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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Be “realistic”, Tinubu cannot solve the country’s problems in one year

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Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, says Nigerians must be “realistic” and not expect President Bola Tinubu to solve the country’s problems in a year.

Although Nigerians faced challenges before Mr Tinubu’s inauguration last May, continued increases in transport costs caused by the removal of fuel subsidy by the Tinubu administration have led to inflation and difficulties unprecedented economic situation in Nigeria.

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Federal and state government interventions to cushion the impact of subsidy removal have yet to have a significant impact on the country’s large population.

Sanusi, however, believes the Tinubu administration’s policies are necessary.

“At this point, it is important for us as Nigerians to be realistic,” Sanusi said on Thursday while delivering a keynote address at the Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit 2024 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

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“The mismanagement of the last 10 years will not be solved in six months or a year,” Sanusi added, referring to the economic difficulties caused by the elimination of the oil subsidy.

“We need to understand that some of the difficult things will take time to resolve in the economy. It will take us a little time to see a turnaround, but those decisions are absolutely necessary for us to save the economy,” he said.

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Sanusi, an ally of President Tinubu, is a leading advocate of removing the oil subsidy. He has been consistent in advocating the removal of petrol subsidy by the Tinubu administration despite opposition from many Nigerians, including labor unions.

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“We always knew we would have to go through this process if we didn’t change course. And we have seen this film in Zimbabwe, we have seen it in Venezuela, we have seen it in Argentina. “It’s a movie we don’t want to be a part of.”

The three countries Sanusi mentioned have experienced major social crises due to economic collapse.

Sanusi, however, said he hoped the difficulties would be short-lived and that Nigeria would soon return to the path of economic growth.

Elimination of gasoline subsidy

President Tinubu announced during his inauguration on May 29, 2023 that the gasoline subsidy had disappeared. This caused an increase in the price of the product from less than 200 naira per liter to more than 600 naira. The price increase, along with other government policies such as floating the naira, has led to huge increases in the prices of goods and services.

However, despite the presidential announcement, the Nigerian government is still believed to subsidize gasoline by trillions of naira annually and the IMF says the Tinubu administration’s controversial reintroduction of subsidies will cost Africa’s largest crude producer approximately 8.43 trillion naira of its projected 17.7 trillion naira oil revenue in 2024.

Fubara’s ‘thoughtful and brave decision’

Sanusi said it was a thoughtful and courageous decision by Governor Siminalayi Fubara’s administration to host the 2024 Rivers Economy and Investment Summit, and that he considered it an “absolute honour” to be a keynote speaker.

“At this time in our history, when the country is desperate to chart a new course in economic thinking and opts for a paradigm shift that seeks to harness our vast potential and propel us towards sustainable growth and prosperity, the decision to center governance around economic development through investment promotion is a very thoughtful and courageous decision by the Rivers State Government.

“This is all the more true because reforming an economy, whether of the state or the federation at large, requires difficult decisions. These are policies that can be painful and unpopular and that are usually not liked by politicians who need re-election. But that is the only way to guarantee a better future for the people,” Sanusi said.

The former CBN governor said Rivers, with its arable land, abundant oil and water resources and strategic location, has the potential to become an investor’s paradise and a major economy in West Africa if the right decisions and actions are taken. correct.

“The recent boom in mechanized agriculture, international trade, transport, tourism, real estate and ICT that has been witnessed in the state is evidence that Rivers is ripe for investment and growth,” he said.

Sanusi said Rivers, with its oil resources, has contributed immensely to Nigeria’s economy, but having oil or any natural resources is not enough for economic development.

“I have said it again and again that if we extracted all the oil that is under the soil in Nigeria today and sold it and shared the money among all Nigerians, at best we would be a lower middle income country. So, oil is a resource, but not enough to make us a rich country.

“To achieve development, it is imperative that we recognize the need to take specific measures that transcend natural resources, to diversify and institutionalize fundamental economic frameworks.”

He called on political and business leaders, and residents of Rivers State, to embrace innovation and reforms that could make the state attractive for investments that would ultimately generate a prosperous future.

Sanusi left the event venue immediately after his presentation. PREMIUM TIMES reported that shortly after the event, the Kano State Government announced that he had been reinstated as Emir of Kano, a position from which he was removed in 2020.

What we are doing to change things – Fubara

Governor Fubara on Wednesday told the summit audience that his administration, two weeks ago, launched a N4 billion counterpart fund lending scheme with the Bank of Industry Limited for small, micro and medium enterprises in order to promote financial inclusion and improve growth and development.

The loan scheme, he said, would grow the Rivers economy and create jobs and wealth for the people.

The governor said his administration, which will be one year old on May 29, approved the establishment of the Rivers State Investment Promotion Agency to provide comprehensive investment and facilitation services to investors in the state.

“In the first year of our administration, we received an appreciable number of expressions of interest from local and foreign investors to invest in various sectors of our economy, including agriculture, real estate, power generation and manufacturing.

“We have signed a development agreement with TAF Nigeria Limited for the construction of 20,000 mixed houses in the metropolitan city of Port Harcourt. We signed another agreement with Gosh Nigeria Limited for the construction of an international spare parts market. The state government provided hundreds of lands as heritage and work has since started on both sites.”

Continuing, Fubara said: “Apache Aluminum LLC of America has commenced the acquisition of land to establish a multi-billion naira aluminum rolling mill (plant) in the Ogoni axis of Rivers.

“We have started talks with Israel’s Imagine Adama Agriculture and Technology to support the State in developing our enormous agricultural potential, including the revival of abandoned agricultural infrastructure and projects, such as the Rivers Songhai farm, School-to-land farms, fish farms, feed farms. mills, oil palm plantations and poultry farms throughout the state. For this project we have allocated about 10 million dollars this fiscal year.”

New city, mangrove conservation

Governor Fubara said the Rivers State Executive Council last week approved a proposal to build a new city, New Port City, in the state on about 1,000 hectares of land in collaboration with the Greater Port Harcourt City Authority.

The proposal for the new city, according to the governor, was presented by Rainbow Heritage Group, a real estate firm.

“We have also concluded agreements for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Planet One Holding Limited of Dubai for a $10,000,000 Mangrove Conservation and Carbon Capture Project under the Public Private Partnership agreement,” the governor.

“As a state, Rivers State is blessed with enormous human and natural resources, including oil and gas, fertile soil, solid minerals and an extensive coastline with large bodies of water.

“The state is the focal point of the oil and gas industry in West Africa. We represent more than 40 percent of the country’s onshore crude oil production and 100 percent of the liquefied gas the country exports.

“The state is also the second largest economy in Nigeria, and with a nominal GDP of over $28.4 billion, the state’s economy ranks among the top 25 economies in Africa, comparable to countries such as Botswana, Rwanda and Gabon .

“The state has a relatively strong infrastructure, including good roads, two seaports, an international airport and a free trade zone, and with a population of more than seven million indigenous, educated and highly hospitable people, and a conducive environment for business. Rivers State is at the center of diverse economic opportunities.”

READ ALSO: Four years after dethronement, Sanusi restored as Emir of Kano

Investment opportunities

Fubara spoke of investment opportunities in Rivers and appealed to investors to come to the state.

He said his administration has prioritized peace and security and has focused on growing the Rivers economy through partnerships and collaborations in line with the belief that it is the private sector, not the state government, that grows the economy, creates jobs and guarantees wealth. and prosperity for the people.

“Rivers State offers several investment opportunities in various sectors of our economy, including oil and gas, agriculture and agro-processing, manufacturing, hospitality and tourism, education, ICT and healthcare, infrastructure development, glass products and production of clothing, and energy. generation and transmission, to name a few.

“With over 40 per cent fertile arable land mass, Rivers State has the potential to make a significant contribution to national food security with commercial investments in mechanized agriculture and agro-processing industrial value chains.

“Several state-owned but moribund enterprises, agricultural lands and business infrastructure, including oil palm plantations, rubber plantations, poultry and fish farms, are available for interested private investors to take over and revitalize. Furthermore, Rivers State presents lucrative opportunities for commercial production of high-value cash crops for the export market,” the governor said.

A former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, chaired the two-day summit.

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