By Louis Iba
LOCAL manufacturers are seeking an end to the merger of the real sector with the Trade and Investment Ministry manned by a cabinet minister.
According to the manufacturers, the circumstances that led to the merger on the orders of former President Goodluck Jonathan was to allow a harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship between individuals and cooperate investors and foreign missions involved in industrial, trade and investment businesses have been achieved and that it was time to chart a new course.
President/CEO of Erisco Group, Chief Eric Umeofia, who spoke over the weekend, argued that it was faulty to continue to merge the industry ministry with those of trade and investment given the huge challenges facing the industrial sector.
Umeofia urged President Muhammadu Buhai to revert to the former status and name a new Industry Minister whose focus would be on how to resuscitate the many moribund industries in the country as well as ensure the establishment of new ones. The fall in the price of crude oil, Umeofia said, necessitated the emergence of vibrant industries to assist Nigeria diversify its economy.
Merging the industry in charge of the real sector with those of trade and investments won’t permit that kind of special attention required to get speedy results, Umeofia said.
He said given the recent depreciation of the naira against the dollar, the government should develop policies that will allow the flow of foreign exchange from Nigerians in the Diaspora into the establishment of new manufacturing firms in the country.
“There should be government policies that are made to favour Nigerians abroad so that they can look inward and repatriate the dollars into the manufacturing sector,” Umeofia said.
“I also propose the separation of the industry ministry from trade and investment so that more focus is given to the problems and challenges facing industries in Nigeria. We should sacrifice for a short term so that we may benefit in the long term.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must also task commercial banks to support indigenous manufacturing firms so that they can grow and be profitable and contribute to the efforts to diversify the economy,” he added.
He said manufacturers will appreciate if those appointed to replace the recently sacked Director Generals/CEOs of NAFDAC and SON were persons of high integrity with values geared to promoting the local manufacturing sector.