By Crusoe Osagie
The federal government has announced plans to invest massively in infrastructure and human capacity development, noting that the present administration is focusing on policies and reform efforts geared at promoting diversification and structural reform of the economy.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo explained that a successful execution of the policies is expected to result in enhanced productivity growth, increase in the share of manufacturing in Nigeria’s total export earnings and drastic reduction in susceptibilities of the economy to external shocks from commodity volatility currently being experienced by the nation.
Osinbajo during a public private dialogue on port efficiency and maritime sector roadmap organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), revealed that in the strategic implementation plan for 2016, the Federal Government of Nigeria has identified four policy fundamental to reflate and reposition the Nigerian economy for change, which includes, critical infrastructure, embracing the private sector, social inclusion and job creation, and improving security and tackling corruption.
“It is a pleasure to be here with you at this dialogue session jointly organised by the LCCI and Financial Derivatives Company (FDC). This dialogue and indeed, the research study are extremely timely. The decision to undertake a research study on the current state of Nigerian ports and the maritime sector reflects the repeated commitment of the organisers to tackling important issues that are imperative for our national economic development,” he said.
The Vice President who was represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, office of the Vice President, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, stated that to improve ease of doing business in Nigeria, particularly trading across borders are of high priority in the Buhari-led administration reform efforts, maintaining that government is focusing on critical infrastructure, both hard and soft, particularly trade facilitation, quality infrastructure and ease of doing business reforms.
He however stated that to achieve the nation’s diversification objectives, it is imperative that Nigeria must improve the administration of its ports, which serve as the point of entry of much needed raw materials and machineries for any industrialisation efforts, as well as point of exits for the exportation of manufactured goods and agricultural produce.
“I, therefore, commend the LCCI and FDC for this laudable initiative to convene stakeholders and key players in the ports and the maritime sector to analyse germane issues within the sector on a credible platform. Your collaboration bolsters my confidence in the quality of conversation and knowledge sharing expected from this morning’s deliberations, and heightens my expectations about the recommendations expected from this dialogue,” he added.
He pointed out that given the current strong economic headwinds facing the Nigerian economy resulting from decades of overdependence on oil as the primary foreign exchange earner, the need to diversify and restructure the Nigerian economy has never been more crucial, stressing that it is, indeed, a tough but necessary period for Nigeria to achieve the desired structural changes needed for economic growth, inclusive prosperity and sustainable development.
He noted that reform efforts at the ports is focused on deploying a deliberate, well-though-through automation strategy that achieves the tripartite objectives of blocking revenue leakages, improving process efficiency and reducing human intervention, adding that since the automation efforts started in 2012, revenue at the ports have grown by over 25 per cent where actual revenue has increased from N57 billion naira in 2005 to N184 billion in 2015.
He assured that the Nigerian government was already making serious strides in actualising the administration’s commitment to delivering on its promises, saying that the federal government is repositioning the economy for inclusive growth and sustainable development through key trade and investment policy and business climate reforms.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, represented by the Director General, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said about 90 per cent of the nation’s trade is done by sea, saying that the sector is very important to the life of the Nigerian economy.
He said Nigeria must at every point in time remain competitive, stating that if the nation’s ports are not optimised, the utility would go elsewhere, but stressed that in the past six months, there has been an appreciable increase in Nigeria’s non-oil exports thanks to the present administration’s drive to diversify the economy.