The Federal Government has been urged to devise an actionable plan for Nigeria to increase its exports and stop depending on the importation of goods.
Stakeholders who spoke at the 2023 summit organised by City Business News in Lagos, said the rage of importation has wreaked more havoc on the Nigerian economy over the years.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Repositioning Nigerian Economy: 2023 and Beyond,’ Khadijat Ifelola Sheidu-Shabi, chairperson of Women in Logistics and Transport (WiLAT), said Nigeria should look inward and initiate a shift from import-dependent to export-oriented economy.
Sheidu-Shabi said women and the nation at large should take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and maximise the opportunities to benefit the nation’s economy.
“We have export terminals coming up and these export terminals are growing. We need to increase our exportation and stop dependence on importation. Our weakness is importation. We even import tissue paper. We need to reposition. Despite all our challenges, I want us to look at the positive side. We are survivors, we can build this country again,” she said.
She, however, raised hope that the fuel subsidy removal would make a difference in economic development if the money is well-channelled.
“Subsidy removal, forex liberalisation, and insecurity have been our major challenges in recent times. We Nigerians are not lazy people. We live up to challenges, what is happening in our country today, if it happens in other countries, they would have gone to war, but we have been able to come out and keep moving forward,” she said.
She enjoined the government to tackle the issue of insecurity headlong to create a safe atmosphere for Nigerians to farm and trade agricultural produce.
On his part, Hassan Bello, principal partner of Justicia Legal Practitioners and former executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, said one of the major problems that Nigeria has is a lack of proper planning.
“Apapa ports were built in the 80s, but no one thought that our population would rise from that time. And so, we began in a way that we don’t even have good roads for transportation. The railway was abandoned. I have never seen a country that has abandoned its rail system like Nigeria. Everything was moved by road, so, we fancy that road until it came to the climax where the ports became congested, and Nigeria lost trillions of naira.
“Why is it that there is no rail connection to the ports, and we have the same thing happening in Lekki now, so planning is part of our major problems,” he said.
Oscar Onyema, group managing director of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, said the economic situation of Nigeria gives rise to the need to explore other options for generating revenue and attracting investors both locally and internationally.
“One of the key areas that could boost the economy as well as create enormous opportunities for investors is the capital market. Investing in the capital market gives the nation an opportunity to unlock new avenues for economic growth and development.
“Capital market serves as a platform for government and businesses to access funds from a broad range of investors, enabling them to expand, innovate, and create new job opportunities,” he said.