By Jude Atupuluazi
Oseloka Obaze speaking at the installation of the new president of Awka Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture in Awka.
The Federal Government has been advised to pay adequate attention to the role of the organized private sector as a way of revamping Nigeria’s extremely stressed economy.
Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze, a public policy expert and a frontline contender in the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State, gave this advice during the installation of the new President of Awka Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Mr. Felly-Zontal Akosa.
Obaze who described the organized private sector as the engine of any society, noted that the fiscal and economic challenges confronting Nigeria continued to dominate the attention of Nigeria’s attentive public, along with a the entrenched debate on the restructuring of the country.
To help address the problems, Obaze said the issue of recession and unemployment would abate if the organized private sector was offered the enabling environment and encouragement to operate and compete fairly in the 21st century global marketplace.
In a related development, Obaze while appearing earlier on an interactive programme, ”One-on-One” on Odenigbo FM Radio, discussed fiscal and monetary issues confronting Nigeria and decried the proposal to run the 2017 budget until June 2018.
‘I’ve heard the explanation that the 2017 budget will stop running when the 2018 budget kicks in. That’s all well and good. Yet making the 2017 budget open-ended by implication, means that the budget will stop running when the end users say so; not when the law says so,’ Obaze observed.
Obaze noted that one way the federal government could boost the operations of the organized private sector was for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to revisit its foreign exchange policy, even as he called on state governments to lend their voice to the call to end the two-tier foreign exchange policy of the CBN.
‘Since the nation’s economy slipped into recession last year, the Federal Government has been working round the clock to rejuvenate the economy. These efforts are yet to yield desired results as the nation is still visibly challenged by the trio of recession, inflation and high unemployment rate,’ Obaze noted.
He said that poor access to credit, inadequate capitalization, poor financial planning and review; poor market segmentation and/or strategy, lack of market knowledge, poor strategic vision, absence of a standard-quality programme; and underestimating the competitors were among the factors that led to the failure of SMEs.
‘I’ve seen an alarming figure of the fail rate of SMEs in Nigeria being as high as 75%. Such business failure is mind boggling. SMEs are critical in that they contribute 55% of the GDP and 65% of employment; hence where the fail rate is high, the economy, and the people in turn suffer,’ said Obaze.
He said the organized private sector had the absorptive capacity to employ more, thus allowing a public sector that was trim, efficient and nimble.
Obaze said the government should therefore formulate and implement policies that would enable the organized private sector to flourish.
Mr. Obaze is the former Secretary to the State Government of Anambra State, Nigeria from 2012 to 2015 - MD & CEO, Oseloka H. Obaze. Mr. Obaze also served as a former United Nations official, from 1991-2012, and as a former member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service, from 1982-1991.
Selonnes Consult Ltd. is a Strategic Policy, Good Governance and Management Consulting Firm, founded by Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze who served as Secretary to Anambra State Government from 2012-2015; a United Nations official from 1991-2012 and a Nigerian Foreign Service Officer from 1982-1991.