets Management Limited; Segun Ajayi-Kadir, DG, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN; Aliyu Wabba, President Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC; Dr. Tayo Aduloju,   Chief Operating Officer/ Co-Chair at Nigerian Economic Summit Group NESG and CEO, Porshare Group, Mr. Femi Awoyemi. 

Dignitaries in attendance at the Discourse include former Minister of Industry, Chief Mrs. Nike Akande, Director General Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Lamido Yuguda, represented by Hafsat Rufai, Director, SEC Lagos Office,    Head, Economic Intelligence Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget,   Mrs Olayinka Ojo is around;   Visiting Researcher, Lagos State Ministry Of Economic Planning And Budget, Dr. Adebayo Adedokun, 

MD/CEO of   Highcap Securities Limited, David Adonri; and CEO of   PFI Capital, Peter Edegbe.   

Others include Executive Secretary, Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Mr. Clement Isong, and CEO, Integrated Resources Ltd, Meter Manufacturer & Meter Asset Providers to Electricity Distribution Companies, Engr Durosola Omogbenigun.

Poor governance, leadership style bane of economy devt — Ekpo

By Peter Egwuatu

Professor Akpan Ekpo, Former Vice Chancellor, University of Uyo and Chairman Foundation for Economic Research and Training, FERT, has blamed the Nigeria’s weak economic development on lack of good governance and dysfunctional leadership style among others.

Presenting the keynote address at the 2022 Vanguard Economic Discourse with the theme: “National Plans and National Performance: Gaps, Learnings and Opportunities”, Ekpo also asserted, “Growth is useless without development.”

He, however, harped on the need for Nigeria to have proper linkages of national plan to budgets and expenditure in order to have meaningful development.

Ekpo emphasized that Nigeria has been too concerned with growth with little emphasis on development, saying: “A country can be experiencing high growth rates yet 80-85% of her citizens cannot provide or have access to the basic necessities of life. Hence, development goes beyond high growth rates to include structural changes, freedom as well as closing the inequality gap.”

He further canvassed for an inclusive growth, stressing that Nigeria exiting recession does not mean that the economy was doing well, adding that GDP is important but other indicators are very necessary.

He stated: “To ensure a proper linkage of the plan to budgets and expenditure frameworks, there is a need for appropriate legislative backing as was contemplated under Nigeria Vision 20: 2020. It will help to curb plan indiscipline and distortions during plan implementation.

“The performance of the Nigerian economy has been rated below average even as the country seems to be growing underdevelopment.

“We highlighted the exit from economic recessions due to the vulnerabilities of the oil sector and the covid-19 health pandemic – these shocks must have worsened the performance of the economy in recent years.”

Speaking on governance, Ekpo, stated: “Good governance indicators such as the rule of law, accountability, political stability, government effectiveness, quality of regulation and the control of corruption was analyzed, and Nigeria was compared with South Africa, Benin, Egypt, Ghana and Togo. Nigeria performed below these countries implying some degree of bad governance.”

To this extent he noted that good governance must be propelled by transformative and visionary leadership, adding: “It is good governance that would ensure that national development plans are effectively and efficiently implemented. Good governance and the satisfactory performance of an economy are organically linked. Learning from the failure of past development plans, the present National Development Plan, 2021-2025 must be subjected to properly monitoring and evaluation during execution.”

FG has put in place measures to achieve NDP 2025 objectives — Agba

By Godwin Oritse

Minister of State, Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Clem Agba, yesterday assured that measures have been put in place by the Federal Government, FG, to ensure that the National Development Plan, NDP, 2025 is fully implemented and the objectives achieved. 

Speaking at the 2022 Vanguard Economic Discourse, Agba also said that these measures were in recognition of the failures of past development plans to meet the expected objectives and targets. .   

Agba who was represented by Mr. David Adeosun, a  Director in the Ministry,   also said   that virtually every stakeholder in the Nigeria project   will be involved in implementing the plan.

He stated: “As a Ministry also, we have taken the diagnostic study of the Nigerian economy and  did a serious and critical review of previous development plans right from the development plan of 1952 to 1960, and in line with why the previous plans could not perform optimally, why they could not meet the various objectives and targets set.

“On the basis of that the government formulated a new National Development Plan 2020 – 2025, and we are working    to ensure that implementation is being given its pride of place.

“A national development plan implementation unit is being set up and will also involve every sector so that it will be participatory,   so Nigerians will be able to ask questions at   each stage of the implementation.

“As part of the implementation process, we have a web application called ‘IMAC’. The IMAC is a web application that gives any Nigerian, wherever you may be, even in the most remote part of the country, once you have access to internet, you can capture whatever project is being implemented, you can visit such project site, see what is going on   there,   register your views and send to us at the Ministry of Budget and Planning office where all the views will be harvested and analysed and intervene where need be.

“Let   me start by telling you that unlike previous development plans, the National Development Plans 2021 – 2025 plan has three volumes. The first volume is about Policy and Strategy, the second volume is about concept projects and programmes which is to ensure that the budget will ensure that the annual budget is properly aligned with the plan, which also ensures that every   MDA both Federal,   State and Local has projects on ground that have been captured.

“A Special identification Code has been designed for all 19, 600 projects that have been captured in the plan to ensure that there will be proper monitoring . The Ministry of Budget and National Planning has put a national framework in place that will ensure that the project and programme are properly monitored, every milestone will be monitored to ensure that they are on track

“To address some of the issues that have been raised, this plan has seven clusters, trackers, which also address the digital economy, business environment and a chapter on competitiveness    to address the concern of the private sector.

“Under infrastructure, apart from all the infrastructure you are familiar with,   financial infrastructure has also been captured because it is seen as one of the infrastructure to drive the economy so as to be able to support the productive sector of the economy.”

Govt must create level playing field to attract investment — Peterside

By Gabriel Olawale 

Founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Atedo Peterside, yesterday called on the three tiers of   government to create a level playing field to engender the confidence that will attract investment necessary to fund national development plans. 

He made this call in   his opening remarks at the 2022 Vanguard Economic Discourse noting that the absence of   a level-playing field for all investors is one of the key factors responsible for poor performance of the economy in relation to the various National Development plans. 

Peterside, who was also the Chairman of the occasion noted that the government made it difficult for right thinking persons to invest in Nigeria as the nation’s economy is rigged in favour of a few people.

He stated: “When you look at the data, the investment to GDP ratio after military rule, was as high as 35 per cent which means that everybody was ready to invest and then growth followed.

“But something went wrong from 2015 and since then, it is either we are in recession or struggling at ground zero. One of the fundamental things we did wrong in the last few years was to deliberately decide that we will not offer investors a level-playing field.

“Imagine three people in the same sector in Nigeria, getting forex at different prices, while some who are close to the corridors of power get at N480 per dollar, the next man gets at about N500 per dollar and the third one with wrong parentage gets at N580 per dollar.

“Since 2015, several African countries around us have been growing rapidly. Some of them learnt from what Nigeria did right before 2015 and replicated it in their countries. 

“But since 2015, the investment to GDP ratio continues to go down which is about 15 per cent now. So the investment activities are now so small that the impact cannot be noticed. 

So, as a country, we have deliberately rigged the economy in favour of a few people and anybody that is not connected to the powers-that-be were forced out of the business.

Success of NDP 2025 hangs on incoming govt, four factors — Aduloju

By Rosemary Iwunze and Providence Ayanfeoluwa

The Chief Operating Officer/Co-Chair at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, Dr. Tayo Aduloju, has said that the National Development Plan 2025 (NDP 2025) must be adopted by the incoming government otherwise there is no future for the plan.

Making this assertion in his presentation at the 2022 Vanguard Economic Discourse, Aduloju harped on the need to have a private sector led economy, predictable regulatory behaviour, competent and capable public institutions and inclusive growth, to achieve the objectives of the NDP 2025

He, however, expressed concern over the future of the NDP 2025 noting that   none of the presidential aspirants have so far spoken about the NDP 2025 in their campaigns.

He said, “We must have an implementation of the national plan that is impersonal. I have listened to all the political aspirants that are coming out for president; none has mentioned this national development plan. “So this plan that we are discussing doesn’t have a future because everybody that is saying they want to lead has not even mentioned it. We call it inclusive development. So this plan that guarantees inclusive development in the era of the 4th industrial revolution, we must,   as citizens, put it forward to the presidential aspirants and ask them, “Will you run this plan?   Can you run this plan? How would you do it?” that is where we start this conversation from.”

We need infrastructure, policies for a digital economy says David-West

By Sebastine Obasi

Professor Olayinka David-West, Associate Dean, Lagos Business School, has said that what Nigeria needs now are policies and infrastructure that will transform the economy into a digital economy.

While speaking at the 2022 Vanguard Economic Discourse David-West while harping on the need to develop Nigeria’s industrial sector, stressed the need for the country adapt to the realities of the fourth industrial revolution which is the emergence of a digital economy. 

He stated: “One of the things we have observed is that we don’t feature technology in terms of our operationalization. In terms of the   opportunities in technology we are still lagging behind, not looking ahead. “Whether we like it or not, technology is changing our economic models; It is transformational. We see it today. We have a shared economy. Covid-19 enhanced the digital economy.

“We need policies that work. I go back to 2012, when we had a Right of Way agreement. It is yet to be implemented.

“We need digital infrastructure across the 774 local government areas in Nigeria because with digital infrastructure, we can do a lot of things that we need to do.

“Today in Europe, you don’t need to leave your home to work and what they do is that they are attracting young people into different communities, just come and live and work here and you can have access to what is happening there.”

Quality educational system, labour force attracts investment – Chukwu

By Nkiruka Nnorom

The Managing Director/CEO of Cowry Asset Management, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, has identified the development of a quality educational system and improvement in the quality of the country’s labour force as the foundation for building a productive and thriving Nigerian economy.

Speaking at the just concluded 2022 Vanguard Economic Discourse in Lagos yesterday, Chukwu  said that developing a strong educational system and labour force would make the country investment-ready for prospective investors.

Citing China and India as examples, Chukwu said that both countries have built very strong and effective educational systems that have developed the right kind of skills that made it possible for industries to set up in China, while Indian was able to export skilled labour abroad.

He said: “We have a labour force that has to be developed. So, the first thing you have to do is that if you want to drive your own uniqueness as a country, you must define an overarching economic policy.

“For instance, if you want to be a productive economy like what China and India have done, the next thing you have to do is determine how to tap into the natural resources and labour force in place. To tap into the labour force, you have to micromanage the educational system.

“If you look at the demography of the country, more than 42.5 per cent of the population are below the age of 23. For you to tap that, you must go back to the educational system. We must make sure every young person has, at the minimum, in today’s world, a STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). They must be at the foundation of our educational curriculum. If you do that, we are going to have something to sell to the world and the world will come to us.”

He said there is a need for the government to step back from striving to build infrastructure and concentrate on regulation and supervision of the economy.

Private sector needs policy consistency – MAN

By Yinka Kolawole

In his submission, Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadir said that the private sector, among other things, needs policy consistency by the government in order to play its role as engine of growth and the implementation of the nation’s national economic plans.

Represented by Mr. Rasheed Adegbenro, Technical Adviser at MAN, Ajayi-Kadir said that the private sector, over the years,   has been constrained by either frequent change in policies or lack of clear direction of government policies.

He stated: “We have heard about the need to be a private sector driven economy for more than 60 years. 

“We have had quite a lot of industrial plans by the government but the goal posts kept shifting. Nobody is really able to put a tab on the direction of flow of government policy. Something is announced today, you get ready for it and before you can say Jack Robinson, the policy has changed.

“About five years ago, we launched, very loudly, the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) but it never saw the light of the day. The same malaise has plagued all such development plans up till today. We don’t really seem to have a clear picture

“Where we are really growing as a country. We change policies midway, before investors settle down the policy has changed.”

Human resource devt, workers remuneration must be given priority -Wabba

By Elizabeth Adegbesan

Human Resources development and appropriate remunerations for workers must be given priority for implementation of National Development Plans to deliver economic performance in Nigeria.

President Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, made this observation at the 2022 Vanguard Economic Discourse yesterday, noting that while Nigeria is good at formulating development plans, implementation is poor and this is because priority is not given to education and payment of living wages to the workers. 

Represented by Assistant General Secretary/Head Lagos Office, NLC, Chris Onyeka,  Wabba stated: “We need to   create wealth. Without human capital we are going nowhere. Without having a robust plan in developing your educational sector, you are going nowhere. Without human resources development,  we are going nowhere. “Nigerian workers both in the private and public sectors are almost working slaves. We are not paid well. We are the least paid in the sub region. I mean in West Africa. We are not talking about Africa.

“Talking about the minimum wage of N30,000 to a Nigerian worker that cannot even buy a bag of rice and you are talking about human capital development. 

“So until we address that issue of   the educational system that is going to the dust and then how you reward the workers that are rendering services, we won’t have meaningful economic performance.”   

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