Government must drive diversification process   – Ekpo

Photo Caption:
Caption: Captain Iheanacho Ebubeogwu receiving the award for Trade Facilitation and Transparency On behalf of the Nigerian Ports Authority, from Mr Marcel Okeke, Anambra State Deputy Governorship aspirant in the last election On the Occassion of the NEPAC Awards ceremony held Thursday at the Sheraton, Lagos Hotel and Towers

By Andy Nssien

The Director-General of the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management ( WAIFEM), Prof. Akpan Hogan Ekpo has stressed the need for the Government to play  active role  in diversifying the Nigerian economy through formulating and implementing strategies for the policy.

He said, it was the strategic thinking of government that would excite the private sector to want to invest in various areas of the economy (diversification), contribute to growth and make profit.

Prof Ekpo who was the Guest Lecturer at the Nigerian Eminent Personalities and Corporates (NEPAC) Awards held at the Sheraton Lagos Hotel & Towers, Ikeja, presented a Paper themed, “Diversification: Path To Sustainable Recovery and Growth”

“The private sector is an engine of growth and not development – the latter is second best.  It is government that is an engine of development utilizing the benefits of growth to ensure equity and fairness. It is government that is concerned about education, health, employment, poverty and inequality, not the private sector,” Ekpo, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom, stated.

He said for the economic diversification to be effective and sustainable there must be good governance embracing an economic blue-print which stressed development as top priority, he said.

The WAIFEM boss identified key economic drivers for successful diversification to include economic blue-print, quality of leadership, macroeconomic stability, political will, capacity building and training, competitive federalism, peace and stability, amongst others.

According to him, there is need for a clear economic blue-print with the understanding that the federal government and states had agreed to foster economic co-operation among their respective states, even as the economic thrust of the co-operating states might be different from that of the government at the center. 

 A visionary leader, he stated, would galvanize the citizens for development, adding that his/her approach to governance would elicit support and enthusiasm from the followership.

“The positive attributes of a good leader would permeate all other levels of leadership. Leadership within the context of good governance would drive the diversification process in the country,” he added.

 

Ekpo stated that macroeconomic stability was essential for diversification to take place, explaining, “the economy must be managed to ensure moderate inflation, ensuring that macroeconomic fundamentals move in the right direction. This would enable potential and domestic investors to plan and weigh costs and benefits of investing in Nigeria.”

 Stressing the import of political will, he said, “ This is both a necessary and secondary condition for economic diversification to be effective and sustainable.  Without political will, diversification would remain an exercise in futility.’

Justifying the need for diversification, the former university don stated  that the sluggish growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the high rates of unemployment and inflation, rising misery indices, non-performance of the manufacturing sector, traditional agricultural practice, high incidence of poverty, among others pointed to the need to diversify the Nigerian economy.

Ekpo noted that  government, policy-makers and other stakeholders were aware of the danger of running a monoculture economy based on crude oil export hence the call for diversifying the economy. But he  added, “No responsible government would plan the long-term development of its economy based on exogenous source of revenue. Nigeria has no control of oil prices as well as the quantity to be produced and exported.”

 “With the new technological revolution, oil would no longer be crucial as energy resource. Therefore, the need for diversification is more urgent than ever. It is important to note that the need for diversification has been on the table for about 50 years,” he further stated.

Explaining the ramification of diversification, he said it connotes the building of a complex system where investments are prevalent in various sectors of the country.

“Even the oil sector would be diversified to have linkages with the petrol-chemical, pharmaceutical and agriculture sub-sectors, among others. Within this context, the oil sector would gradually be demystified.” he added.

The occasion attended by senior executives, top government functionaries, industry operatives, professional groups, diverse economy sectoral leaders, amongst others witnessed the presentation of plaques to nine personalities and corporates who distinguished themselves in various areas of their endeavour.

Fidelity Bank Plc emerged the Best Bank in Corporate Social Responsibility; Central Bank of Nigeria, the Best Public Sector Institution in Agriculture Financing;  Babatunde Raji Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing was awarded for Outstanding Performance in Road Construction and Rehabilitation; while Nigerian Ports Authority was the winner of Best Public Institution in Trade Facilitation and Transparency.

Comrade Joe Ajero, President, United Labour Congress emerged winner in Leadership Excellence in Workers’ Rights Advocacy; Tincan Ports Customs Command was awarded for Outstanding  Performance in Trade Facilitation and Enforcement; Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) for Outstanding Contribution in Foreign Exchange Rate Stabilization; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for Best Public Sector Institution in Maritime Safety and Security; while Nigerian Breweries Plc received the Outstanding Leadership In Sports Sponsorship award.

A brainchild of Nigeria’s leading business and financial journal BusinessUpdate, with an online platform (www.businessupdatereports.com), the Nigerian Eminent Personalities And Corporates (NEPAC) Award was instituted to identify and honour outstanding individuals and organizations that have made significant impact in their various fields of endeavour and contributed meaningfully to the development of the economy.

 

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