Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has attributed the current economic recession to the activities of militants in the Niger Delta.
Osinbajo said there was no way Nigeria would not be affected given the fact that “the nation now loses over one million barrels of crude oil on a daily basis.”
The Vice-President said this on Monday at the maiden meeting of the Presidential Quarterly Business Forum with members of the organised private sector and other stakeholders at the State House Conference Centre, Aso Villa, Abuja.
The meeting is part of the Federal Government’s effort to continually engage regularly with different segments of the Nigerian public on its economic policies and direction.
Osinbajo said, “Perhaps it is important for us to understand the nature of this recession in which we have found ourselves. In discussing this issue of recession, there is the tendency for people to generalise. A lot depends on what sort of recession and how we got here.
“If we did not have vandalism in the Niger Delta as we are currently suffering, we will not have this recession today. Moreover, in looking at the solutions, we should try to focus on the type of problem we have and what instigated it then we can begin to come up with better solutions.”
Osinbajo, who is the head of the Economic Management Team, said the Federal Government was ready to address challenges in the power sector.
He added, “We are doing a whole lot by interfacing with the private sector because we realise their role in the economy. If the Dangote refinery comes on stream, it will help us overcome some of those challenges like the sub-sea gas pipelines; it will take care of vandalism.
“But I think the more important thing is how to clean up the mess in the power sector, especially infrastructure, in the short term, we will try to bring up power to an appreciable level to help the manufacturing sector.”
The members of the organised private sector, who were present, listed 13 challenges they were facing.
Top on the list are access to finance which got 32ý per cent vote, access to foreign exchange (23 per cent), high interest rates – (18 per cent) and high energy cost (18 per cent).
Other challenges listed are: transport and infrastructural deficit (nine per cent), weak export support, inconsistent government policies, and absence of clear investment policies.
Others are ease of doing business and approval delays, low support for domestic manufacturing, customs delay and security.
The members of the private sector who took turns to list out the challenges and proffer both immediate and long term solutions, called on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to address the issues.
Also speaking, the President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce, Micheal Cole, advised the government to show consistency in its policies as investors usually reacted negatively to instability.
He lauded the Presidency for initiating the quarterly forum, saying government could measure its progress by getting regular feedback from the citizens.