Nigerians task government on credible elections, security, improved welfare, robust economy
‘Fear Is The New Norm For The Ordinary Citizen’
Col. Aliyu Umar Babangida (rtd) of Goldwater, in this retrospection on the security situation in Nigeria from 2017 through 2018 and now, said from an average-citizen-perspective, the trending word is “fear.”
There is indeed, trending, a sense of fear and foreboding across the land, as events unfolding in the last two years have left very few persons in doubt, that like never before, no one and nowhere is safe anymore, not even the privileged elite is safe, nor are the highest offices, echelons or edifices safe either.
We have seen public office holders, military top brass (serving and retired), law enforcement chieftains assailed and killed within the confines of their homes or on transit, not less so onslaughts on our hitherto hallowed legislative chambers and seemingly unassailable defensible spaces across the nation.
Military locations have been overrun, our hallowed legislative chambers burgled in open daylight, even raided at a point, albeit unsuccessfully.
Indeed, fear is the new norm for the ordinary citizen, as we see on a seemingly regular basis, that no one or place is safe anymore. We have seen a plethora of security-threat genres, harassment of citizens and law enforcement agencies seem to get bolder and more daring in the act by the day.
Our armed forces struggle with the situation, even as it is clear that its leadership consistently parade outworn feats as key performance indicators. A propensity to always remind citizens of how threats have been dislodged, defeated or degraded has overstayed its welcome, given simple fact that events and time have overtaken such achievements.
Feats and achievements that have actually expired, because they lacked a continuous improvement or consolidation approach to initial military successes, as it were, and for obvious reasons, are still being counted as success measures. We need to move on.
Still talking about key performance indicators, what is seen, felt, suffered or lost by the citizenry and victims of our security challenges is almost-always in disparity with official narratives from the constituted authority, as opposed to being a yardstick for gauging measures of success and performance.
In all of these, national security of Nigeria seems to be treading a full-cycle of regression, as it seems to move from “where we left” four years ago to “where we were” four years ago. We are regressing. Put another way, on a national aggregate, our sense of national secureness is so diluted from what it used to be, which need not be so.
Despite all said and done by our armed forces, a lack of commensurate will and resolve from other stakeholders and agencies across board, matched with a propensity of recurrent crime trends, has consistently eroded any claims to a national security stability as may be claimed.
What I mean to say here is that the national security of things in the Nigeria of now and today is no more about what the government says, more like it will have to be about how the citizen feels, as informed by our threat levels, internal and external. For now the feeling is fear.
Given the increasingly bolder nature, frequency and proliferation of threats that range from kidnaps to assassination, brigandage, militancy, insurgency, sectarian violence, herdsmen attacks, etc, one can only say a juxtaposition of fear and confidence persists between criminals and citizens in our nation today, where the latter lives in fear and the former thrives in confidence and boldness. Zamfara, Borno, Adamawa, Kebbi, Katsina, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue and Kaduna are trending attestations of this. Other parts of the nation are not left out, as they also have their own peculiar security threat quandaries too.
Solution to our dire situation is not as daunting as it may seem to proffer. What is required is persons of courage in these trying times of our nationhood. Courage here will not have anything to do with bravura and machismo, but more like men with the appetite to accept facts and eschew denials.
For a fact, our service chiefs, relevant ministers and advisers, as they stand, military and paramilitary, have given their best and should be released of their obligations to the nation and offices they have held thus far. A good actor leaves the stage when ovation is loudest.
Going forward, the service chiefs, ministers and advisors on appointment must write their own scripts and be held to same, stating exactly what they intend to do, with timeline, resource-requirement, performance indicators and milestone estimates statements.
While this may not be made public, the results they achieve will necessarily underscore or negate their own estimate statements. This does not seem to be the case going by the precarious nature our security levels have become of late.
From the nature and dimensions of our security challenges, any well-heeled security chieftain should be able to draw a line of sight and action trajectory over a period of time, with measured projections on possible outcomes and contingency.
Such clear statements of what needs be done will also apply to field or troop commanders, who shall also be held to account for tasks allotted them in line with driving the successes of the higher commander’s line of sight and action trajectory.
Doing this goes a long way to cutting the slack and excesses of lethargy and retroactivity away to a greater degree, while focus is brought to bear on results for resources allotted.
Those who meet their own set targets or beat set deadlines can be justifiably retained or have their tenures extended based on merit, while those who do not must give way to those who can. This way of accounting for and tracking successes must run down to the last pair of boots across all security agencies nationwide, if only to fast-track our desire to rebound and produce responsive and efficient security service delivery agencies and armed forces for Nigerians.
Ministers, security advisors, service chiefs, military and para-military must be results and not time or tenure-oriented. Therein lays the fast-track approach to recovery for our ailing nation, security wise.
We must also be mindful of the fact that arguments about the unpredictable nature of our national security challenges are indicators of failure or cluelessness, national-security-threat-levels and their ensuing resource and expenditure appetites tracked, measured and controlled, as well as the solutions and contingency for unforeseen outcomes. Our security agencies’ seeming allergy to numbers and statistics must not be encouraged.
Our legislators must also get serious about our national security posture and interrogate national security statements, estimates and projections, while holding the architects, scriptwriters and custodians of our national security deliverables to account at all levels.
While these kinds of documents and statements are largely classified and not meant for public consumption for reasons of national security, our lawmakers, particularly heads of relevant Senate and House of Representatives Committees can demand to see these statements and documents, if there is any at all.
Summarily, I dare say that insecurity and fear are a nation’s most potent bane… Those who handle our nation’s security, going forward, must know what to do and be prepared to be held accountable when it is done.
We cannot afford trial and error security handlers, as results and outcomes must be projected, pre-empted, tracked, measured and controlled. Human lives, if nothing else, depend on this.
Deficits, Debts, Budget Implementation To Mar Retard Growth This Year
A mix of deficits in this year’s budget, with the ensuing borrowings to cover revenue shortfalls, would extend the long-standing poor budget implementation record of the country into the year.
Consequently, the hugely optimistic national appropriation plan, according to economic analysts, with real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimated at 3.01 per cent and inflation rate at 9.98 per cent, would be a pipe dream at the end of this fiscal calendar.
The federal government had proposed a total of N8.833trillion budget for the year, representing 3.1 per cent decrease from the N9.12 trillion last year.
However, out of the amount, a total deficit or shortage of funds has been put at N1.86 trillion, although representing 4.8 per cent decrease from that of last year’s N1.954 trillion.
“The percentage of the deficit may increase, as most of the non-oil revenue components, going by previous experience, are likely to underperform.
“For instance, in 2017, independent revenue was projected at N807.57 billion, but only the sum of N295.29 billion came in at the end of the year. As at half-year of 2018, independent revenue had underperformed by 48.2 per cent,” said Eze Onyekpere, Lead Director of Centre for Social Justice.
Already, the major source of the revenue- the oil sector- which is to provide 53.36 per cent of the total budgeted revenue, has slipped back into price volatility, as the country is currently losing about $6 per barrel of crude oil out of the benchmark of $60.
Besides, Nigeria’s oil production benchmark at 2.3 million barrels per day has heightened the uncertainty, as it was not only too optimistic, going by a historic four-year production cycle, but worsened by the mooted quota cut by the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC).
As at September 30, the country’s total debt profile was put at N22.42trillion, with the exception of deals contracted between October and December, locally and internationally.
An economic analyst, Dr. Olalekan Obademi, told The Guardian that the current debt profile is a signal to the continuation of the norm, which the country has already been primed in the new year, given the falling crude oil price.
“It can only rise further in 2019 if the oil price volatility persists. Unless there is price rebound, as oil has continued to dictate the government fiscal performance, the country will get deep in borrowing, which would worsen the debt figure,” he said.
So far, the country’s debt service bill rose to N2.14trillion for this year, as against N2.01 trillion last year, representing a 6.3 per cent increase.
The problem here is that the provision made to service the already built up debts this year, at N2.14 trillion, is bigger that the provision made to develop the country (capital expenditure) at N2.03trillion.
With additional borrowing this year, projected at N1.86 trillion (budget deficit), it is obvious that the attendant cost of servicing would not only increase, but also take more money that would have been available for development of critical infrastructure, thereby predisposing the country to perpetual borrowing, especially with dwindling revenue stream.
In this year’s budget, the total revenue accruable to government, from oil and non-oil, is put at N6.97trillion, N196 billion less than last year’s N7.16trillion. The 2.7 per cent decrease is a tacit admittance by government that all is not well with the revenue stream.
For the Managing Director of Cowry Asset Management Limited, Johnson Chukwu, the projected revenue from crude oil, based on production and price, is a cause for worry.
“If you cannot achieve your revenue projection, it becomes difficult to carry out capital expenditure plans. We would surely overshoot our deficit projections again and as usual, we would borrow more,” he said.
Head of Research at FSDH Merchant Bank Limited, Ayodele Akinwunmi, added that the expected hike in interest rates in major advanced countries would lead to an increase in global yields and may put pressure on the naira, especially with falling crude oil prices, which may affect foreign exchange reserves.
“These may also lead to an increase in the interest rate in Nigeria because of monetary policy adjustments to reduce capital flight. Nigeria may also lose a substantial amount of its projected crude oil revenue due to a limit on crude oil production and the drop in the global crude oil price.
“This may also lead to a drop in the supply of foreign exchange into Nigeria, resulting in a possible depreciation or devaluation of the naira. Nigerian businesses should look for local alternatives, where possible, for the raw materials needed for their production process.
“They should also limit or eliminate foreign debt, particularly if they do not have foreign exchange receivables to mitigate the possible foreign exchange risk,” he advised.
Oil, Gas, Power Sector Require Serious Attention, Say Analysts
Most analysts and stakeholders in the country’s oil and gas, as well as power sectors, believe the current year could be very challenging unless urgent and proactive measures are taken.
This is more so, given the general elections due in the first quarter of the year, which started with a record low oil price, crude oil production hovering around 2.09 million barrel per day, stable Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) supply across the country, non-passage of Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and challenges around policies and lack of final investment decision necessary for the overhaul of state-own refineries.
In the power sector, while liquidity crisis remains a critical challenge throughout last year, though with improvements in transmission and generation, as well as significant focus and traction in the renewables segment.
Founder/Principal Partner of Nextier Advisory, Patrick Okigbo; PriceWaterhouseCoopers’s Associate Director, Energy, Utilities and Resources, Habeeb Jaiyeola; Executive Secretary of Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC), Dr. Joy Ogaji and Managing Partner, The Chancery Associates, Emeka Okwuosa, said since the epileptic state of the power sector resonates in the other sectors, government and stakeholders must take urgent decisions to address the challenges in the sector.
Similarly, with this year’s budget benchmarked at $60 and expected 2.2 million barrel daily production, as well as OPEC’s production cut, which would take away about 40,000, Jaiyeola said Nigeria requires aggressive push to meet up with economic targets.
Considering Nigeria’s exemption from OPEC production cut and stability in the Niger Delta, which saw oil output hit around 1.8 million barrels per day and the increase in oil price, which averaged about $60 per barrel before crashing towards the end of the year, Jaiyeola said the sector was instrumental to the country’s economic stability last year, as it equally calmed the pressure on foreign exchange.
Lauding the efforts by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in ensuring PMS was promptly supplied across the country, the PWC analyst noted that the strategies needed to be sustained this year.
Last year, President Muhammadu Buhari had turned down assent to the much-awaited PIB, expected to address issues around governance and enthrone accountability in the oil and gas sector, thereby opening up investment opportunities.
Okwuosa said something must be done on the Bill this year to ensure that desired objectives become reality in the oil sector, expressing disappointment over the inability to revamp the refineries last year, lamenting that it is costing this country humungous amount of money to refine our products.
“Government should take this issue seriously. We need to have a proper structure, pass the PIB, encourage transparency and due process and stem the tide of corruption in the oil sector,” he stated, adding that until all these are done, it would continue to be ad-hoc palliative promises without the necessary and requisite structures.
Ogaji insisted that the power sector, particularly the generation companies, last year fared as the system allowed them to, noting that the companies had enough power, but the system could not take and when taken, they were not fully paid.
His expectations this year include the need for government (policy makers and regulators) to live up to their expectations and do the needful.
He asserted further, “The power sector is the wheel upon which the economy revolves, that is, the other sectors; hence the epileptic state of the sector resonates in the other sectors.”
She urged a complete separation or removal of politics from the sector to enable it operate as a fully commercial sector, controlled by the forces of demand and supply and the ability to pay for efficient services delivered.
Okigbo recalled that there was a lot of focus and traction in the renewables segment of the power sector, as well as significant improvement in transmission, such that the problem area is now the expansion of the distribution networks.
He added: “The expectation is that once the elections are out of the way, we should see significant progress in both grid and off grid segments of the power sector. Most of the planning should be done in this lame-duck electioneering period.”
While commending the NNPC for checkmating fuel scarcity for most parts of last year, he called for the sustenance of such efforts.
‘We Will Only Continue To Grope In The Dark’
In Ondo State, some residents expressed mix feelings about what this year portends, with some analysts attributing the lack lustre performance of government at all levels to the internal crises that bedevilled the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) last year, ahead of this year’s general elections.
According to the President of Movement for the Survival of the Underprivileged (MOSUP), Mr. Dappa Maharajah, the crises slowed down the pace of development in most of the states, distracting quality governance, saying it made the year “more cumbersome for the masses.
“There is no welfarist policies for the people, in terms of education, health, social protection policies, security and accountability in governance.”
Maharajah expressed bleak hope about the year, especially the budget, urging government at all levels to prioritise the welfare of the people by initiating people-centred programmes for the state and country at large.
Outgoing Provost of Federal College of Agriculture, Akure (FECA), Dr. Samson Odedina, stressed the need to create models and mentorship among the youths who would be inspired by the success stories of others, thereby making agriculture more attractive.
A retired Commissioner of Police, Samuel Adetuyi, who is the Chairman of Association of Retired Police Officers of Nigeria (ARPON) and has been leading the national campaign for Police reforms, is skeptical of the prospects this year, saying: “For this year, nothing is going to change. We will only continue to grope in the dark, taking reactive actions all of the time. The only time we might do things differently is when we are possibly overwhelmed by any occurrence, be it criminal or any unnatural event happening. May the Lord save us.”
‘We Pray What We Went Through Last Year In Taraba Will Not Occur This Year’
National President of the Jukun Development Association of Nigeria (JDAN), Benjamin Bako, said no right-thinking persons would want the herdsmen/farmers conflict to continue this year.
Lamenting the menace of kidnapping last year, Bako said: “It is my prayer and wish that what we went through last year in Taraba State, especially in the hands of kidnappers, would not occur this year.
“So, we are pleading with the three tiers of government to fashion out plans that would checkmate these kidnappers.”
‘We Expect Free, Fair And Credible Elections This Year’
Helen Onyeze, who is a drink seller in Owerri, said: “People suffered so much last year, so it is our prayer that we shall not suffer the same way again.”
Kenneth Ajagha, a businessman, expects government to create an environment that could guarantee better access to funds and loans to expand businesses, adding: “This year, I want to see responsive federal, state and local governments that would be felt by the citizens of the country.
“There should be truly, good and friend regulatory framework of policies that would speak in volumes for us in the business world. This could cascade to other levels at the grassroots level.
“Let low interest loans be made accessible by various financial institutions. Government should pay attention to this by ensuring that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) gives such directives to the various banks.
“I also expect a situation where policies are put in place to stimulate moderate tax regime, while paying more attention to infrastructural development, among other deliverables.”
Politician cum businessman, Oliver Enwerenem, urged that the critical infrastructure and cash flow be made available into the economy and there should not be lip service by the officials of the various governments as they are expected to implement policies with adequate monitoring mechanisms in place.
He also expects free, fair and credible elections to take place this year.
“We, Nigerians want governments at various levels to understand that there is suffering in the land. What Nigerians experienced last year and even past years should not be repeated, as we expect better environment this year.
“More cash should be injected into the economy for people in various sectors to feel it; endless statements on recovery of looted funds should not be the only thing we should here. The fight against corruption should not be lopsided. Those who have been fingered to have looted should face the same law others faced. There should be no sacred cows.”
He added: “This year, we are expecting that there should be free, fair and transparent polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). There should not be any interference; accurate results should be guaranteed.
“The situation is bad in the country; Nigerians are wishing a better country this year. This is the only way we can say we have done well.”
Nigerians Hope For Credible Elections, Better Economy
In Kano State, residents look forward to credible and hitch-free general elections, improved economy and a change in security tactics to end the prevailing insurgency.
Maryam Garba Ibrahim, an executive officer with Transparency and Development Information Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, said: “Credible elections this year is the only yardstick that we shall use to justify the credibility of our democracy. The trust on this government will also be tested and until we have free general elections that will be adjured credible by the international community, we shall remain behind.”
Ibrahim also advocated a change in the security architecture of the country to nip the resurgence of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast in the bud, saying: “You can see they are coming back gain after the government said they have been defeated. If we could not achieve our target in the last few years, we have to change our tactics.
“I believe until the present serving chiefs are changed, we may not have better results. Even in life, if you set a target and you are unable to achieve it, you just have to take a new approach to it.”
She also wants a better deal in education sector, noting: “I will want the government to focus more on education system, especially in northern Nigeria. Our education system is getting from bad to worse and the only thing we can give our children is education. It is a pity to know that education is not improving.”
In the same vein, Dr. Abbati Bako, a political analyst said: “First and foremost, our expectation is hope in the present government to conduct credible elections, because we believe in the credibility of the present administration to tackle the bad and ugly situation in the country.”
On the economy, he said: “Government should do more on the economy, because we have seen the rise in inflation rate and low industrial production. Although we have seen a lot being achieved in the area of power, but more needs to be done.”
Chairman of the state chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Kabiru Ado Mingibir, advocated better and conducive working environment for workers, lamenting harsh working conditions last year and the protracted disagreement over a new minimum wages.
“The country witnessed so many economic challenges, including recession, last year and we pray that the economy stabilises and continues to grow.”
‘Government Should Avert A Total Collapse Of Education’
The president of Ebira Peoples Association (EPA), Mohammed Alabi Ibrahim, hoped that the experiences of last year do not recur this year, saying it was a difficult year for Nigerians, because the high cost of living, as many did not have enough money to pay the school fees of their children and other commitments.
He does not expect much because of the falling price of crude oil in the international market, fearing that if care was not taken, budget implementation would be a very herculean task. He charged government to find other sources of revenue, including going after tax evaders.
Recalling incessant strikes in the education sector last year, Ibrahim tasked government to do the needful to avert a total collapse of education this year.
On security, he equivocally said the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai should go, saying he has been overwhelmed by security situation in the country.
“Every now and then, you hear that our soldiers have been killed by Boko Haram. Even in Plateau State, soldiers are being killed during crises, signifying that the militants were more armed than our solders. This is bad,” he said.
‘I Hope Government-ASUU Discussion Would Be Fruitful’
Chairman of University of Calabar chapter of ASUU, Dr. Tony Eyang, said: “My expectation is that government and the people will get serious with all that is needed for us to position our economy, stabilise our polity and develop our education, upon which the foundation of our future depends.
“I expect that government will realise the importance to do this to galvanise this through policies and programmes that are people-oriented.
“As a year of general elections and considering the need to do our best possible to have a peaceful transition, I hope that the government-ASUU discussion would be very fruitful towards ending or resolving the issues in a way that we are not going to have so much labour unrest as we have had in the last couple of years.”
‘Declining Global Oil Price Will Distort Economic Projections’
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said the economy would remain fragile, with the high dependence on the oil sector for revenue and foreign exchange earnings.
In its review of last year and outlook for this year, LCCI noted that though oil revenues increased with recovering oil prices last year, the impact on the economy was subdued by the huge foreign exchange commitments to petroleum product importations and the inherent subsidy.
LCCI’s Director General, Muda Yusuf, said data from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) showed that oil prices are trending down below the 2019-2021 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and this year’s budget benchmark and would likely distort federal government’s economic projections and impact adversely on its MTEF if the trend is not reversed, with fears that the sharp fall in oil prices, if sustained, could lead to new pressures on the naira exchange rate.
Concerns are also being expressed about the sustainability of current frequency CBN’s interventions to stabilise the market; hence some measure of rate adjustment may become inevitable, as the improvement in liquidity and relative stability in forex market witnessed by businesses last year may be threatened if fall in oil price continues, with profound impact on the prices of imported goods and services, leading to a rise in the level of inflation and possible adverse effect on the fiscal operations of government and further escalation of the deficit in the budget.
The LCCI boss noted that despite the high debt service obligations, which also constrained the growth of the economy last year, and with the limited progress in efforts to diversify government revenue sources, the performance of the oil and gas sector would remain a critical determinant of the economic outlook this year.
“Given the challenging economic conditions, key policy reforms would be imperative to support and sustain macro-economic stability, including a foreign exchange management framework that reflects the market fundamentals, acceleration of the economic diversification agenda, normalisation of Lagos ports environment, oil and gas sector reform, reduction in the cost of governance at all levels, improvements in the domestic revenue to reduce volatilities of government revenues, among others.”
We Want Increased Budgetary Allocation To Health, Says NMA President
President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Associate Professor/Consultant Pathologist, Department of Pathology and Forensic Medicine, Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASCOM)/Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Lagos, Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, said: “Our agenda for this year includes increase budgetary allocation to meet 15 per cent of the total budget; universal health coverage for all Nigerians; improved work environment in our hospitals and upgrade of the infrastructure to meet international standards to reverse medical tourism.
“Immunisation, particularly, strengthening polio virus immunisation, surveillance and monitoring before the anticipated declaration of Nigeria free of polio virus in August this year, strengthening of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), state health insurance and community insurance scheme to ensure qualitative services delivery; promotion of industrial harmony in the sector; improved welfare conditions of all health workers in Nigeria; ensuring that the one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund in last year’s budget already released is properly utilised for improved funding of primary healthcare in Nigeria, as mandated by the National Health Act 2014; capture more Nigerians and put strategies in place to curtail the emergence and re-emergence of viral haemorrhagic diseases and epidemic diseases in Nigeria, among others.”
Voters To Come Out En Mass And Vote Wisely, Says TMG
Chairman of Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Dr. Abiola Afolabi-Akiyode, while recalling the sex-for-marks scandal in the education sector looks forward to safer learning environment for young girls and boys, young women and men by protecting them with policies and laws.
“The passage of Appropriation Bill in Nigeria took longer than necessary last year, but we hope the country will not suffer same fate this year, as failure to pass the Bill on time has serious effect on the lives of the people, the ease of doing business and fiscal planning that could benefit the mass of the people.
“As an election year, we hope the elections would be free and fair, that Nigerians will commit to mandate protection and ensure the election is free from violence, as having a credible election is key to furthering democratic processes in the country.
“We encourage Nigerian voters to come out en mass to vote and vote without any form of inducement and vote for the best candidates.”
A lecturer of Comparative Literature, National Open University, Abuja, Prof. Onyeka Iwuchukwu, was sad that most students of higher institutions have been at home since November last year, as a result of one strike or another in the sector.
“The federal government should keep up to its promises. This is not the first time the ASUU strike is coming up and also not particular with this administration. I also ask state governments to realise that teachers are moulders of professionals. They should realise that without teachers, there is no society and these politicians themselves passed through teachers to get to where they are. Most of these politicians have their children studying abroad, while some of them open universities, where children of the poor cannot attend. This is so unfortunate.
“I expect respect for teachers and more attention to the education sector, not using it as a political campaign, while those in charge as principals, class teachers should use their positions judiciously. We see people in the senate who have no business there and tomorrow, you find them fighting or laying siege for the senate president.
“Generally, we need value change in every sector, which should start right from the family. You cannot give what you don’t have. We all share the blame here and as moulders of the future, we should do whatever we do with all our heart.
“I look forward to a government that respects teachers and what they represent to society.”
‘We Must Address The Issue Of Pervasive Poverty’
The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), through its National President Iyalode Alaba Lawson, said while the economy is slowly recovering from recession, so much still needs to be done to prevent the country from slipping into another recession.
She urged speedy attention to the increasing insecurity and violence threatening businesses and investments, adding: “The situation of things must change, as businesses cannot thrive in the midst of prolonged and elevated insecurity. The rather weak economic performance in certain sectors in some geo-political zones is directly linked to insecurity arising from various sources and government must take action to address the various sources of insecurity.
“This year, we must tackle infrastructure deficit, especially in the areas of electricity, water and waste disposal. Significant progress in these areas are needed to remove current constrains on industrial and agricultural production.
“Also, we must address the issue of pervasive poverty, which stares us all in the face.
“While we welcome the stability of the exchange rate at the official and parallel market, it is more desirable to collapse the multiple rate into one to boost investors confidence and remove uncertainty.
“We urge government to step up efforts in promoting agriculture to ensure food security and promote import substitution, as well as improve infrastructure, such as power, roads and rails, and ease of doing business, as these will bring about positive change in the manufacturing sector.
“To improve the performance of the agriculture sector, more is required in the areas of research, financing for farmers, infrastructure, technology, logistics, quality and standard management.”
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