By Lawrence Olaoye
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has said economic recession was taking its toll on Nigerians, because they are being myopic in their assessment of the situation on ground.
He blamed the Niger Delta militants for the nation’s current economic mess alleging that they were criticising the government instead of analysing the situation.
He said for a country whose budgetary expenditure was predicated on a daily crude oil production of 2.2million barrels to be producing at less than 1.1million barrels owing to vandalisation of oil facilities,leaves much to be desired.
Osinbajo said this yesterday,at the Quarterly Business Forum between private sector investors and the presidency which held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.
“Perhaps its important for us to understand the nature of this recession in which we have found ourselves. In discussing this issue of recession there is tendency for people to generalize, a lot depends on what sort of recession and how we got here.
“If we did not have vandalisation in the Niger Delta as we are currently suffering,we will not have this recession today, moreover, in looking at the solutions, we should try to focus on the type of problem we have and what instigated it,then we can begin to come up with better solutions,”Osinbajo said.
Meanwhile,stakeholders who attended the business forum have listed access to finance,high interest rate and high energy cost as top challenges which they face in doing business in Nigeria.
They said these challenges were responsible for businesses that looked promising and vibrant at the onset,crumbling within the first five years of establishment.
Beside these problems,they outlined access to foreign exchange,transport and infrastructure deficit,weak export support,inconsistent government policies and ease of doing business challenges,including approval delays as some bottlenecks.
Others challenges which they called on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to address were low support for domestic manufacturing, delays from Custom officials and security issues.
The VP in pledging government’s readiness to address power sector challenges,said it would require a ‘revolution’ to shore up power to adequate level nationwide.
“We are doing a whole lot by interfacing with the private sector because we realise their role in the economy,If the Dangote refinery comes on stream,it will help us overcome some of those challenges, like the Sub-sea gas pipelines,it will take care of vandalisation.
“But I think the more important thing is how to clean up the mess in the power sector, especially infrastructure, in the short term, we will try to bring up power to an appreciable level to help the manufacturing sector,”he said.
Micheal Cole,President Lagos Chamber of Commerce advised government to show consistency in its policies,if it hopes to reflate the economy and place it on the part of sustainable growth.
He lauded the presidency for initiating the quarterly forum,saying government could measure its progress by getting regular feedbacks from the citizens.
In an interview,Frank Udemba, President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria(MAN) said it was encouraging that government now realises the importance of the private sector as the engine room for growth.
“Its a wonderful development, the fact that government now engages the organised private sector and recognising the fact that the private sector is possibly the engine of growth, the driver of the economy.
“So we are happy about that. And this has given us opportunity to air our views and concerning the policies they have and how to get this country out of the current recession. Its something that should be encouraged and we hope that it would continue, they will sustain this initiative.
“Already government has promised to sell off some assets to beef up the foreign reserve, that is key. We have a lot of challenges of doing business but basically they have to pump in a lot of money into infrastructure because that is a quick way to reflate the economy,”Udemba said.