Nigeria Needs Strong Economy to Sustain Democracy, Says LCCI

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By Dike Onwuamaeze

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has called on governments in the country to build a strong and virile economy as a critical arm of sustainable democratic government in the country and warned that worsening poverty posed a great risk to Nigeria’s democratic process and security.

The chamber said that a “strong economy driven by the private sector is fundamental to the building of strong democratic structures and processes. This is therefore the time to reflect on the critical gaps in our democratic structures and our economic architecture.”

The call was contained in a statement signed by the Director General of the LCCI, Dr. Muda Yusuf, which assessed the impact of two decades of uninterrupted democratic governance on the economy and standard of living of Nigerians.

The statement acknowledged that the 21 years of democracy has earned the country enormous goodwill that has benefitted the country’s economy, adding however, that core democratic values like separation of powers and rule of law are yet to take firm root in Nigeria.

“We recognise that Nigerian democracy is still work-in- progress, but it is crucial to recognise the importance of these democratic ideals in the sustenance of our democracy

“The political leadership at all levels should rededicate themselves to the creation of enabling environment for private sector development with emphasis on streamlining the democratic structures for cost effectiveness and better economics,” Yusuf said.

The chamber also reviewed the country’s economic performance between 2015 and 2019 and concluded that the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals largely remained weak during the period under review.

“More importantly, we note the decline in foreign direct investments (FDIs) flows into the country driven by weak investors’ confidence,” Yusuf said, adding that the increase in maximum lending rate underscored the fact that cost of credit remained a challenge for businesses “in spite of the aggressive push by monetary authorities for robust credit flows into the real economy.”

The chamber noted that Nigeria’s ranking on Corruption Perception Index (CPI) dropped from 136 to 146, and also observed that Nigeria declined a spot lower in the Human Development Index (HDI) to 158 position in 2018 from 157 position in 2015.

“The present administration’s performance, from a socioeconomic and welfare perspective, was not up to scratch. The data on trends in per capita income, poverty, unemployment and food inflation supports this position.

“The performance from poverty reduction perspective gives cause for concern. In 2018, Nigeria overtook India as the country with the world’s most extreme poor people despite India having a population seven times larger than Nigeria’s population,” Yusuf said.

The chamber said that Nigerian economy has tremendous potentials in terms of human and material resources but required sustained engagement between the government and stakeholders as well as the adoption of evidence-based policy formulation process to bring considerable value to the economy.