Saturday, 21 November 2015

SOLUDO CONDEMNS FG’S TOTAL FOCUS ON AGRICULTURE AND SOLID MINERALS FOR ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION AND JOB CREATION

Professor Chukwuma Soludo
An erudite professor of economics and erstwhile Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Chukwuma Soludo, has condemned the Federal Government’s total focus on agriculture and solid mineral for economic diversification and job creation as the emphasis on the two sectors ‘is misplaced’, the most sought after business consultants, researchers and publishers, Tectono Business Review reports.

Professor Soludo made this declaration while delivering a paper entitled: ‘Can a New Buharinomics Save Nigeria?’ at the third anniversary of RealNews Magazine in Lagos. He therefore advised the Federal Government to declare an emergency on industrialization in the country.

According to the World Bank consultant, the present administration should 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.

 He said: “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. 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. 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. 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 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’.”