Chike-Obi: Nigeria Needs Double-digit Growth to Exit Recession

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James Emejo in Abuja
The former Managing Director, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr.  Mustafa Chike-Obi saturday said the country needed to target a double-digit growth rate to get out of the current recession.

He said the current import dependence strategy was not sustainable for the country and called for import substitution.
Speaking on Arise Television, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, he said government must be able to support local production of goods and items presently imported from other countries.

The former AMCON boss also said government currently appeared to be seen as enemy of business rather than being the best friend of business. He said people are still terrified to do business in the country despite government promise to ease entry restrictions for
foreign investors.

According to him, many investors who want to come to the country for investment are discouraged by the difficulty in getting a visa. He opined that persons from the G-20 member countries  should be able to come to Nigeria without a visa as a first step to incentivising
investors.

Chike-Obi said government needed to encourage domestic production by lowering interest rate and providing infrastructure for businesses to thrive. He argued that raising interest rate to protect value of the local currency could only serve in the short term, adding that an
over-valued currency won’t promote growth.

He said the country must begin to produce things locally and by  itself. He also called for between 10 to 15-year coherent policies on foreign exchange. He said: “The only thing the Nigerian should be concerned about is growth – and I’m talking double digit growth 20 per cent, 15 per cent GDP in a year in the foreseeable future.” He said achieving a single digit growth rate was doable because China, Singapore and Malaysia achieved it when they faced daunting economic challenges. He said Nigerians must decide to produce virtually all they desired as well as patronise local goods to boost economic growth.

He said: “We cannot keep on importing those things; Nigeria is the largest country in the world that is import dependent and import dependency is not sustainable. So,  we must start making things. We all remember when the Japanese started making cars, they were terrible cars, they were the laughing stock but they kept at it. “We knew when South Koreans started making cars but now; South Korean cars are competitive. We must start making things; and even when we start making them they won’t be as good as the Mercedes Benzs and all that. If we make them long enough, the government is supporter of us making things, then in time, we’ll be as good as everybody else.”