Panelists at the 65th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA) have called for efforts to sustain economic diversification and inclusion growth programmes in order to promote agriculture, manufacturing and tradable services.
The panelists also noted the need for fiscal policies in the country to be strengthened to promote economic growth.
Speaking at the first plenary session of the conference on Monday in Abuja, Mr Adetilewa Adebajo, Chief Executive Officer, CFG Advisory said that Nigeria’s economy was losing value and making life difficult for many Nigerians.
For Mr Allen Onyema, the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Limited, getting the economy right, and decoding Nigeria’s strategy for growth, diversification, inclusivity and sustainability was not negotiable.
The panelists agreed that the oil sector provided 95 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings and 80 per cent of its budgetary revenues.
They also agreed that the economic potential of the country was constrained by many structural issues, including non-diversification of the economy.
Speaking at one of the break-out sessions of the conference, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, said it was essential for the NBA to monitor the Federal Government to ensure that the Port Harcourt refinery was fixed.
“The Port Harcourt branch of the NBA must monitor the work at the refinery because N1.5 billion has been earmarked to fix it.
“Also the Kaduna refinery, N1.4 billion has been earmarked for it and also imports from China.
“We have just been told, and I will make the letter the Central Bank has written available to the NBA, that Nigerians transacting business in China can pay in naira,’’ Falana said.
According to him, this will save and strengthen the naira and the rush for dollar will stop.
Falana added that the CBN continued to maintain that the nation’s foreign reserve was 38 billion dollars while JIB said it was 3.7 billion dollars.
“JIB has given reasons why our foreign reserve has gone down so it behooves on the NBA to call on the federal government to give us a true picture of our foreign reserves.’’
Falana commended the Kwara government for ensuring gender inclusivity by appointing 50 per cent of both men and women as commissioners.
He said that by virtue of Section 16 of the CBN Act, there was no room for market forces to fix the exchange rate of the naira.
“It is the responsibility of the CBN to determine and fix the exchange rate of the naira vis a vis other currencies,’’ Falana said.
Presenting a paper entitled, ‘’Prioritising Infrastructure Development in the National Agenda,’’ Mr Michael Ohiani, Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, (ICRC) said the government had set in place machinery to ensure food security.
“The Federal Government has concessioned 33 silos in some states across the country to improve food security and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign markets especially grains.’’
Ohiani said that transparency and accountability would enhance infrastructure development in the country.
Contributing to the discussion virtually, Mr Wolemi Esan, a specialist in laws on infrastructure, said that infrastructure development was a key driver for progress and a critical enabler for productivity and sustainable economic growth.
Esan added that the development of infrastructure was vital for the growth of Nigeria’s overall economy, adding that funding was key and that the right measures must be put in place to attract necessary funding.
He identified the private sector as one of the key possible financiers of infrastructure in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that President Bola Tinubu declared the 65th conference of the NBA open on Sunday and said, ‘’tough decisions need to be taken in order to get the economy right.’’