…Says economy on recovery course
By Louis Iba
Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, says the economy is on the path of recovery and was not really sliding deeper into a recession as feared by some stakeholders and investors.
Onu, who spoke while on a tour of Erisco Foods Limited in Lagos yesterday, also appealed to local manufacturers to stay optimistic and not shut down existing manufacturing plants owing to the numerous challenges plaguing their businesses, especially access to foreign exchange and electricity.
The Minister who spoke in response to calls by the Agricultural Products and Equipment Manufacturers Association for the government to make forex available to them to import spares and raw materials or they would shut down and lay off staff, said there were ongoing efforts by the government to address some of the challenges facing local manufacturers and therefore called for patience and understanding from local investors.
He noted that the civil service was regulated by a structure that tended to slow down so many positive policy approvals by government as opposed to what was obtainable in the private sector.
Onu said good days would soon come for manufacturers as ongoing government economic recovery efforts are targeted more at creating an economy that would be resilient to commodity price shocks particularly from the crude oil and natural gas sectors.
He said as at May 2015 when the present government came on board, there were signs that the economy was plunging into a crisis as prices of crude oil kept crashing at the international market. He, however, dismissed those who were cynical of the ongoing efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to salvage the economy insisting that there was a lot of determination and hard work on the part of government and its economic team towards the diversification of the economy and that the dividend would soon be enjoyed by citizens.
“I want to assure Nigerians that we are determined to change the economy for better. The journey has started and we believe we will get there,” Onu said.
“President Buhari is so committed to our economic recovery efforts and we will work to get there very soon. We are working to build an economy that won’t rely on crude oil and gas alone because we have seen what can happen whenever there is a crash in commodity prices.
“But if we diversify, and this takes some time, we can build an economy on the other sectors that we can always fall back on. That’s why we are encouraging our farmers and also encouraging manufacturers not to close down so that we can create jobs and feed our citizens. And there is no how we can achieve food security if we can’t produce locally. So we are supporting local firms. We have to start looking inward as a nation. We need to start patronising locally made goods and foods. Manufacturers also have to be patient with us,” he added. The Sun