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NES #26: Nigeria’s Lack Of Commitment To Rule Of Law Confusing The Investing World – NESG

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… Says Nigeria Must Copy Chinese Spirit To Grow Economy

…Nigeria’s Recession Will Be Short-Lived – Minister Of Finance

By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
THE world does not trust our commitment to the rule of law and the impartiality and efficiency of our dispute resolution processes. Our multiple exchange rates, policy flip flops and perception of how we react to investors, confuses the investing world.

Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Asue Ighodalo said on Monday in Abuja.

He added: “For a country in desperate need of development momentum and capital, the events of last month were bad for morale, confidence and business. Of the $19 trillion invested in negative yielding assets globally, NONE of it has been invested in Nigeria, regardless of what it can earn, because our investment environment has been tagged “unwelcoming, unsafe, and unpredictable”

“At a time when our fiscal space is constrained, by low revenues and high debt, the need to strengthen the attractiveness of the investment climate to encourage local and foreign investments is of utmost importance.”

Ighodalo who stated this in his welcome address at 26th Nigerian Economic Summit maintained that: “These are not labels we can afford particularly now.”

Nothing that the current American theatrics, peace and stability remained key investment indicators, the Chairman regretted that this was happening even as the nation is in competition with many developing countries across the globe for patient capital.

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He continued: “We cannot undo yesterday, but we most certainly can and should manage the fallout with the wisdom and diplomacy that match this moment in time.

“Our belief at the NESG is that resolution must come through dialogue, advocacy, disciplined, thoughtful, challenges to the status quo in the interest of our collective progress, as well as sincere and concerted resolve to act decisively to bring about required changes.

“Time has shown this to be the only way that civilized societies successfully resolve conflict and make traction toward their ideals.

“The truth of our national ‘Now’ however is this: as far as we may have come, we have not come far enough. We cannot expect young people to thank us for past sacrifices, while we hand them a nation relegated to watching globalization from the sidelines without partaking of its bounty, whilst sharing only in its pandemics and economic shutdowns.”

According to Ighodalo, Nigeria would explain away the disappointing indicators that led it into recession by pointing out that the pandemic slowed progress on many fronts, and would make it the explanation for its failure to achieve traction in the year 2020 and start a reversal of these indicators. But regretted that these are not ordinary times.

He explained further: “And, as easy as it would be to explain away our continuing decline with the words “global pandemic”, I would challenge us to bear in mind that while the Nigerian economy is expected to contract by nearly 5 percent, the Chinese economy is on track to grow by over 1percent, this year.

“This is despite China being the epicenter of the pandemic, with almost twice as many cases and four times as many deaths as we experienced. The Chinese economy, in fact, has not contracted since 1976.

“Its growth streak has lasted for over four decades, through the global financial crisis, trade wars with the United States, and now a pandemic that tore through their country first, before splintering out to others.

“China has shown us what a serious nation can do when it looks back on its history, resolves “never again” to fail its citizens, and forges forward with a sense of urgency, discipline and purpose.

“It is essential to note that this comparison with China is not misplaced. In 1983 Nigeria’s per capita income was double that of China, and today, despite its population, China’s per capita income is over five times that of Nigeria.

“So while there are many plausible rationalisations for the state of our economy, I would urge us to engage throughout this summit with the example of China etched firmly in our consciousness.

“They put behind them the failed “Great Leap Forward” policy that caused tens of millions of Chinese deaths and fixed their eyes forward on the task of becoming a global superpower.

“There was audacity to their vision. It is also time that we put audacity to our vision.

“Please note that this is not an argument for us to copy and paste the Chinese model. Far from it, however, we must copy the Chinese spirit.

“A plan that worked for China four decades ago is unlikely to offer a viable blueprint for our own development today.

“The world has changed. However, if China can consistently grow and pull millions of her people out of poverty, why can’t we?

“We must urgently define our own path, galvanise our people, and just work like our lives depend on it. We cannot make this pandemic, or indeed any other hurdles we will encounter, an acceptable explanation for failing to forge forward, not with 200 million lives hanging in the balance and more than half living below the poverty line.

“We must give those 200 million Nigerians something to hope, live and work for, We must provide Nigerians with a future to believe in, and we must be in a hurry to make that hope and future a reality – one that can be felt, touched and experienced by everyone, everywhere – from our vibrant urban centres to the very last inch of the last mile of our deep rural communities.

“There is no better time to commit to this future than now. Year 2020 marks the commencement of the Global Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals, with the powerful promise and possibility of leaving no one behind in Nigeria.”

Speaking, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Dr. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, assured Nigerians that the country’s recession would be short-lived.

She said that by the fourth quarter of this year or in the first quarter of 2021, Nigeria would exit recession.

She said the recession was occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic which ravaged the entire world.

According to her, many other countries were also forced into recession because of the virus, stressing that the outbreak of COVID-19, the Nigerian economy was experiencing sustained growth.

She stated that the growth in the economy had been on quarterly basis, until the second quarter of 2020, when the impacts of the COVID-19 hit the economy hard.

Explaining that Nigeria was not alone in the woods, the minister noted that the nation had outperformed economies like the United Kingdom and others who went into recesson in the afternath of the pandemic.

She said that while the economy had entered into recession in the third quarter, the trend of the growth suggested that “this would be a short-lived recession, and indeed by the fourth or, at worst, the first quarter of 2021, the country will exit recession.”

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