Bello, Sheidu-Shabi, encourage exports, AfCFTA opportunities
The Federal Government has been urged to devise an actionable plan for Nigeria to increase its exports and stop depending on importation of goods.
Stakeholders who spoke at the 2023 summit organised by City Business News Online in Lagos, said the rage of importation has wreaked more havoc on the Nigerian economy over the years.
Principal Partner, Justicia Legal Practitioners and Former Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello while calling for more exports explained that one of the major problems that Nigeria have is lack of proper planning.
He said: The Apapa ports were built in the 80s, but no one thought that our population will rise from that time. And so, we began in a way that we don’t even have good roads for transportation. The railway was abandoned. I have never seen a country that has abandoned its rail system like Nigeria. Everything was moved by road, so we fancy that road until it came to the climax where the ports became congested and Nigeria losing trillions of naira.
“Why is it that there is no rail connection to the ports, and we have the same thing happening in Lekki now, so planning is part of our major problems,” he sad.
Speaking on the theme: “Repositioning Nigerian Economy: 2023 and Beyond” the Chairperson, Women in Logistic and Transport (WiLAT), Pharm Khadijat Ifelola Sheidu-Shabi, said she is hopeful that Nigeria will rise again, but it should look inward and initiate a shift from import-dependent to export-oriented economy.
Sheidu-Shabi said the women and the nation at large should take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and maximize the opportunities to the benefit of the nation’s economy.
“I know that we have export terminals coming up and these export terminals are growing. We need to increase our exportation and stop dependence on importation.
“Somebody said if we are denied everything imported, Nigeria will be the greatest country in the world, because he knows that Nigerians can do a lot. Our weakness is importation. We even import tissue paper. Tissue paper for crying out loud! We need to reposition. What can’t we do? Despite all our challenges, I want us to look at the positive side of us. We are survivors, we can build this country again,” she said.
She however raised hope that the fuel subsidy saga would make a difference in the economic development, if it is well channeled.
“I know that the subsidy removal, forex liberalisation and insecurity have been our major challenges in recent times. We Nigerians are not lazy people. We live up to challenges, what is happened in our country today, if it happens in other countries, they would have gone to war, but we have been able to come out and we keep moving forward,” she said.
She enjoined the government to tackle the issue of insecurity headlong to create a safe atmosphere for Nigerians to farm and trade agricultural produce.
Group Managing Director, Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, Oscar Onyema, said the economic situation of Nigeria gives rise to the need to explore other options of generating revenue and attracting investors both locally and internationally.
Oscar who was represented at the event by Group Chief Investment Officer, Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, (NGX), Mr Tony Idugboe said: “One of the key areas that could boost the economy as well as create enormous opportunities for investors is the capital market. Investing in the capital market gives the nation an opportunity to unlock new avenues for economic growth and development. Capital market serves as a platform for government and businesses to access funds from a broad range of investors, enabling then to expand, innovate, and create new job opportunities.”