Reaction of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry to President’s New Year Speech
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry notes with deep interest the new year speech of President Muhammadu Buhari especially the policy outlays on economy and security. We particularly note with commendation the declaration of Mr President to frontally address challenges of insecurity in relation to economic revival of the nation.
The Presidential promise to re-energize and reorganize the security apparatus and personnel of the security and military services is a welcome development. The urgent need to enhance capacity to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against our communities, cannot be over-emphasised.
This is so because there is a nexus between insecurity and economic downturn especially with respect to the agricultural sector. Insecurity especially in some parts of the northern region constitutes a serious threat to the operations and activities of farmers and farming firms. Tackling insecurity will thus enhance the admnistration’s goal of revamping the economy through the national economic diversification agenda that supports the primary goal of national food self-sufficiency.
We also note the administration’s desire to continue the rebuilding of our national infrastructure base and, in the process, introducing transformation through the rehabilitation, modernization, and expansion of the railway system, national roads and bridges both in rural and urban centres, alongside the airports and seaports. Forging ahead on this path will help to bridge the infrastructural deficit without which Nigerian economy cannot operate on competitive basis regionally or internationally.
The question of local content in major infrastructural projects should be addressed. We specifically urge the administration to diversify financing sources for critical transport projects while also ensuring opening up of the railway sector for private sector investment. The present project model especially for the railway sector is not sustainable considering the huge needs of Nigeria for railway infrastructure.
Addressing infrastructural deficit should also go side by side with resolving the power sector hicupps. We particularly note the mass metering initiative. It is a major policy to address tariff issues plaguing the electricity sector. We however urge the administration to engage local meter manufacturers more robustly to enhance local content.
We also note the Siemens initiative to boost distribition capacity and the World Bank/AfDB programme to strengthen the transmission sub-sector. It is our view that the various reforms ongoing within the power sector could expand the generation and distribution of electricity for use in homes and factories.
The avowed declaration to focus on a series of special interventions designed to boost job creation and support the entrepreneurial drive of our youths is a welcome step. We urge the administration to expand cooperation with the organised private sector through the various Chambers of Commerce and Industry especially in the implementation of this initiative and several other ongoing interventions.
On the reopening of borders, we agree with the administration that the pent-up demand of legitimate cross-border and international trade will boost the fortunes of the many small businesses and agricultural enterprises that depend on Nigeria’s trade and commerce. We must however as a nation address core issues to dissaude cross – border smuggling by deepening application of ease of doing business programmes at our ports and across the economy.
As a leading business Chamber, the ACCI is committed to supporting government in the implementation of many of these noble policies. We will make our platforms available especially for policy engagement of stakeholders from private and public sectors to ensure fruitful policy implementation.
Alhaji Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, FCA,
Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry