I do not think so. From what I have seen so far, it is not.
Why I think so is that the Federal Government does not respond very fast to economic issues.
You find that some of these economic issues need to be handled very fast as they occur. It will be best if government handles such issues proactively.
But what we see is a situation where the Federal Government takes a long time before responding to these issues. I think this is part of the problem.
It also appears to me that the Federal Government has not made use of some of the best brains we have in the country in driving the economy. We have people who are already experienced, we have people who are versatile and are internationally renowned. These people attract a lot of respect when we engage such people in dealing with the international community and investors, we stand to benefit as a country because they command a lot of respect.
Perception has a whole lot to do with the growth of a nation. What is the perception of the investors and the international community about our country?
You must also consider the general perception of multinational or multilateral agencies about the country.
Perception is very important because if multilateral organisations like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other foreign investors believe that people who are in charge of the economy lack the capacity to drive the economy, it will affect the inflow of investments into the country.
I remember when President Muhammad Buhari brought out the list of members of his economic team, the IMF Director General, Christine Lagarde, said there was no heavyweight economist on that list that will drive the Nigerian economy.
She further said Nigeria should devalue her currency. You see that the whole idea of currency devaluation is a function of perception of people who will either invest or can have impact on the economy of the country.
There is also the issue of how foreign exchange is being managed. There are some allegations of multiple forex windows that are not based on transparency. If there should be any favourable forex window, it should be for core industries that will promote the economy. It should be for those who want to invest in the economy or for those who want to engage in manufacturing of goods. These are the categories of people who should enjoy favourable forex windows.
I do not support the idea that we should not use our forex to fund education. We need ideas and people with knowledge.
We need to go to those institutions where we have the best brains such places are places we need to send our people to learn. To say that we should not use our forex to fund foreign education, in my opinion, is not the best. I do not think Federal Government is doing much to pull Nigeria out of recession. There is so much being said, but little being done about the economy.
- Mr. Muda Yusuf (Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry)
Yes, the government is making efforts; which is why we saw an improvement in economic performance based on what was released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday. But the bulk of that performance actually came from the oil and gas sector and the positive movement we are seeing is essentially as a result of the fact that we have increase in oil prices and an improvement in oil output. For high oil price, you can’t give the credit to the government because it is an international commodity and the price is also global. But for the output you can give credit to government because of the engagements that have been taking place between the Federal Government and people in the Niger Delta or South-South. The engagements seem to have been yielding results. But how that can be sustained, I don’t know. However, so far there has been some respite and we can build on that. So, essentially, it is coming from oil.
But the bigger issue on the challenges of production and job creation outside of oil is still there. Nothing has changed significantly. Even in that report, agriculture, manufacturing and some others did not do well.
The problem of high energy cost, high transportation cost and high interest rates are all there. The foreign exchange problem too is there despite the little appreciation of the Naira against the Dollar witnessed recently. But the problem is still there because manufacturers cannot access the dollars even at the official rate. So, the fact remains that there’s still a lot that needs to be done to move this country out of recession.
- Mr. Tony Ejinkeonye (President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry)
Yes, the current policy of government can take us out of recession in the sense that in the last engagement that the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry had with the Federal Government – particularly the Acting President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and the Ministers of Trade, Planning, and Finance, the government reeled out its economic plans.
We embraced those plans and we were assured that they are going to carry out those plans in an assiduous manner.
And they have already started doing a few things; like I know they held a meeting with some manufacturers from Aba and immediately Standards Organisation of Nigeria, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, and some agencies agreed to reduce the licensing period from about six months to three months and some others.
Those are the kind of things we want to hear and to see. So if they continue on this path, I believe that Nigeria can come out of recession.
- Mr. Steve Obodoekwe (Zonal Director, Civil Liberty Organisation, South-South)
As far as I am concerned, we are still in recession and I believe Nigerians also know the economic recession is still very much with us. We have not noticed any change so far and that is a fact. Apart from the reports that the naira is beginning to regain its strength, people are still in pains, Nigerians are still hungry and Nigerians cannot even enjoy the basic things of life.
If the Federal Government is doing anything to move the country out of economic recession, Nigerians have yet to see the impact. The people should be able to feed. Take a look at the prices of rice and garri, you will see that the prices are not going down and this means hunger to majority for Nigerians.
The truth is that Nigerians are not interested in whatever the Federal Government is doing to pull the country out of recession; we are only interested in results, positive results. Moving forward, government should do away with policies that have been frustrating the rejuvenation of the economy.
All the actions from government that are making the American dollar look as if it is Nigeria’s local currency should be discarded while measures should be taken to boost the production capacity of the country. The youths should be empowered through skills acquisition, while those involved in small and medium enterprises should be encouraged with proper funding.
- Senator Danladi Sankara (A former Federal Lawmaker)
We must not politicise everything. The question to ask is: are Nigerians feeling the impact of what government is doing about the harsh economic situation? It may not be completely right to say government is not doing anything, but the question is where are the results?
There is no use reeling out statistics about what has been done or not done. The economy is not something that is hidden if a government is doing well or not the indices for making an informed assessment are there.
What is the value of the naira against other major world currencies? Let us even come back to Africa, what is the value of the naira against the CFA used among francophone countries? We will need to see more on ground for us to say what government is doing can take us out of recession for now; I have yet to see that.