The Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, has urged the Federal Government to focus on building vibrant agricultural and manufacturing sectors, to further grow the nation’s economy.
Wigwe who said this while delivering a paper on “Nigerian Business Outlook 2015” at a breakfast meeting of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, added that a revolution in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors of the economy would help the country to overcome its present economic challenges.
Wigwe stressed that the nation was blessed with so many natural resources, which should necessitate a reduction in the importation of goods, to enhance the growth of the nation’s local products.
“Nigeria needs to begin to look inwards; we import cocoa, rice, rubber, palm oil. If we stop importing rice, all of us will be forced to eat the locally produced rice.
“We import palm oil, a product that we used to export to Malaysia and Indonesia; it’s the height of indiscipline.
“It is immaterial that all of these products can not generate the same revenue. We have to begin to push all these agricultural products so that the revenue that accrues from them can be substantial,” Wigwe said.
He noted that the present economic situation would soon make some Nigerian parents to withdraw their children from foreign schools, to local tertiary institutions.
“Nigerian parents spend about $300 million yearly in paying school fees for their children overseas. More parents will soon start bringing their kids back home to study in the country.
“Some parents sell their jewellery to finance their children but you can only sell jewellery to someone who is interested in buying. More so, after selling all your jewellery, what else do you sell,” he said.
Wigwe said that the present economic climate was a period for Nigerians to tighten their belts, learn to cut costs and reflect on how we could support our lives and the economy.
Also speaking, Bismarck Rewane, Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Company Ltd, said that there were great potentials for trade and investment, in spite of the bleak economic outlook.
He said that the current economic challenges being faced by the country was one that had been subsisting.
“It is a Nigerian problem that must be solved by Nigerians in its entirety. There’s a need for Nigerians to hold the government accountable so that they can transform governance.”
He noted a 300 per cent increase in spending on health by Nigerians, with a life expectancy of 51 years, and 1,000 per cent being spent on education because we are in an aspiration society.
Rewane added that Nigerians also spent 50 per cent more on alternative power supply, with most people paying for rent because they do not have a mortgage.
He said that proper investment in healthcare would reduce the number of those seeking medical attention abroad.
Rewane urged the government to improve the standard and quality of education in the country, by restoring autonomy to tertiary institutions and granting scholarships to many students.