Former Governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke, has urged the federal government to as a matter of urgency stabilise its currency in order to attract foreign direct investment.
This was contained in his lecture as the guest speaker at the November breakfast meeting of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), tagged: 'Foreign Direct Investment as a Catalyst for Development.'
According to him, "Beyond oil, our major interest should be the territory of Nigeria. To attract investments, we must stabilise our currency. With an interest rate of 30-25 per cent, it is hardly achievable. There is need for a single digit interest rate to attract FDI into the country. Nigerians has to think outside the box and grow at least by 15 per cent, sooner or later, if we don't grow the country as a whole, we will crowd Lagos out because it is going to be over populated."
On energy, he said the so much-talked about ease of doing business can only be achievable if sufficient energy can get to the people.
"We have gas in Nigeria and it is being flared. We need the gas, let gas be our subsidy to industry, give it free instead of flaring it. It is going to reawaken dead factories and get production going, we need to sell this country to other parts of the world. It is not just enough to say we are now re-injecting the gas, we have got to do a lot more because it is important to make Nigeria attractive for investors to come and invest here. 90 per cent of investors will require power, so we really need to look into energy," he said.
According to him, it is going to take a long way for the DISCO's and GENCO's to start delivering sufficient power, suggesting that there is need to have industrial parks and link all of them together to be able to deliver enough power.
On the issue of employment, he said Nigeria has got to get serious with the provision of jobs for its citizens as the unemployed supersedes the employed adding that, over 85 per cent of Nigerians are jobless pro to the 15 per cent that is said to be unemployed.
"It is said that 15 per cent of Nigerians are unemployed, I will say the reverse is the case, 85 per cent is actually jobless because this 85 per cent of jobless people actually live off the remaining 15 per cent of the employed" he said.
He urged Nigerians to stop calibrating the wellness of its exchange rate and judge the wellness of the economy with the level of job creation that should be created for the Nigerian citizens.
Earlier, the National President of NACC, Chief Olabintan Famutimi, said the disappointing economic performance of African countries beginning in the late 1970s up till the mid-1990s, coupled with the globalisation of activities in the world economy, which has led to a regime shift in favour of outward-looking development strategies as opposed to when developing countries imposed trade restrictions and capital controls as part of a policy of import-substitution industrialisation aimed at protecting domestic industries and conserving scarce foreign exchange reserves.
"FDI comprises not only merger and acquisition and new investment, but also reinvested earnings and loans and similar capital transfer between parent companies and their affiliates. FDI remains the most important element in the economic development programme of Nigeria."