As Nigeria marks its 63rd Independence today, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has addressed the huge implications of the sub-optimal performance of the country in past 63 years.
According to the LCCI, Nigerians have persevered in promoting democracy, stressing that the country has become Africa’s Pride since 1999 in spite of its economic challenges
The LCCI President, Dr Michael Olawale-Cole, said this on Saturday in Lagos, in a report to commemorate Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Day Anniversary.
Olawale-Cole said Nigeria’s economy also struggled with high inflation, weak currency, declining reserves, rising debt burden, high and rising unemployment, rising income gaps and poverty levels.
According to him, a review of the past 63 years shows that the Nigerian economy performed sub-optimally with huge implications on citizens’ welfare and rising uncertainty.
”In spite of these challenges, 24 years ago, Nigerians’ support for democracy has earned the country enormous goodwill as one the few stable democracies in Africa.
”The present administration has implemented far-reaching policy reforms, such as removal of fuel subsidy, exchange rate harmonisation, tax reforms and many more in an effort to change the country’s growth trajectory.
”Sustaining market-friendly policies and promoting macroeconomic stability is one of the most important steps in achieving optimal growth and improving citizens welfare,” he said.
He said that Nigeria must address the fundamental constraints hindering manufacturing competitiveness to drive the drastic transformation required for meaningful economic prosperity.
He also called for an urgent review of the wage structure of Nigerian workers, adding that at 30 dollars for 30 days, the minimum wage remained extremely poor.
According to him, this is particularly important given the current high inflation rate, volatile exchange rate, low Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, weak infrastructure and insecurity among others.
”I call on the Federal Government to address the macroeconomic issues and the insecurity challenges facing the country.
”The economic growth trend, measured by the GDP performance, has generally been positive over the last two decades, except for recent challenges posed by debt crises, inflation risks, insecurity, post-effect of subsidy removal, and foreign exchange illiquidity.
”The business environment remains a concern to investors, especially in the real sector.
”Weak infrastructure, uncertain policy environment, and institutions have continued to adversely affect the efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness of many enterprises.
”These conditions pose a major risk to job creation, economic inclusion, and competitiveness, especially with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement now in place,” he said.
Olawale-Cole, who wished the government and people of Nigeria a happy 63rd Independence Day Anniversary, said the way forward was to address the fundamental constraints to manufacturing competitiveness.
He said key challenges in the business environment such as inadequate power supply for production and generally weak infrastructure must also be addressed.
He commended the Federal Government for providing clarity on the economy and the President’s Eight-Points Agenda, saying its full implementation would ensure optimal growth and improved citizens welfare.