By Remi Adebayo in Kaduna.
Inability by Nigeria to locally produce goods and services for its domestic needs has been described as shameful, elder statesman and industrialist, Dr. Lema Jubril has said.
Jubril stated while giving remarks as chairman of the farewell dinner, organised for exhibitors by the Kaduna Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture as part of activities rounding up this year’s Kaduna International Trade Fair in the state capital on Saturday.
Although, he absolved current leadership of blame over the economic recession described as global, Jubril blamed low domestic production as key reason behind the economic recession.
“We must realise that the economic hardship we face in this country is really international, it’s not only in Nigeria; just as Egypt has just devalued its currency for the sixth time in many months.
“We know officially we have not devalued, but everyone knows that the naira has been devalued at least 50 – 70 percent.
“This is so because we rely so much on imports and this is the problem. All these years we are not able to produce most of our requirements. Nigeria now imports almost 85 percent of all our national requirements. This is simply not good enough”.
He lamented that with enormous talents and resources that abound in the country, “it’s really a shame that we still import that much for our requirements.”
Dr. Jubril expressed displeasure that almost 92 percent of every naira spent in Nigeria finds its way abroad due to inability to produce.
He urged a rethink of the unpleasant trend and a quick strategy to reverse it.
“We must reorientate ourselves towards our self sustenance in all areas of human endeavour. We have the talents, we have the resources; why can’t we manufacture here at home and generate employment?
“We have to learn basic skills in medicine, engineering architecture. Basic things like plumbing, carpentry that will generate employment and help the socio-economic upliftment of this nation must be learnt,” he said.
In his goodwill message, Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai expressed the readiness of his government in furthering partnership with the business community to industrialise the state and make Kaduna the first investment destination in the country.
Represented by the state’s Commissioner for Commerce, Dr. Manzo Daniel Maigari, el-Rufai said the state would depend on the organised private sector to actualize its 200,000 annual job creation target, saying efforts are being put in place to seamlessly aid businesses in the state.
Sponsors of the dinner, the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, KAEDCO, speaking through its chairman, Dr. Yusuf Abubakar, said the company will keep encouraging government in its bid to strengthen small and medium scale enterprises through provision of affordable energy.
He disclosed that although consumers were expected to bear the costs of generation, transmission and distribution, it is obvious that an average consumer will not be able to afford the current tariff at the prevailing foreign exchange rates.
Abubakar said with Nigerian population growth placed at 33 percent and 55 percent unemployment, energy security to support SMEs remained a viable solution to free the nation from the emerging time bomb that may arise from the growing population of the unemployed.
He pledged that KAEDCO would do whatever within its powers to support businesses in its operational jurisdiction.