·Politics to determine 2018 business outlook
·Ease of Doing Business rating deceptive
By Kenneth Jukpor
As 2019 electioneering gears up and an ambiance of uncertainty clouds the nation’s economy, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has lamented that Nigeria’s President Mohammadu Buhari lacks the economic acumen to lead the country.
Speaking at the LCCI Economic and Business Outlook for members last week, the facilitator, Mr. Bimbo Olashere posited that the major problem in the polity was President Buhari’s inability to comprehend the monetary issues postulated by the organized private sectors and other concerned stakeholders in the country.
“One of the biggest problems in Nigeria is that we are talking to a President who is an economic illiterate. Under normal circumstances the President has no business at the helm of affairs of a nation whose problems are mainly economic”, Olashere said.
Olashere who is also the CEO of Lead Capital Advisory, argued that although Buhari has a cabinet to provide counsel on economic matters, the effectiveness of the team is marred by the factors leading to their appointment and the roles they perceive they should play in their respective positions.
He drew an analogy with the pitiable state of the Port Harcourt airport transit shed as a result of politics; “My barometer to ascertain that Nigeria has a government that is serious and has national interest as its core mandate is when I go to Port Harcourt airport. While Hon. Rotimi Amaechi was the Governor of Rivers State, we had an appalling transit shed at Port Harcourt airport and the argument was that the then President Goodluck Jonathan’s government was starving the State of fund and there was nothing Amaechi could do because it was a Federal Government project. I was in Port Harcourt last week, and that shed is worse; but the irony is that Amaechi is the Minister of Transportation and the story now is that nothing has been done because Rivers State is under a different party from the ruling party at federal level. This shows the myopic understanding of politics by Nigerian politicians. Shouldn’t Amaechi be keen on fixing that shed to ridicule the current governor? Note that international flights also patronize that airport”
Meanwhile, Olashere stressed that President Buhari’s persistent attempts to be President gave the impression that he had developed a blueprint to transform the nation’s economic fortunes, but he lamented that the President had no plan all along.
Although Olashere speculated that the nation’s economy in 2018 would continue to grow slowly, he also noted that Nigeria’s business outlook would be affected by politics and the uncertainty that comes with governance as the 2019 elections draw nearer.
On Nigeria’s improvement on the Ease of Doing Business rating by World Bank, he stressed that Nigeria’s economy was the 44th largest in the world, thus a position of 145 out of 189 was a far cry in comparison to the size of the nation’s economy.
According to him, the minimal progress the nation was making in terms of economic growth would quickly become retrogression as a result of the speed by which other nations are advancing.
He attributed the nation’s decline into economic recession and the eventual exit from recession to the fall in global prices of crude and the boom afterwards; however, he lamented that the Federal Government was yet to diversify its income as crude oil sales remain the top revenue source, noting that an impending fall in prices would crumble the nation’s economy again.
He posited that the United State’s development of shale oil coupled with the emergence of electric cars in Europe, the future looks bleak for Nigeria’s oil exports as its biggest crude oil customers are poised to do away with petrol and diesel-powered vehicles.
Similarly, the Managing Director of Cowry Assets Management, Mr. Johnson Chukwu told MMS Plus during an exclusive chat that Nigeria had lingered too long in its effort to diversify its revenue base.
“The issue of diversifying the nation’s income has been in the offing for the last ten years. The key thing is that we haven’t diversified and it behooves on the nation to recognize the fact that the future of oil is doubtful. Nigeria should begin to develop the infrastructure that would support the growth of the economy beyond oil”, Chukwu said.
While Chukwu agreed that as the 2019 elections draws nearer, the nation’s economy would take a back seat; he admonished business owners to take advantage of the nation’s current economic stability to grow their businesses.
He equally admonished small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to take advantage of the restrictions in importation of certain items by the Federal Government.
“The government has opened a window for SMEs; they should seize the opportunity to build capacity and grow beyond the infancy stage of their businesses.” He added.
On his part, the Director General of Multimix Academy, Dr. Obiora Madu noted that import and export businesses thrive during pre-election years as politicians are willing to relax policies which support such businesses even as they release the necessary funds that boost the economy.
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