Seeking Viable Alternatives


Lekan Fatodu
Obviously the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is not standing well economically. Hence, that there is need for a way out is common knowledge.

The Federal Government itself is not lost on the realities of these times, so if it means striking water from the rock in an aggressive effort to keep the economy afloat the government is up for it.

Clearly, the government’s much emphasised focus on diversification of the economy without an articulated framework in some ways could mean that whatever can possibly be done, even if not well tested, that can swiftly cushion the pains of the moment should just be driven on board.

Little wonder that so many ideas are bandied around, from within and outside of the government, as solutions to the country’s challenges, and yet none has offered an end to some of the nation’s basic predicaments. That’s the more reason why the government needs to be more circumspect and very conscious in its decisions and directives now.
In moments like this, fatal blunders are wont to committed especially when serious care is not taken and ideas are not well thought out.

For instance when the government said it had injected about N2.419trn into the economy, what came to mind instantly was: yet the economy is not showing any sign of recovery as critical sectors have not ceased to groan over lack of necessary interventions, enabling policies and infrastructure.

Perhaps, even with the said N2.419trn, the economic “doctors” injected the wrong part of the body (economy) or the injection was placed in the hands of quack doctors which has slowed down revival of the economy.

A vital point I’ve pushed with much vigour since the talk about diversification seemed to have dominated the agenda of this government is that the new economic focus shouldn’t be presented in a manner that will push other potential areas of growth to insignificance, promote another mono-economy and put the possibility of reforms and development of valuable products from the oil and gas industry in jeopardy.

The truth is: Nigeria has great prospects of making extraordinary gains from several economic pursuits like the IT/creative industry and not to talk of the promise agriculture holds for the country. And it can very much double its benefits from its challenged oil sector if the plans for such are placed in the hands of truly tested and proven functionaries, in collaboration with trusted experts in the private sector.

Thankfully, a top government official is on a similar line of thought. The Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, at a forum recently in Abuja underscored other aspects of the economy where the government can improve earnings and ensure sustainability in growth and development.

The plan to develop Jatropha plant as convincingly canvassed by the minister as a viable green alternative to fossil fuels while also providing an additional means of livelihood for local communities, is indeed part of the good alternatives geared towards reflating and diversifying the economy. This will essentially bring new life, boost activities and employment in a sector that is indeed troubled but still holds substantial promise for the nation in terms of rapid investment.

Also, the minister’s call for robust engagement with the private sector cannot be more auspicious within the current climate. Of course, the private sector still provides the lifeline for several economic activities to function across the country.

But their efforts, products and services should receive more approval and patronage from the public sector, which is part of the concerns raised by the Chairman, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) Board Committee, Dr. Adedoyin Salami, at the group’s annual summit four days ago.

NESG’s chair stated that for the Nigerian economy to be globally competitive, it is imperative for public procurement processes to dedicate specific portion to made-in-Nigeria goods and services.

And this, expectedly, as we’ve seen worked favourably in the oil sector, should favour franchisees of valuable offshore products and trademarks whose undertakings are helping to advance Nigeria’s vision for economic growth through the establishment and complete operation of international services in the country.

Of crucial note regarding the foregoing is the giant strides of Bafe group, a Nigerian private sector entity with cutting-edge product, Oilex, and expertise in oil spill management and remediation, a capability acquired through extensive training and collaboration with a German company that isa leader in that field.

This is certainly part of the solutions Nigeria requires to improve her terribly degraded environment in several parts of the country, particularly the Niger-Delta, in an effort to stimulating social-economic activities in such areas.
Basically, what Nigeria really needs at this time are feasible inputs just as the one suggested by the Environment Minister, the counsel offered by the NESG’s chair with required private sector investments and services as highlighted in moving the country forward. And the message on the diversification should be made more broad and comprehensible.