Dr. Olusegun Aganga is no doubt a world class technocrat who has brought his expertise in helping the President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s transformation agenda as Trade and Investment minister. The former Minister of Finance who is a key member of the Federal Executive Council, (FEC), has been busy formulating policies that have started attracting Direct Foreign Investments, DFI, into the country. No gain saying that Dr. Aganga and the President are more than committed in revamping the ailing economy of Nigeria.

In marching words with actions, President Jonathan recently launched the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP, and National Enterprise Development Programme, NEDEP, thereby setting the stage for a new era of industrial, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises development in Nigeria.

Speaking during the launch in Abuja, Jonathan described the NIRP as the most ambitious and comprehensive road map that would transform the nation’s industrial landscape, boost skills development, enhance job creation and conserve foreign exchange.

He said, “The NIRP is the flagship industrialisation programme ever embarked upon by this country. It will fast-track industrialisation, accelerate inclusive economic growth, job creation, transform Nigeria’s business environment and stop the drain on our foreign reserves caused by importing what we can produce locally.

“The Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan is the most ambitious and comprehensive industrialisation programme because it is based on the areas where Nigeria has competitive and comparative advantage such as agriculture and agro-products, metals and solid minerals, oil and gas, construction and light manufacturing services. It has identified those sectors where Nigeria can be number one in Africa and top 10 globally.”

The President stressed that the NIRP would address all the major physical constraints towards industrialization, improve the nation’s investment climate and promote the patronage of made in Nigeria products.

Jonathan said, “The NIRP will also address the physical constraints that have consistently inhibited the growth of manufacturing by building industrial infrastructure, prioritise power for industrial use, reduce borrowing cost and mobilise funds for the real sector. It will help to build our industrial skills, improve our investment climate, raise our product standards, link innovation to industry and ensure local patronage of made in Nigeria goods.

“The goal of the NIRP is to increase the contribution of the manufacturing sector of Gross Domestic Product, GDP, from the present four per cent to more than 10 per cent over the next five years. This will boost the annual revenue earnings of the Nigerian manufacturers by up to N5 trillion per annum.”

The President explained that the National Enterprise Development Programme would help reposition the MSME sector as the major driver of job creation and inclusive economic growth, adding that the Federal Government would continue to promote the patronage of made-in-Nigeria products through the implementation of its local patronage policies and programmes.

He said, “The NEDEP is designed to develop and grow the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises because all over the world, the MSMEs are primary drivers of employment. With the successful implementation of the National Enterprise Development Programme, Nigeria will attain her dream of inclusive economic growth.

“A survey conducted by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria and the National Bureau of Statistics in 2010 showed that we have about 17 million MSMEs, employing over 32 million people. If each of these 17 million MSMEs employs additional one person, we will create additional 17 million

jobs thereby reducing employment in our country.”

The President added, “The NIRP and NEDEP will give additional impetus to our Transformation Agenda by ensuring value addition, enterprise development and industrialisation.

“On our own part, the Federal Government will continue to support local manufacturers by buying vehicles that are made in Nigeria. And as long those vehicles are produced in this country, the Federal Government will buy them. So we also encourage the state governments to support the patronage of made in Nigeria products in their states.”

In his welcome address, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said that the holistic and integrated nature of the NIPR and NEDEP had provided synergy and necessary linkages with other development plans of various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government and the private sector, adding that the ministry would partner all the stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of the programmes.

The NIRP and NEDEP are both holistic and integrated. This means that they are joined at the waist with other MDAs. The NIRP and NEDEP adopt inclusive structures which bring in other government agencies and the private sector to ensure adequate policy synergy.

Speaking during the launch, Dr. Aganga gave background information that Nigeria with a population of 166 million people is the largest country in Africa and accounts for 47 percent of West Africa’s population. It has a young population with median age of about 18 years, and is estimated to become the 3rd largest country by 2050. It is also the biggest oil exporter in Africa, with the largest natural gas reserves on the continent. Nigeria has about 44 solid minerals in commercial quantity, and is a leading global player in a number of commodities. With these large reserves of human and natural resources, Nigeria has every reason to build a prosperous economy, significantly reduce poverty, and create wealth. A robust manufacturing sector is also critical to attract foreign direct investments.

Countries with robust Industrial and Services Sectors can attract more FDI. Also, there is a strong positive correlation between countries with higher manufacturing percentage of their GDP, and the level of National wealth (as measured by GDP per capita). Nigeria must be strategic in attracting Investments, and needs to have a broad based Industrial and Services Sector to grow FDI, get wealthy, and create jobs.

Since the advent of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, the macroeconomy of Nigeria has been strengthened and consolidated. The NIRP is being prepared under unprecedented strength in most national macro indicators. Average GDP growth rates have exceeded 7 percent per year over the last 10 years; non-oil GDP growth averaged 8.5 percent over the last 2 years; Inflation has ranged between 8 percent and 9 percent; Debt to GDP ratio below 20 percent (one of the lowest in the world); a budget deficit of less than 2 percent; and a current account surplus ranging between 8 percent and 10 percent a year. Most factors of the macro environment are therefore currently well suited to drive industrial development.

Just like the sayings that a golden fish has no hiding place, it is equally expected that some political elements would not allow the man to concentrate on his job as many have continued to spread a campaign of his state of origin to be Lagos despite the fact that the man is hailed from Sabongida Ora in Edo State. Of all the distractions however, it was learnt that the man is unperturbed in his resolve to deliver a transformation dividends to Nigerians via trade and investment.

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