Participants at the event.
The MAN boss said that as a matter of priority, the new government must identify and break the powerbroker militating against the completion of the Ajaokuta steel complex to make available raw materials for the steel and automobile industries
By Valentine Amanze
At the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Ikeja office otherwise known as MAN House, Thursday May 25, 2023, members of the Organised Private Secto (OPS), government agencies and members of the Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN) gathered.
It was not a tea party; but a convergence of likeminds that proferred solution to Nigeria’s ailing economy and the inauguration of the Charles Okonji-led new executive of CICAN.
Okonji set the ball rolling, with his masterpiece presentation on the economy at a forum, where real sector operators lamented their plight in the eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari regime.
The CICAN chairman, who scored the Buhari administration low on economy, urged the incoming administration to examine the failures of its predisessor for a positive change.
He lamented the inflationary rate, which affected the cost of living in Nigeria, while calling on the government to reverse the trend by collaborating with CICAN and operators of the real sector before making policy statements.
He wondered how a bag of rice, which cost less than N15, 000 in 2015 could hit N40, 000 in 2023.
Okonji urged the incoming government to reverse with immediate effect the 2023 fiscal policy measure that raiseed taxes on beverages and tobacco.
He also called for an end to multiple taxation for the growth of the industries.
In her contribution, the ex-president of Lagos Chambers of Commece and Industry (LCCI), Mrs Toki Mabogunje, appealed to the government to invest in human development to turnaround the comatose economy.
She advised CICAN and other journalists to continue their advocacy role on the government for a speedy execution of people-oriented economic policies.
The President of MAN, Otunba Francis Meshioye, who was represented by Ambrose Oruche, the Head of Corporate Affairs, said that the manufacturers were ready to work with the incoming government to accelerate the economic development of Nigeria, particularly the manufacturing sector.
He called on the government to fulfil the electioneering promises to justify the confidence reposed by the electorate.
“This is the essence of the social contract; and in a
democratic society, the government is expected to be accountable to the people and deliver on the promises made,” Meshioye said.
He appealed to the government to stop forex scarcity, the bourgeoning borrowing interest rate, energy crisis, insecurity, and boost infrastructural deficit in the highly inflationary environment – Nigeria.
While calling for an end to multiple taxes on the manufacturing sector, he said that its continuation would not enhance government revenue; rather, “it will only erode the operational capability, effectiveness, and competitiveness of the industry, with huge negative spillover effects on government earnings, job creation, and the economy at large.”
The MAN boss also appealed to the government to boost the local textile industry, which he said had potential to produce high-quality military and paramilitary wear.
“It is unfortunate that these [High-quality military and paramilitary wear] are still being imported into the country,” he lamented.
He also urged the government to find solution to insufficient raw materials for the manufacturing sector, counterfeiting, smuggling, and importation of substandard products, inadequate and hard-to-get long-term funds, and the negative impact of the overlapping roles of some government agencies.
Besides, he advocated for the patronage
of Made-in-Nigeria products by all government parastatals, agencies, and ministries.
The MAN boss said that as a matter of priority, the new government must identify and break the powerbroker militating against the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel complex to provide the raw materials for the steel and automobile industries.
Besides, he urged the government to revisit and reactivate the dormant export incentives.
He however appealed to the media to play a role with accurate information dissemination to promote the growth of the manufacturing sector.
In his contribution, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agnculture (NACCIMA) President, Ide John C. Udeagbala, advised the government not to ignore the plight of the Smali and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.
According to him, some of the challenges affecting the SMEs include – multiple taxation, unstable power supply, poor infrastructure, unavailability of forex, high cost of diesel for production, and insecunity.
He also appealed to CICAN to work closely with NACCIMA, as the synergy would further promote business interests in Nigeria and the global economy at large.
Also, the former Ag. Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Dr. Chima C. Igwe, called on the government to diversify the economy for growth.
He said that diversification had made FIIRO to contribute more to the nation’s economy.
Igwe further disclosed that FIIRO, for instance, had concluded work and packaged a school feeding programme ready for implementation by the government.
“This school meal consists of a solid meal (biscuit) and liquid (drink) that satisfies the 1/3 energy and protein requirements of children of school age between ages 6-16,” he said.
He also urged CICAN to give the incoming Federal Government administration and all Nigerians a template for the transformation of the Commerce and Industry Sector that would serve as agents of economic growth and development of the nation.
Mrs. Angela Okisor represented the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), while Mr. Babatola Adeyemi, the CICAN ex-chairman, anchored the event.