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Buhari calls for increased patronage of made-in-Nigeria products

President Muhammadu Buhari has called for increased patronage of locally-made products, saying that this is the only way the new Nigeria can be realised.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Lagos International Trade Fair, which is ongoing in Lagos, Buhari said Nigeria must be a nation that produces what it consumes and consumes what it produces.

Represented by Maryam Katagum, minister of state for industry, trade and investment, Buhari said the vast majority of developed countries rely mainly on small and medium enterprises that are ready to take risks and engender growth.

“The increasing number of unemployed youths has made entrepreneurship a viable platform,” he said.

He said his government is committed to supporting MSMEs to ensure that their products reach the rest of the world.

He further said the government has expanded the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) scheme to boost exports and earn more foreign exchange for the economy.

He saluted the resilience of SMEs participating in the fair, saying the Lagos trade fair would enhance business confidence and could lead to more foreign direct investments (FDIs) into the country.

On his part, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State governor, said the state government would continue to support the private sector and be its partner in progress.

“We shall leave no stone unturned to ensure that Lagos State becomes a 21st century economy,” Sanwo-Olu, who was represent by Obafemi Hamzat, deputy governor of the state, said.

He said government’s objective is to make the state Africa’s model mega city and a destination for FDIs.

He explained that the state understands that 85 percent of the economy rests in the private sector, saying that the government takes it very seriously and understands it must make it easier for businesses to thrive.

Babatunde Paul Ruwase, president of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), organiser of the trade fair, said the generic theme of the trade fair ‘Connecting Businesses, Creating Value’ underscores the importance of a robust business interactions to generate wealth and create value for the advancement of the Nigerian economy and the welfare of the citizens.

“This year’s trade fair is different from previous ones and one of the latest initiatives is the creation of a special hall for exhibitors from other African nations tagged ‘Africa Hall’,” he said.

“Creating a platform to promote trade and bilateral relations is of utmost importance to the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We are committed to ensure the business environment is enabling for all investors,” he further said.

He added that the chamber’s programmes and activities are geared towards facilitating the realisation of the economic and social objectives of the government and making Nigeria an attractive destination for investment.

He said the country’s economic and investment policies must be friendly to make it a major investment hub in Africa.

“We need the right policies as well as strong commitment to infrastructural development to revive investors’ confidence in our economy. Our policies must be one that supports the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises, so they can impact substantially on the economy in terms of growth, job creation and value generation,” he stated.

Gabriel Idahosa, chairman, Trade Promotion Board, LCCI, said the 2019 trade fair is a veritable platform to promote a robust business interaction to generate wealth and create value for the African region and deepen the relationship with the rest of world.

Victor Osadolor, group deputy managing director of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), the headline partner of the fair, said the bank has been supporting entrepreneurs, especially through Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Osadolor said more than 7,000 entrepreneurs have accessed seed capital through UBA, adding that the bank has keyed into government intervention funds to expand credit access for entrepreneurs.

“We remain committed to developing more businesses across Africa,” he said.

“At UBA, we are committed to being a role model. We have, over the years, supported different industries from loans to advisory support and to infrastructure,” he said.

 

ODINAKA ANUDU

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