Monday, January 7, 2013

Jonathan fulfilled campaign promises in 2012, claims Okupe

I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Doyin Okupe 'Jonathan Attack Lion" where he told me among other audience that President Jonathan delivered his  campaign promises in 2012, i can't but look back year 2012, where we had the worst of dividend of democracy, while many thanks to journalism "we are forced to listen to liars many times", here is my published work after the meeting

Jonathan fulfilled campaign promises in 2012, claims Okupe


On fulfillment of campaign promises Jonathan's Okupe, refuted claims that President Jonathan has not fulfilled mos

t of the promises he made to Nigerians during the election that brought him into power saying, he was optimistic that the year 2013 will be the "year of Nigeria's glory. He also

added that Nigerians were seriously lamenting before the coming of Jonathan, but according to him, the lamentations have started to decrease.

"To say that Nigerians lamented the most in 2012, that is not true. There were lamentations before. The President on assumption of office said the days of lamentations are over, so in gradual sequence, the lamentations started to decrease. Gladly enough, stage by stage, most of the promises he made are being fulfilled gradually.

"2013 is a year of Nigeria's glory. The president has said it. Good things are coming to Nigeria. There will be growth in all ramifications. There will be regular power supply" he said.


On Boko Haram

Okupe said even though the President has not foreclosed direct interface with the group, the dialogue would have to be constructive with highest level of sincerity. He said the Federal Government was not against dialogue but that the real representatives of the sect must first of all be identified before genuine dialogue can take place. 

"I believe that most Nigerians are interested in dialogue and that this ultimately would be the best way of resolving the issue, but dialogue would have to be constructive. You have to identify genuine people and when the proper stage is set for dialogue, the government would

surely be interested", he sai


Even so, the President said more than 70% of the intended action of the sect is being foiled by security agencies, adding that Aso rock has the capability to secure and

protect the people of the country. "The Federal Government has curtailed the insurgency, it's no longer escalating. There is containment with both the numbers and locations. Don't forget that insurgency is not easy to contain anywhere in the world, but the government has a responsibility to protect the people and it's doing just that.

"So, we should be careful with the way we criticize the President; we should measure our utterances. You don't destroy a country because you want to criticize the Federal Government. Boko haram only spread to seven states when it began and has been contained to three stat

es. How then can people be saying that the country is not safe?" He asked.


On Anenih's appointment as NPA Chairman

Reacting to condemnations that trailed last week appointment of Chief Anthony Anenih as the Chairman of th

e Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), the Presidential spokesperson said that there was nothing wrong in appointing the veteran politician to use his vast experience to guide the professionals in NPA. He said the various allegations leveled against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain have not been proven in the court of law and that records have shown that they are all lies. 

He particularly mentioned the billions of Naira that Anenih was alleged to have collected when he was the Minister of Works, saying that the money was only budgeted by the ministry and was not released. "Why then should people be accusing him of embezzling money when the money was not released?" he queried. 


On FG's action on fuel subsidy

Okupe assured Nigerians that the coming year will be the country's year of glory and that the Federal Government did not make a mistake in its handling of the fuel subsidy issue in January this year. He said the Jonathan's administration is a very responsive government and that, according to him, explains why the government, after due consultations bow to the wishes of the Nigerian people through the reduction in petrol price from N141 to N97 per litre. "I am not being pompous or irrational but I don't agree that government made a mistake given the

way it handled the fuel subsidy issue. As responsible government, if you do something wrong and you come to the realization, you should agree that you make a mistake, but in that particular situation, from government perspective, it wasn't a mistake. I don't think government made a mistake; I am speaking from government's position, I don't think it was an error. Government backed down to the wishes of the people which are a responsible thing to do in a democracy".


On refineries

He also spoke on the nation's refineries saying just like an old car, the refineries in the country are old and instead of spending money on frequent maintenance, the best option is to sell it off and purchase a new one.

On why the federal government did not partner with those operating illegal refineries in the creeks to raise the refineries to a standard level and make them legal, Okupe said the operation of illegal refineries has nothing to with national growth and development. "The refineries are working and I believe that even in re

cent times, the recent figure that we have is that majority of the refineries we have are very, very old. The least of them is about 30 years in age or more. So, we are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. The best thing to do is to do away with these refineries. It is like having an old car and you don't have money to purchase a new"

2012: The untold hardship of Nigeria's Manufacturing sector

Ayodele Samuel, Lagos

The Nigerian manufacturing sector performed 'poorly' in the out gone year, as experts say the manufacturing sector contributed only 5 per cent to the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), in its Business Environment Report 2012 disagreed with the Federal Government's claims of significant economic growth on the nation's economy, while the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) recently said  no fewer than 800 companies in Nigeria closed shop between 2009 and 2011 mainly due to harsh operating business environment.

  NACCIMA president, Dr. Herbert Ajayi said, "More than half of the surviving firms had been classified as ailing, which poses a serious threat to the survival of the manufacturing industry in the country. Capacity utilisation in industries hovered around 30 per cent and 45 per cent on the average, with 100 per cent overhead costs.

"Political and economic factors contribute greatly to the decline in the manufacturing sectors. For instance, poor infrastructure and epileptic power supply are also key impediments to the industry. The industry as a whole operates on more than 70 per cent of energy it generates, using generators and operating these generators greatly increases the cost of manufacturing goods in Nigeria", he stated.

"Other factors include increase in the prices of petroleum products used by industries, multiple taxation, unabated smuggling and inadequate access to finance, both local and abroad", he added.

Corroborating Ajayi's views, National President, Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), Mr. Chuku Wachuku  told Peoples Daily that many companies operated  below capacity in 2012 because of unstable power supply, inadequate funds and high labour costs.

This, he said, has increased businesses' expenses, reduced productivity and hampered economic growth making many firms to shut down or relocated to neighbouring countries.

He said the manufacturing sector is facing challenges in the face of the economic crisis that has accentuated the loss of competitiveness against manufactured products from China.

The blackouts are negatively impacting the economy, which is grappling with a combination of slow growth, a weak currency, high inflation and the effect of flooding that is expected to drive up food prices.

While the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has not released its official position for 2012,  its President, Dr. Kola Jamodu, in  September 2012 said there was an increased investment as well as improved turnover for the industrial sector of the economy within the last one year. His view however drawn conflicting reactions from other stakeholders.

According to data obtained from the office of the Director-General, West African Institute of Financial and Economic Management, "In developed countries where the real sectors are thriving, manufacturing contribute as much as between 35 and 40 per cent to the GDP. For instance, in Malaysia, the manufacturing sector contributes about 45 per cent to the GDP. Our manufacturing sector must function optimally to generate more jobs if we are to realise the Vision 20:20:20 target.

According to the data,"At present, about 30million youths are unemployed in Nigeria . The economy is growing at  almost 8 per cent, but we still have rising level of poverty of about 70 per cent. The rate of unemployment stands at about 24 per cent, which is about 35 percent among the youth.  Though increasing unemployment rate is a global phenomenon, we must tackle it in Nigeria".

"The inflation rate is 12.8 per cent. So, what we are experiencing as economic growth rate is only marginal increase. Every year, government prepares the entire budget depending on income from crude oil. So, the economy is still heavily dependent on oil, while the manufacturing sector, which has the potentials to create jobs and generate more revenue, is not given the required attention. The rate of unemployment is growing faster than the growth of the economy. Increase in rural unemployment is also disturbing" the data stated.

 Small and Medium Scale enterprises (SMEs), according to experts, contribute nearly half of the nation's GDP and accounts for over 25 percent of employment in the country. Also, the recent release from the Enterprise Baseline Survey 2012 stated that there are 17 million SMEs in Nigeria , employing 32.41 million persons and making a contribution of about 46.54 per cent to the GDP.

Also, the CBN has been in the forefront of building a synergy between the financial and real sector of the economy, in order to enhance accessibility to capital for operators of SMEs in the country.

The initiative is to ensure that the operators of SMEs have access to low cost funds to boost their operations and for start-ups to enhance expansion of smaller units of businesses across the country. This will bring about long-term benefit of boosting domestic production capacity for local manufacturers, such that they are able to carry out operations with reduced cost.

In April 2009, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) created the N200 billion Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme Fund to stimulate growth in the SMEs sub-sector, with subsequent approval of N500 billion Intervention Fund in 2010 for the manufacturing industry.

According to the LCCI report, major challenges faced by the  manufacturing sector was rising cost of production due to high cost of capital and alternative source of power as well as  increasing cost of labour due to scarcity of required skills and new minimum wage legislation expansion, leading to importation of technical skills required by the industries.

The report however urge the Federal Government to ensure that SMEs and manufactures get loan at single digit and eliminate delays associated with loan processing, stressing the urgent need to responsibly check the influx of fake, imitation and sub-standard goods into the Nigerian market.

published in Peoples Daily Newspaper August 16 2012, Page 20