President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said he would be reaching out to captains of industry from across the country in the coming months to assist him in implementing his administration’s agenda for the economy.
Buhari said this in a keynote address he delivered at the opening of the 44th Annual General Meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria in Abuja.
The President, who did not include members of the private sector in his Economic Management Team unlike what obtained in the past, enjoined members of MAN to avail him their wealth of experience in order to make his administration’s ongoing efforts to reposition the economy a success.
“As events unfold in the coming months, many of you will be called upon to play critical roles in the implementation of this administration’s agenda. I implore you to avail us your wealth of experience so that together, we can uplift our nation’s economy and social well-being.”
While reflecting on the theme of the AGM, ‘Diversifying the Nigerian economy: The role of government in manufacturing’, Buhari urged MAN members to consider national interest so that the outcome of the deliberations would be to the benefit of Nigerians workers and promoters alike.
He said he was looking forward to receiving a communiqué of the deliberations at the meeting.
The President said the nation owed the captains of industry a debt of gratitude for their show of commitment, demonstrated by their respective investments in the Nigerian economy despite daunting challenges.
He said the nation’s future depended on such commitment and collective desire to build a thriving economy.
Buhari added that his administration remained committed to partnering the manufacturers in the task of charting a brighter future for the nation.
He described the meeting as timely, coming at a time when the nation was faced with the urgent need to diversify the economy in the light of dwindling price of crude oil in the global market.
Buhari reiterated the fact that the fall in crude oil and other commodity prices has had a serious negative impact on world economies, especially in countries like Nigeria, which depended on one commodity for its export earnings.
He added, “This administration is convinced that the key to our quest for economic diversification and therefore survival lies in agriculture and the manufacturing sector. A strong manufacturing sector will create more jobs and wealth for our people. It will usher in sustainable economic prosperity, because we will produce what we consume as a nation and generate foreign exchange by exporting any surplus.
“The manufacturing sector is well positioned to be a major driver of Nigeria’s economic growth, because of our immense natural resources and the entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians. Government is, therefore, focused on implementing necessary policies and strategies aimed at unleashing the full potential of manufacturing in Nigeria.
“We will rely heavily on your ideas and inputs at all stages of formulation and implementation of new industrial policies. For our part, we will remove bottlenecks and create a more business friendly environment.”
Buhari said his administration’s plan to boost manufacturing activities in the country was supported by the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan and the National Enterprises Development Programme.
These programmes, he said, presented a clear road map for an industrialised economy.
He added that his government was working on improving the patronage of locally-made goods, bridging the gap between the skills required by industry and those provided by educational institutions, and access to finance for Small and Medium-scale Enterprises.
Meanwhile, the President of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has called on the Federal Government to ensure consistent implementation of industrial policies as a way of encouraging the manufacturing sector.
Dangote made the call in his address at the MAN AGM.
According to him, policy inconsistency destabilises industrial production plans and erodes investors’ confidence.
“For instance, the suspension of the Negotiable Duty Credit Certificate to exporters and non-payment of existing claims have discouraged non-oil exports and frustrated contracts entered into with overseas buyers,” he said.
Dangote also sought more support for small and medium-scale manufacturers.
He said since many Nigerian manufacturers were relatively small with limited capital to support their investments, the government had to develop industrial clusters with requisite infrastructure for this category of businesses.