By Chinwendu Obienyi
Policy makers and Nigerians at large have been advised to focus on the real economic issues that have pushed Nigeria’s economy into crisis, with a view to exiting the current economic crisis.
The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola and Senate President Bukola Saraki, who gave the advice in Lagos on Friday also listed conditions necessary for Nigeria to exit recession and avoid future chaos.
They spoke in Lagos on Friday during The Point Newspaper’s Public Presentation and First Annual Conference on Economic Regeneration.
Sanusi, who was the Special Guest of Honour, at the event blamed the current economic recession on decades of policy failures, which he said had become a clog in the wheel of Nigeria’s economic development.
This was as Saraki and Aregbesola cautioned Nigerians against over-dependence on foreign products at the expense of locally made goods.
Sanusi, however, said stopping Nigerians from consuming imported goods was not the biggest problem confronting the country, but the lack of local production of essential commodities and goods and the will to adopt policies that would drive the growth of quality local production.
The Emir noted, “We have had decades of policy failure. The last decade was Africa’s miracle decade because we moved from a continent that was known for hunger and war to a decade where people were seen as a land of opportunities and investments.
“Nigeria grew at seven per cent every year through out that period as the economy doubled and we became the biggest in Africa, but lack of appropriate policy made us lose all proceeds.”
“I objected to the increase in the minimum wage from N12, 000 o N18, 000 in 2011 because government only had passion to reward the electorate and failed to consider the consequences along the line. By 2011, the Federal Government was spending about 80 per cent of its revenue on personnel and oil price was $110 per barrel and we were producing over two million barrels per day. That was a failed policy,” he said.
Aregbesola, in his speech, described the theme of the annual lecture series, “What is the Economics of Change?” as, “a play on word that indirectly puts to task the campaign mantra of the ruling All Progressives Congress, which promised Nigerians a change for the better during last year’s election campaign.”
He said a decline in the price of crude in the international market had always been the cause of the recession the country had fallen into at different periods. He also attributed the severity of the ongoing recession to lack of foresight and planning on the part of government, adding that the difference between the past recession and the current one was the fact that the previous ones never lasted this long.
“The fundamental problem is that we can no longer fund our imports because our foreign earnings have progressively declined while our taste for and dependence on foreign goods have continued to increase. This is what put pressure on the Naira, makes imported goods to become very expensive and put the economy in a tailspin,” he said.
Also speaking on the occasion, the Senate President said that the time had come for the country to diversify, stressing that it was no longer fashionable to run a monolithic economy.
Saraki, who was represented at the event by the Chairman, Senate Committee of Banking and Finance, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, said his experience at a recent trade exhibition had made it clear that there were potentials laying waste due to over-reliance on oil, which he said had made the economy weak.
“SMEs, not government, not big corporations, hold the key to solving our unemployment problems, raising the GDP, diversifying the economy and promoting production and manufacturing in Nigeria,” he said.
He, however, said that the country had yet to fully harness its economic potentials due to the absence of adequate and deliberate interventions that could support SME development and growth.
UBA wins at Finacle Client Innovation awards
United Bank for Africa has receive global recognition for its commitment to the use of cutting-edge technology to provide simple and convenient banking solutions and services to its customers. The Group was adjudged winner in two categories at the recently concluded Finacle Client Innovation Awards 2016, organised in India by Infosys Limited; a corporation that provides business consulting, information technology and outsourcing services to financial institutions across 19 countries.
UBA won the ‘Award for Process Innovation’ on account of its innovative approach to transaction authentication and reconciliation and also clinched the award for ‘Project Management Innovation’ as a result of the outstanding work it has done on implementing a ‘multi country migration of Finacle core banking solution using the Clustered Rollout concept.
The awards were keenly contested for by financial institutions with over 160 nominations received from across different banks in 94 countries.
Commenting on the awards, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, the Group Managing Director/CEO, UBA Plc said the Finacle Awards is an attestation to the quality of human resources that abound in UBA and the importance the bank places on using information technology to better serve its customers. “UBA has remained the leading bank in driving customer satisfaction and banking penetration across Africa using information and computer technology”. “In achieving this, we have and will continue to commit resources to bringing convenience to our teeming customers,” he added.
The Finacle Client Innovation Awards recognizes some of the breakthrough innovations achieved by the clients, leveraging Finacle solutions. The award celebrates product, channel/distribution, customer service, process, custom component development and project management innovations that have benefitted banks by increasing revenues, profitability, enhancing customer satisfaction and efficiency.
“Using technology to provide consumer satisfaction and excellent banking experience is important to us. In doing this, we emphasised the acquisition of relevant technologies to drive service excellence and innovation in product and services, across all channels” said Chuks Nweke, Executive Director, Operations and Technology, United Bank for Africa.