By Dike Onwuamaeze
The Chief Executive Officer of the New Horizon Systems Solution, Mr. Tim Akano, has advised the federal government to prioritise funding of the Dangote Refinery, as part of its strategy to reflate the economy.
Akano, gave the advice in a paper he presented during the ‘THISDAY Life Lessons Policy Dialogue titled “Which Way Forward for Nigeria after COVID-19 Lockdow?” held through an online platform.
Akano also stated that Nigeria needs the help of God, the support of the global community and sound judgment by its leaders to be able to come out of the disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He explained: “The federal government, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Lagos State should prioritise the Dangote Refinery as a critical national security asset backed up by Executive Order. The refinery should be accorded 101 per cent support to ensure it is commissioned by year end. Why? Dangote’s Refinery is to Nigeria what Huawei is to China, or Samsung is to South Korea or Toyota is to Japan.
“About 70 per cent of our foreign exchange is used in importation of petroleum products. If we can begin to save even 50 per cent of that from the first quarter of 2021, the naira will ‘smile again’ and swell in value while Nigeria foreign reserves will stand erect.”
He maintained that the way forward for Nigeria after COVID-19 pandemic would require sound economic package to stabilise most of the micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs), reflate the economy, minimise job loss and business bankruptcy.
“I strongly believe it is possible for Nigeria to emerge stronger from this experience, if common sense and good judgment prevail. The economic team should call for a national debate and be humble enough to listen to and review both wise and stupid suggestions. What have been unveiled so far by CBN are mere palliatives which are inadequate to stop the looming mass business failure,” maintained.
Akano also called for a 90-day amnesty for those who looted the national treasury from October 1, 1960 to April 30, 2020, to enable them to bring them out as fixed deposit in Nigerian banks within the stated grace period.
“I have a hunch Nigeria will raise more than $100 billion from this exercise. The owner gets one per cent interest on fixed deposit, the MSMEs borrow the money at five per cent interest rate. This is a win-win game between Nigeria and the ‘’owners’’ of the money.
“Right now it is lose-lose game as the owners cannot access the money for fear of EFCC and it is equally not useful for Nigeria’s economic development,” he said, adding that, “anyone who is caught looting the national treasure after April 2020 can face life imprisonment or capital punishment.”
He also recommended that Nigeria should raise $50 billion from Africa Diaspora Investment Fund (ADIF) at three per cent interest rate through the African Development Bank, reduce salaries, allowances and perks of all politicians by 50 per cent with effect from April 2020, and provide a one-off student bursary of N50, 000 each to every student in secondary and tertiary institutions across Nigeria to stabilise the education sector, which is one of the country’s biggest employers of labour.
Akano also called on Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to reduce its cost structure by 30 per cent to save about $5billion yearly for government to spend.
He called on the federal government to do a comprehensive audit of dormant accounts, including those belonging to dead Nigerians, in the country’s banking system as well as unclaimed billions of naira whose owners have refused to supply their BVN for fear of EFCC and use them as stimulus package for MSMEs.
Other measures enunciated by Akano to cure the country’s ailing economy included granting Nigerian businesses that are five years old and above a maximum of 20 per cent of their three-year average yearly turnover as loan at five per cent interest rate with one-year moratorium. He said this should be done within seven days after the lockdown has been lifted, using their businesses as collateral.
“When China became serious on transformation, Chinese businesses get cheap loans five per cent within 72 hours of submitting their loan applications,” he said