FG Should Initiate Clear-cut Policies For Real Sector Growth – Kaigama | Independent Newspapers Limited
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FG Should Initiate Clear-cut Policies For Real Sector Growth – Kaigama

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Posted: Apr 4, 2016 at 12:49 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)


 Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), in this interview with Sylvester Enoghase, speaks on how the industrial sector will prosper if Government policies on conducive environment for the private sector are fully implemented.





What is your take on the recent IMF projection that Cuts Nigeria Growth Forecast Amid Oil Slump?


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its annual review of Nigeria’s economic situation has again cut its growth forecast for Nigeria as the oil exporter faces substantial challenges from low crude prices.

The IMF report said that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of Nigeria  would slow to 2.3 per cent in 2016 from an estimated 2.7 per cent in 2015.

We are not surprised that when in February this year, after IMF officials visited N Nigeria, after the Fund had forecast 3.2 per cent growth for Nigeria in 2016, the shift in the new position would take place so soon

The Fund said the key risk to the outlook is risky because the Government of Nigeria has not dance to its tune of Naira devaluation, and which the report said includes;  lower oil prices, shortfalls in non-oil revenues, a further deterioration in finances of state and local Governments, deepening disruptions in private sector activity due to constraints on access to foreign exchange, and resurgence in security concerns, and that Nigeria’s general government deficit would grow further after doubling to 3.7 percent of GDP in 2015.

We are worried that as the discussions between Nigeria and the World Bank are continuing on a possible loan, or credit facility that is tied to policy reforms in the West African oil exporter, the Government might be forced to take some of the Fund policy advices that may be detrimental to the economy in both short and long run.

The best option for Federal Government is not agree with the policy of the IMF, but look inward by using the Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to develop the economy


 What advice do you have for the government on the challenges of economic development?


We live in paradoxical times. We see enormous wealth, technological progress and unprecedented opportunity on the one hand, coupled with great infrastructural decay, inequality and fragmentation, extremist violence, and environmental degradation on the other that hinder industrial growth.

Despite progress in many areas, including reducing poverty and improving healthcare by the Government, individual and group interests still take precedence over national priorities too often.

Ultimately, our industrial sector will prosper if Government policies on conducive environment for the private sector are fully implemented. That change for conducive environment for manufacturers of course would involve a commitment to sustainable development, a restructuring of the financial system in line with people’s needs, and an urgent response to the challenge of human-induced change.

Government provision of enabling environment for the industrial sector is proving that the power of collaboration between government and the private sector is enormous. We are seeing markets beginning to transform from within, based on actions taken by business to respect and support human rights, provide decent work, account for environmental impacts and end bribery and corruption.

The challenge of national development is for the government to manage the economy in such a way as to promote job-led growth rather than the present situation of jobless growth.

The government should decentralise the economy for genuine development to take place rather than concentrating on the crude petroleum sector, which continues to be an enclave.

I strongly believe that in order to promote development and growth, there is need for government to go into partnerships with the private sector on selective basis until such a time that the domestic private sector becomes fully developed.


 How do you think that the Federal Government can address the growth of the non-oil sector to take the position of shock absorber in the nation’s economy growth?

I believe that when there is a will, there is a way. I am aware that for the past four years now, there are countries that are looking for traditional stories of economic activities. I know of cocoa, we have not heard of that for some times because while, when the price of oil is running to almost $1million per barrel, then there is no need for cocoa, because we have money to spend.

Look at when we started producing cassava, Nigeria overnight became the largest producer of cassava, but because it was an integrated production system, there was no market. The area of people centered activities is the traditional sources of revenues which I think, the government should pay attention, but in addition to encouraging production, the government should also paripasu the issue of semi processing. We cannot go back to the era of exporting raw products, because it would crumble down the line, and I do not see what is difficult about it.

The scheme for Partnership for African Development (PAD) and the NEEDS are sorts of value addition as one of the cross-cutting issues in the nation’s economic development efforts which the government has neglected. Nigeria has a very large market where there are unemployed doctors and engineers. It is a contradiction because we do not use our own local resources including human beings which are the most potent local content that would drive all other processes. Taking a look at the on-going reforms that is aggravating the value of import dependency. Look at the banking sector that is now going to consumer credit. This is aggravating the problems of our internal sector. And so if anything happens to the oil source of revenue, then Nigeria will have to prepare herself for problems in the future and so the issue of going back to the traditional sources of revenue is a task that must be done because what the structural adjustment programme did for us was to remove the people from their normal means of livelihood without producing a replacement. Nigeria cannot be oil merchants to be able to have a strong economic base


 Has the labour movement in the country, in any way, confronted President Muhammadu Buhari on these demands?

Yes. We have drawn the attention of President Buhari to the parlous state of the nation. We are concerned that despite all the effort your government has made at strategic government levels to comprehensively address the ever burgeoning employment crisis that has become our lot in recent years, the problem has persisted.

This is because our rate of unemployment is one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa and this is a grouping where you have countries like Somalia, Chad, and Niger, yet, we have never been so blessed in terms of revenue from oil wealth at this rate in history. This, we believe is a paradox and must be quickly addressed.

We speak of job driven economic growth. Nigerian workers and its people want to feel the impact of all the growth reeled out periodically by relevant governmental agencies. Nigerians want to see it translated into more qualitative and quantitative food on the table; better education; better social and physical infrastructure; they want to work in decent environment and they want their efforts towards nation building to be adequately recognised and rewarded.

Nigeria is today, for instance, one of ILO’s model country for the decent work country programme and advanced work has been done concerning its actualisation. The findings have been that of huge deficits in decent work targets.

We therefore call for concerted action from Mr. President to address the various identified gaps with a view of making the Nigerian worker the key element in all our employment policies.


It is unfortunate that most of our affiliates in recent times have spent most of their time negotiating redundancies.

The simple reason is that companies are largely downsizing while others are closing shop because our industries are dying. The problem of the high cost of power as an input in the production process has variously been highlighted

We have canvassed that we cannot at this time open up our borders to all manners of imports because trade liberalisation was one of the basic problems of the Nigerian economy that messed up our domestic capabilities in the recent past. Must we go back to it?



From your own perspective, what do you think are the necessary conditions to overcome leadership shortfalls in Africa?


I think that one of the lessons to be learnt is that since national ownership of development strategies is the key to success, leaders of countries in Africa should pursue pragmatic policies that would enhance domestic capacities.

Also, it is my personal opinion that there is an urgent need for international communities to strongly support national development strategies and domestic capacity-building efforts to re-direct Africa developmental agenda

It is my view that since economic growth is a necessary condition but not sufficient condition for progress to take place in any economy, African leaders must ensure that economic growth process must be inclusive and equitable to maximize poverty reduction and progress on other MDGs.

Also, since hard-earned gains can be reversed by economic and other shocks, leaders of countries in Africa need forward looking macroeconomic policies to support broad-based stable growth.

There are needs also for adequate, consistent and predictable financial supports, as well as coherent and predictable policy environment, both at national and international levels which African leaders must put into considerations in their decision making.

I believe that lack of adequate and predictable international financing has been an important constraint in the developmental agenda in the continent and so, there is an urgent need by African leaders to broaden and strengthen partnerships to ensure supportive international frameworks for debt relief, trade, taxation, technology and climate change mitigation and adaptation to sustain long-term human progress.


What then do you suggest that government should put in place to save the nation’s economy from collapse?

What the government should do is to immediately pass the petroleum industry Bill (PIB) into law because Nigeria has lost hundreds of billions of US Dollars in oil and gas investment due to the non-passage of the PIB.

The truth is that investors have continued to adopt a wait and see attitude, refraining from making any new investment pending the passage of the bill. Since 2009 when the Yar’Adua government first introduced the PIB, no new Final Investment Decision (FID) has been taken on any oil and gas project in Nigeria, not even on the government-promoted, Brass LNG project.

While we are dithering in Nigeria, there are new oil discoveries all over Africa, drawing in investors just as new technology is making hitherto unreachable and uneconomic hydrocarbon deposits accessible in Europe and North America thus attracting investors to those environments.

On a serious note, Nigeria therefore cannot afford the luxury of time while politicians indulge in unnecessary bickering over such an important bill on a sector that is the main stay of our economy, accounting for over 90 per cent of our foreign exchange earnings, about 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and 80 per cent of government revenue.


 What are your views on the unemployment situation in the country?

The unemployment rate in the country has now increased to 7.5 percent in the first quarter of 2015 from 6.40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 according to data received from the National Bureau of Statistics. No fewer than 64 million able bodied youth are reportedly roaming the streets without any means of livelihood.  Meanwhile, each year, our universities and other tertiary institutions keep turning out thousands of fresh graduates into the already saturated labour market.

The high rate of crimes, robbery, prostitution, kidnapping and ritual killings which are now prevalent in the country are traceable majorly to joblessness and poverty.  It is therefore necessary for Mr. President to accord the issue of employment creation the utmost attention it deserves. It is heart-warming that job creation is one of the campaign promises of the President.  Work on this line must therefore commence in earnest.  We believe that once the Federal Government is able to do the needful in this area, things will turn out for the better.  Towards achieving the set out goals in the employment creation agenda, we advise the revitalization of the agricultural sector of the economy.  We equally advise Government to embark on massive road and housing construction, encourage production of goods that can easily be produced locally and fashioning out of realistic monetary and fiscal policies that will stimulate growth in the real sector of the economy.


 How would you assess the state of the nation’s economy?

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy.  In spite of this development, however, up to 70 per cent of the population still lives below one dollar (N320.00) per day.  The situation on ground has been made worse by the recent dramatic drop in oil prices.  It is also pertinent to state that the country’s weak economy has affected the value of the currency negatively and this had led to untold hardship on Nigerians because we are a country that is import dependent.

As a way out of the precarious situation we have found ourselves, I will like to advise that Government should come up with clear cut policy initiatives and programmes that will promote real sector growth that will in turn generate employment opportunities.