Ibegin with a quote from a famed 19th Century author and social reformer, Frederick Douglass. He said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
It should be noted that under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch, Nigeria’s foreign policy has regained its traditional vibrancy, vigour and commitment. Not only have we reclaimed our pride of place and leadership on the continent and beyond, we have also successfully secured foreign policy actions to the achievement of domestic priority drivers.
President Muhammadu Buhari has the arduous task of ensuring that in managing Nigeria’s affairs, he strikes the right balance between the domestic scene that is characterised by countless challenges and what some forecasters may call internal paradoxes, and an external environment that is competitive, dynamic, fluid and volatile at the same time.
With the Nigerian economy in recession, support for small and medium businesses could be one of the key ingredients to carrying the country through these tough times. Yet Nigerian businesses and entrepreneurs are creative and resilient – and could play an instrumental role in lifting the economy out of recession, given the right support and business environment. Nigerian entrepreneurs and business owners are the engines that drive the country’s economy. Supporting them should become a priority for the government.
It is important that government and other stakeholders listen to entrepreneurs’ concerns as we seek to grow and contribute to the economy. We, on the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, have embraced the responsibility of helping to amplify the voice of small and medium businesses, because we understand the challenges entrepreneurs of these businesses face in such times as we also are in the quagmire together.
With the recession hitting hard, small and medium businesses face the reality that consumers won’t have as much money to spend; while investors and business partners will reduce investment. Given that Nigeria has an estimated 37 million micro, small, and medium-size enterprises making a significant contribution to the Gross Domestic Product and employment, this sector should be treated as an economic priority.
It is our belief that the present economic climate precipitates on the government to come up with a realistic economic plan of diversification, reforms in the civil service, local and state levels, budgets streamlining by the National Assembly and the central government being judicious and transparent in its dealing with the states. I also implore the citizens, especially the youth, not to lose hope; but rather, be very flexible, focused and resolute.
Bearing this in mind, however, if the dramatis personae do not play their parts in this unfolding drama, no one can do so, not even God will come down and play the human parts or roles for us. These industries are very pivotal if Nigeria is to relate effectively with the world, and government needs to rapidly apply solid solutions to liberate the nation from its current recession through the following suggestive ideas:
– Recovery of Nigeria’s over $100 billion which the country has abroad and with bailed-out local banks; and do not borrow cut security vote both at the federal level and at state levels;
– Lower interest rates and promote small businesses because they are employers of 80 per cent of the labour force. As small businesses are being killed, there will continue to be mass unemployment, less purchasing power and economic recession.
– Promote and standardise “Made in Nigeria”. This must be more than just a slogan.
– Don’t think strength of the Naira – think strength of the people. When the people are strong, the Naira will get strong.
– Strengthen and decentralise the Police Force. The fastest and best solution to the continuous breakdown of law and order is a stronger and local police.
– Find a vision for Nigeria, so Nigerians are made cognisant of this vision for the future of the nation.
I end this discourse with yet another quote from one of the finest leaders the world has produced, President Barack Obama. He said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for; we are the change that we seek!” This quote becomes necessary when we consider the present economic situation coupled with the change mantra, which citizens hold on to, that brought the APC-led government to power.
Let’s change our thoughts and together, we can build a New Nigeria! Thank you and God bless Nigeria.