2 July 2012

Nigeria: Policy Inconsistency Bane of Manufacturing Sector, Says Obasanjo

Inconsistency and lack of coordination in policy formulation by the government is one of the major reasons behind sluggish growth and development in the manufacturing sector, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has said.

Delivering a paper, "Strategies for Accelerated Development of the Manufacturing Sector: The way Forward," at the 40th Annual General Meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in Lagos, Obasanjo, stated that lack of cooperation among different stakeholders in the industry and unpatriotic attitude towards locally manufactured goods are part of the constraints to the growth of the sector, calling for ban of imported products into the country.

He hinted that during his administration, he took various steps to ban the importation of foreign products, citing the ban on importation of Cement and fruit juices as example.

He said, "There have been lack of vision and sustained mission in pursuing growth and development in the manufacturing sector. Since independence, policies, programmes and ideas of government have been lopsided. They have not been consistent. There must be coordination at all levels.

"Things must be coordinated. It is not a situation where the manufacturers are going in one way and other stakeholders are heading in an opposite direction. Vision 20:2020 will be a hopeless and unfulfilled dream without all actors working together in ensuring acceleration of growth in the manufacturing sector."

"Then there is poor attitude both from the giving and receiving end, particularly from the private sector. They see the farmers as those who are coming to reap from where they did not sow. This leads to lack of support and sustained vision. Then there is this poor mentality and quick money making syndrome among Nigerians. Manufacturing takes time; there is gestation period," he added.

He noted that governments at all level- States, local government, leadership at community level and even financial institutions- must corporate to effect changes in the system, saying that a situation where financial service providers deny budding industries credit facilities was endemic to the sector.

according to him, manufacturing has critical bedrocks on which it thrives, saying that dysfunction in one of these will affect the functionality of manufacturers. He identified those ingredients to include: agriculture, infrastructure, power, communication, transportation, finances, marketing,distribution, trading and retaining, as well as tourism.

Condemning preference for foreign products, Obasanjo said, "A situation where we give relief to imported goods and penalise the manufacturing of local goods only shows that we are de-industrialising our country. We are in the infant stage in our manufacturing life. The way you take care of infants, our infant industries must be taken care of, protected and nurtured to growth."

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