Soludo urges declaration of national emergency on industrialisation

Photo: thenigeriabusiness

Photo: thenigeriabusiness

A former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Charles Soludo has called for a declaration of emergency on industrialisation in the country, as a strategic measure for economic diversification and job creation, on a sustainable basis.

Besides, Soludo urged the present administration to establish a new regime of competitive federalism; build and empower the nation’s institutional framework; create an efficient and competitive market economy with a human soul; fix the broken public finance and evolve a developmental exchange rate strategy.

The former CBN boss, in a paper delivered at the third anniversary of RealNews magazine in Lagos yesterday, warned the Federal Government against its current avowed focus on agriculture and solid minerals for economic diversification and job creation, as the emphasis on the two sectors “is misplaced.”

Rather, “the new ‘Buharinomics’ must articulate the five big ideas/programmes to drive the vehicle of change. Where are the iroko trees of the change mantra? Let me suggest that one of them should be a national emergency action on industrialisation.”

He argued that “agriculture and solid minerals are all primary commodities, subject to extreme volatility. If job creation is the central objective, both sectors won’t deliver much over the medium term.”

Soludo, who spoke on “Can a New Buharinomics Save Nigeria,” stressed that inasmuch as the country needs to maximise the potentials of every sector in job creation, “including the hitherto dormant solid minerals sector and then accelerate the transformation of agriculture, the overarching emphasis of the APC manifesto on solid minerals and agriculture as its own ‘new economy’ is misplaced.

An Igbo proverb says that a person who sells a dog and buys a cat still has a squatting animal in his house. Indeed, as we modernise agriculture and its productivity rises, total employment in the sector declines. Manufacturing and services remain the key for the future.”

According to him, “Nigeria’s urbanisation rate at 5.2 per cent per annum is one of the highest in the world, and with a rapidly growing population and millions entering the labour market every year, creating value-adding jobs for these clustering urbanites will be a fundamental challenge.

“China is now running out of its rural cheap labour and manufacturing wages are beginning to rise. To continue to compete, Chinese firms will have to relocate to cheaper cost locations just like Japanese firms relocated to many East Asian countries in a phenomenon called the ‘flying geese model’.

Nigeria must position itself to be the preferred location for these flying geese. We need bold targets, a plan, and actions.

“Indeed, emphasis on solid minerals and agriculture could become integral part of the industrialisation strategy—- as we should aim to export only processed minerals and agricultural produce.

“For example, can APC (All Progressives Congress) set a 20 year audacious agenda (2035) for Nigeria to achieve manufacturing as share of GDP in the region of 30 per cent, and for manufactured exports to account for at least 20-25 per cent of exports?

“It is a doable target, requiring activist governments at all levels as promoters. To work, Nigeria would have to unleash state and regional competition. Attempt to drive it from Abuja will fail as usual. The starting point is to constitute urgently a team of out-of-the box thinkers to come up with a seemingly ‘crazy plan’.

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