The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) is shifting focus to the potential of the non-oil sectors in bolstering the nation’s economy and generating the much-needed foreign exchange, as it announced the second edition of its annual employers’ summit.
Wale-Smatt Oyerinde, the director-general of NECA, who spoke to journalists in Lagos, said it was time the government prioritised these sectors towards stabilising the economy given the volatility of oil prices and the fact that Nigeria does not have control over it.
This, Oyerinde said, has informed the theme of the 2023 Employers’ Summit scheduled to hold at the Abuja Intercontinental Hotel (former Sheraton) from July 10 to 11.
“For over five decades, the Nigerian economy has predominantly depended on crude oil sales, accounting for over 80 percent of the country’s revenue and foreign exchange earnings, albeit, with slight contribution to its GDP growth. Due to the vulnerability of the oil sector, any external shocks with potential to affect the production capacity of the nation always have a significant effect on the economy.
“With these realities, it is obvious that we need trade and non-oil exports not only to drive the economy but also to shore up forex to augment the current shortage. In fact, our options are limited. We must refocus on non-oil exports to change our national economic narratives,” said Oyerinde at a pre-summit press conference, on Monday.
The summit, the NECA DG stated, will also offer the platform to discuss inherent impediments to trade and exports from Nigeria, such as limited Customs cooperation, clearance procedures, restrictive quota, product valuation dispute, restrictive production standard/certification, weigh bridges/measurement, foreign exchange restrictions, limited export finance, unwarranted/multiple checkpoints on trade routes, trade information and technology gaps, with a view to finding solutions.
Expected to speak at the summit where President Bola Tinubu, and his vice, Kashim Shettima, will be special guests of honour, are Akinwunmi Adeshina, AfDB president; Cynthia Samuel-Olajunwon, assistant director-general, International Labour Organisation (ILO); Yonov Agah, director-general, Nigeria Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), and Ezra Yakusak, director-general, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, among other discussants and stakeholders.
The employers’ summit was created to bridge the gap in organised businesses advocacy in Nigeria. The first edition in 2022 focussed on “enthroning the private sector as engine of national development”.