ECONOMY: Three Men On Whose Shoulders Rescue Lie
NIGERIA is a nation bubbling with energy, and indeed, in a hurry to get somewhere very quickly. For too long, the citizens have had their future painted in a canvass called ‘potential’ from the West to the East and in between.
Year after year, such glorious future is unfulfilled, and hope lies crest fallen in the streets, but in no way is the expectation of the people reduced.
The bull, in the stock market, usually has a connotation that investors are having a profitable ride in the value of their stocks. However, in Nigeria, the economy is like a China shop from which the bull has finished its rampaging mission unchecked. From the stories and revelations of mind-boggling sums looted from the treasury, what is left is almost like a post war reconstruction of the basic infrastructure of roads, bridges, water and reliable energy sources.
With a youth population of about 24 million, large enough to match that of countries such as, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria’s leadership does not have the leisure of going in circle, running trial and error policies. It is only very clear and result-oriented policies intended to harness the energy of the youths, and planned to yield fruit in both short and long terms that would do the magic.
While the government figures how to get out of that, it must also find ways of putting jobs and income opportunities in the hands of its people. This it could do by diversifying the economic base away from the usual mono-product petroleum resource. This becomes very instructive as the President Buhari administration wants to take the Solid Mineral exploitation serious.
The weight of turning the wheel of Nigeria’s economic progress again, after a lull in governance that was punctuated by five months of searching for President Buhari’s Angels to saddle the position of leadership at the ministries appear to rest on the three musketeers — Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah and Mr. Babatunde Fashola. They are in charge of Ministries of Solid Minerals; Power, Works and Housing; and Industry, Trade and Investment respectively.
FAYEMI has the penchant, by his training and diverse experiences, for being politically correct, when he speaks. Truly, it is not unexpected of a man, who has been a lecturer, journalist, researcher and strategy development adviser in and outside the country.
An expert in Peace and Conflict Studies and egghead in Security Studies, traversing continents in pursuit of humanitarian service, Fayemi will need a heavy dose of consultation and search for the right professionals to make an impact at the Solid Minerals ministry.
This is against the backdrop of nations like South Africa and Sierra Leone, where exploitation of solid minerals is at the centre of economic wellbeing of those nations.
So far, Nigeria has not joined the league of nations that depend on solid mineral resources for substantial forex revenue, perhaps the coming of the former Ekiti State Governor will culminate in the proclamation of ‘Eureka.’ It goes without saying that the sector is expected to create jobs for the unemployed and create opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors.
Solid minerals only contributed less than 0.5 per cent to the GDP, a non-starter compared to about 10 per cent from Telecomms in 2014. To awaken the sleeping giant in the solid mineral business takes more than politics of opposition, but engagement of the right technical and management expertise docile bureaucracy of the Nigerian Civil service.
HIS resume reads like this: Chief Executive Officer, Partner, and Co-founder, African Capital Alliance (an investment advisory company), Enelamah has plied his trade in several financial capitals of the world like New York, London and Johannesburg, acquiring plenty of experience to go into private sector-led investments in Nigeria and West Africa. A man of academic excellence from across educational institutions like University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Harvard Business School, Massachusetts, USA, and financial organisations as Arthur Andersen and Goldman Sachs, Zephyr Management L.P and South Africa Capital Growth Fund, he has a bunch in his kitty to flaunt.
However, Nigeria has its peculiarities and known to have sometimes defied solutions that worked in other climes. Therefore, it is time to think out of the box, if the huge expectations of teeming jobless and fund-starved entrepreneurs are to be touched.
The manufacturing sector is facing serious challenges, of low power and unfriendly environment.
UNDOUBTEDLY, Babatunde Fashola, two-term Governor of Lagos State has the ‘triple barrel’ responsibility of delivering on the promises the ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC) made to the people of which power is key.
The uphill challenge faced by those before him in the power sector has not really been surmounted, power supply is far from being significant and output does not justify the huge funding that has been made over the years. It should quickly be observed that the Nigerian people are waiting for dividend of voting APC to position of authority. Just in a few more months, it will be a year since the ruling party took over and the scorecard will be displayed before the electorate.
People-centred policies must be the hallmark of the power business because as it stands presently, consumers are at loggerhead with DISCOs, GENCOs and Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). Electricity tariffs and the opaque nature of estimated bills given consumers have further impoverished a largely unemployed populace in a manner that leaves much to be desired.
Attracting capital to key infrastructural facilities in a nation of 170m people is a major challenge.
Expanding the capacity of generation is a major challenge that has to be confronted. Reworking the transmission is another. But of utmost necessity is the need to decentralise the power infrastructure so that various sub units can feed local communities. Legal works have to be done to make that possible. Fashola, being a lawyer, should work his way through that.