Nigeria may miss 2020 economy target

By Collins Olayinka

Nigeria may not join the group of 20 top economically vibrant nations of the world by 2020 as envisioned by President Umaru Yar’Adua unless attention is shifted from the extractive to industrial sector of the economy, warns Abdulwahed Omar, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

Omar, while berating successive governments for lacking creativity on how to revive the nation’s economy, said effort must be geared towards resurrecting the productive sector of the economy for the general good.

The labour leader, speaking in Abuja at the delegates’ conference of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers (NUTGTWN), declared that joining the enviable group of industrialised nations by 2020 was only being mouthed by government officials as there were no concrete steps being taken to ensure realisation of the dream.

He said: “Unfortunately, even as we speak, we are not seeing any imaginative and incisive policy response to the crisis of the industrial sector, especially the textile sub-sector. Yet, there has been so much rhetoric by this government about transforming the Nigerian economy into one of the largest 20 economies by the year 2020.

“What is emerging is that Nigeria will end up among the bottom 20 economies of the world by the year 2020, given the current trend of factory closures. Nigeria stands the risk of parading some of the worst development indicators in the world by the year 2020 if the factory closures and massive job losses are allowed to continue.”

According to him, the imminent total demise of the textile industry in the country is a metaphor for a nation in economic inertia.

He hinted that the nation’s focus on the extractive sector for survival was an escapist approach adopted by successive governments.

His words: “Today is a day for mourning the fate of the textile industry and indeed the fate of the industrial sector in Nigeria. The state of the textile sub-sector indicates the rolling back of the progress that the nation has made in the manufacturing sector. The poor state of the textile industry is basically a cumulative failure of governance.

“The nation is paying for the inability of successive leaders to do what is right in order to improve the real sector. It is regrettable that Nigerian leaders have been fixated on the extractive sector, without an intelligent appreciation of the long-term role of the industrial sector in economic development.”

While commending President Yar’Adua for recognising the need to diversify the economy away from non-renewal oil and to improve on the country’s stock of infrastructure, he, however, identified lack of macro-economic, trade and industrial policy instruments as the major missing links.

To restore the buoyancy of the nation’s economy, Omar declared that the time has come for the country to restore the culture of planning and activist intervention, especially in the industrial sector.

He stressed that the provision of the N70 billion textile intervention support fund was not sufficient, given the problems in the sector.

He added: “Worse still, it appears that the process of disbursing the N70 billion has been hijacked by traders, importers and other parasitic elements, which means that genuine operators in the industry stand very little chances of accessing the fund.”

Irrespective of the price of crude oil at the international market, Omar observed that considering the high cost of energy which accounts for the unsustainable cost of operation for most players in the industrial sector, the immediate policy challenge “is to sustain the current domestic price levels of fuel products and guarantee cheaper access to black oil, which is a vital requirement of the textile and other industrial sub-sectors.”

The NLC helmsman also stated that beyond the public euphoria that had greeted revelations at the public hearing on the power sector, the money, when recovered, should be re-channelled into the improvement of power generation.

He also called for the convocation of a national industry, growth and jobs summit to address the challenges confronting the productive sector of the economy.

He said: “The industrial sector is now a disaster area and we need all stakeholders to sit down to develop a road map that can bail it out. As we have said before, the 2020 agenda will remain at best a huge joke if this government does not begin to address the crisis of the industrial sector.”

1 Response to “Nigeria may miss 2020 economy target”

  1. 1 smart kid October 4, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I have a little exercise I like to do. I STOP worrying about the economy, the gold prices rising at a scary pace, a new rev…. I just STOP thinking about all that. does burrying my head under sand make me an ostritch?

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