They spoke at the 25th edition of the Nigeria Economic Summit (NES25) in Abuja organised by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG).
Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor and Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II, First Bank Plc Chairman Mrs Ibukun Awosika, chairman of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) Dr. Doyin Salami, and top banker Atedo Peterside, gave tips on how to improve the economy and lift millions of people out of poverty.
Dangote flayed the paltry contributions of the manufacturing sector to the country’s GDP and advocated urgent steps to reverse the trend for the economy to make appreciable industrial growth.
According to him, the manufacturing sector currently contributes nine per cent, unlike in the Asian countries where it contributes 30 per cent. “To achieve a significant level of industrialisation and general economic growth, this trend must be reversed,” he said.
Dangote said the government must, among other things: decongest the ports, expand rail network, tackle smuggling, implement gas masterplan and entrench responsive bureaucracy.
Represented by the company’s Group Executive Director, Government and Stakeholder Relations, Ahmed Mansur, Dangote identified the private sector is key to the much-touted industrial revolution.
“Dangote is in the business of producing and distributing cement, foods etc. However, we have found ourselves engaged in power generation, road construction e.t.c as these are critical foundations for our businesses,” he added, urging the government to encourage more investments from local entrepreneurs.
Founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Atedo Peterside said there is need to quantify the annual petrol subsidy, apportion it and pay each Nigerian adult that falls below a minimum income threshold of his or her share.
He said: “This can be executed transparently by the same office for National Social Investment Programmes that currently pays monthly handouts to a lucky few out of the 90 million extremely poor Nigerians. If the Federal Government is in the habit of being seen to grant subsidies then we should focus less on getting stubborn people to shed a bad habit. It is far better to get them to replace a bad habit of wasted subsidies with a much better habit of direct payments to the poor via an instrument that the rich cannot corner or access.”
Peterside also called for the trimming of personnel overheads on account of a bloated headcount in the public sector.
“Will 98 per cent of the population continue to suffer so that less than two per cent who make up the bloated public sector can maintain their lifestyles? The same Federal Government endorsed a largely unaffordable minimum wage and presses on with “populist” subsidies which are largely cornered by the rich. Government revenues as a percentage of GDP are exceedingly low at six per cent approximately and yet, all that the private sector does is resist any attempts to increase indirect taxes or price products such as petrol and electricity on the basis of full cost recovery,” he said.