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At inception over three years ago, TERRIFIC HEADLINES assured our loyal readers that we are out to contribute our quota to the BUILDING OF A GREATER NIGERIA through this medium and its associate channels. We indicated that we operate as a NON-POLITICAL and NON-PARTISAN outfit that pays huge attention to contemporary issues, particularly good governance, leadership, forging an enduring political culture, peace, human security, and international understanding. We pointed out that we are not enemies of anybody or organization. We are patriots and co-stakeholders in the Nigeria Project. Therefore, we are committed to promoting ethical and social responsibility by adhering to rules and regulations as a responsible and responsive outfit that will not detract from commitment to meeting international standards.
Therefore, our publications have reflected writings done in good faith, and for future generations, in recognition of virtues and values that are worth reading and recording for posterity. It is our policy to give greater consideration to stories that promote development, and deemphasize soft unverified information and gossips. We knew that it might take some time for us to capture the very wide audience we targeted, given the fact that most of our publications deal with the development of Nigeria, Africa and its Diaspora. But we a glad to disclose that we have, by the grace of God, and dedication, taken remarkable strides that have made us reach all parts of the world. We preach peace and peaceful conducts. Our actions are in the public interest and we shall never detract from this objective of contributing our quota to national and global development.
WHAT IS WEALTH? World Bank Group publications define wealth and GDP as ‘’complementary indicators that provide a fuller picture of economic well-being. ‘’A country’s comprehensive wealth includes all produced capital such as factories and roads; natural capital like forests and water; human capital, which leads to earnings; and net foreign assets. Of particular importance is the development of human and natural capital. The World Bank, therefore, encourages countries of the world to invest more in their own people. Former World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim asserted that: “There cannot be sustained and reliable development if we don’t consider human capital as the largest component of the wealth of nations.”
SECRET OF THE WEALTH OF RICH NATIONS:
In his remarks at a Lecture of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome, Italy, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina asserted that: The secret of the wealth of nations is clear – rich nations process all of what they produce – whether in agriculture, minerals, oil and gas or services – while poor nations export their produce as raw materials. While demand for raw commodities is elastic, demand for processed and value-added commodities is relatively inelastic. The future of food in the world will depend on what Africa does with agriculture. I am sure you must be saying did I hear right? Yes, you did. Africa holds 65% of the uncultivated arable land left to feed 9 billion by 2050. Its’ vast savannas are the world’s largest agriculture frontier, estimated at 400 million ha. But only 10% of this is cultivated. That’s a mere 40 million hectares.
REVERSING THE TREND:
As revealed by the AfDB President in the lecture cited above, ‘’Today, Africa is spending €30 billion a year importing food. If nothing is done, that is going to reach €93.5 billion by 2030. And so, when Africa manages to feed itself, this will be important for the general market and economic stability of African countries, preservation of foreign exchange, transformation of rural areas, and creation of jobs for millions and millions of people. Therefore, agriculture must be at the centre of the economic diversification strategy and wealth creation in Africa. I believe that the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come out of the food and agriculture industry – not out of oil and gas sector – because nobody eats oil and gas. There is obviously a greater need, more than ever before, for the reorientation of all Nigerians to embrace the right values and virtues. Let us look inwards and examine those issues that could make the country move along the envisaged path of progress.
TREMENDOUS SUFFERING GLOBALLY – HUNGER IS AN INDICTMENT OF THE HUMAN RACE:
President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has asserted that: “There is tremendous suffering going on in the world. While progress is being made, we are not winning the war on global hunger. There cannot be peace in a world that is hungry. Hunger persists in regions and places going through conflicts, wars and fragility. Those who suffer the most are women and children” Adesina who believes a peaceful world will be a food secure world, pointed out that only 1% of the world’s richest own 50% of global wealth. He argued further: ‘’Nothing is more important than ensuring that we feed the world and eliminate hunger and malnutrition. ‘’Hunger is an indictment of the human race. Any economy that claims growth without feeding its people is a failed economy. Nobody has to go hungry, — white, black, pink, orange or any colour you can think about. ‘’We must reduce global income inequality. We need wealth, yes, but we need wealth for everyone, not just a few. Today, the poor are stuck and only end up eating crumbs, if any at all, that fall from the tables of the rich. This sense of exclusion and lack of equity or fairness often drives conflicts. We have an opportunity to reverse the situation through sustainable agriculture as a business, and not as an aid programme.
FOCUSING ON RURAL AREAS TO DEVELOP THE GLOBAL FOOD VALUE CHAIN:
AGRICULTURE IS NOT WORKING PROPERLY IN AFRICA
Producing raw materials is not enough. It is time for Africa to move to the top of the global food value chains, through agro-industrialization and adding value to all of what it produces. In spite of producing 75% of cocoa beans in the global market, Africa accounts for only 2% of the €85 billion global chocolate market. Other issues that demand attention are Africa’s production of a lot of cotton but all of it is exported as raw cotton fibre. And the same thing goes for coffee. African countries are in the top 10 major coffee bean producing countries in the world, but we export them abroad as coffee beans. Now taking a look at chocolate, the price of cocoa will always decline, but never the price of chocolate or any derivatives of cocoa. And the price of coffee beans may go down, but not the price people pay at Starbucks for drinking coffee. For Africa to get at the top of the value chain, Adesina advocates agricultural industrialization for Africa’s products.
Adesina argues that agriculture is not working properly and the work on hand is to ‘’get countries to understand that agriculture is not a way of life, agriculture is not a development activity, agriculture is a straight line business’’ In his analysis, he disclosed that: ‘’Africa accounts for 75% of the world’s cocoa production, with 65% of this being produced in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, but the continent is a price taker and receives only 2% of the $100 billion annual revenues from chocolates globally. The reason is because Africa exports just raw cocoa beans. This pattern is the same for other commodities in which Africa is a major producer. Africa produces 146 million tons out of the 268 million tons of cassava in the world – or 55%, 5.4 million tons of the 5.6 million tons of cowpeas globally – or 9.62 million out of the 28 million tons of millet globally – or 43% and 29 million tons of the 69 million tons of sorghum globally – or 42%.
WESTERN WORLD AS MODEL
Every so often, we refer to the Western world as model of development. We deride Africa as the poorest continent afflicted by terrible woes of poverty and squalor. But we fail to examine issues responsible for development. We see Dubai that raced past Nigeria on the road to development. We point to Singapore as a nation that has grown from the Third to the First World, within a relatively short period. What should ideally be of concern to reasonable Nigerians is how to move our nation forward. We fail woefully to highlight the human factor – Why for instance do some of us sabotage efforts of government by destroying infrastructure and engaging in obnoxious acts? Why do we do things that draw the whole of society backward? There are conflicts galore in homes, offices, and practically everywhere.
BOOSTING THE ECONOMY THROUGH THE POLICY ON NIGERIA MADE PRODUCTS
There is an urgent need for all Nigerians at home and abroad to promote Nigeria’s points of view on development, and project our cultural legacies and success stories. Happily, government has adopted the policy of ‘’Nigerians First’’, which makes it possible for Nigerian investors and our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to be accorded the Right of First Refusal in participating in economic development of the nation. Purchasing made in Nigeria goods helps to conserve the nation’s foreign reserve with the attendant advantage of moving towards a self-dependent economy, increase employment opportunities and also increase domestic production, and ultimately, the standard of living of all Nigerians. One of the commendable steps taken by the Muhammadu Buhari Administration is about boosting Nigeria’s economy through policies made in furtherance of the execution of the Presidential Executive Order dealing with utilization of local products and services with the inclusion of Nigerians in the productivity cycle and to enable them get preferential opportunities for jobs that would be created in the country.
THE RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL
At different times, TERRIFIC HEADLINES, a proponent of the MADE IN NIGERIA approach to further develop the economy has written on a number of issues adopted. Today, there is the need for greater public enlightenment at this critical period COVID-19 era in history. Mr. President has directed all Nigerian security agencies and hospitals to patronise locally textile companies for their uniforms, and has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPR) to ensure that ministries, agencies and departments comply with the directive. Additionally, government’s policy has directed other uniform services and hospitals to patronise the Nigerian Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) industries to grow the economy. It is evident that home-grown solutions have to be adopted in evolving practical solutions that can address the innumerable issues plaguing Africa today.
INVESTING IN NIGERIA & THE LOCAL MARKET TO BOOST NIGERIA MADE PRODUCTS
An investment enthusiast, Prof. Tunde Adeniran asserts that: ‘’In spite of the focus by some on the unstable operating business environment in most African countries, investors are still being drawn to the African continent. This is due to the high returns on business investments in Africa when compared to returns on investments in the developed economies. Because the African continent has not made full use of the vast human and material resources vested in it by nature, there is a huge investment vacuum to be filled by any brave and adventurous entrepreneur.’’ By all measurable standards, Nigeria is a great country that is abundantly endowed with human and material resources that could sustain high and broad-based growth and development. The most populous black nation in the world is the biggest economy in Africa, whose economy constitutes 76 per cent of the economy of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS. Nigeria also holds 30 per cent of the economy in sub-Saharan Africa, and 21 per cent of Africa’s economy.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 5 CREATES HUGE OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL CONTENTS & PROFESSIONALS
Nigeria can be greater that it is at the moment with the cooperation of the government and the governed. Some of the ingredients required, apart from good governance are the can-do-it spirit, patriotism and a collective resolve to make Nigeria great by Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora. Executive Order 5 signed by President Muhamadu Buhari creates huge opportunity for professionals and the economy. President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday 5th February 2018, signed Executive Order 5 into law to improve local content in public procurement with science, engineering and technology components. The Executive Order demonstrates the Federal government’s efforts to promote the application of science, technology and innovation within Nigeria. This is a step towards achieving the nation’s developmental goal of improving all sectors of the economy.
In the proclamation entitled ”Presidential Executive order 5 for planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts and science, engineering and technology,” the President directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies to engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design and execution of national security projects. However, in carrying out these duties, the Ministry of Interior shall ensure that all Expatriate Quota for projects, contracts and programmes are granted in line with the provisions of the Immigration Act and other relevant laws. Some of the directives in the order include;
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Ministry of Finance shall ensure that tax incentives are granted to companies with existing tools (including foundry, machine shop, forge shop, and indigenous artisans) to boost local production of their products. Also, tax incentives may be granted to Small & Medium Enterprises and foreign firms for the utilisation of local raw materials that are authenticated by the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC); Companies or firms duly registered in Nigeria, with a valid practicing license shall be lead in any consultancy services involving Joint Venture (JV) relationships and agreements, relating to Law, Engineering, ICT, Architecture, Procurement, Quantity Surveying, and so on;
MDAs shall ensure that all professionals practicing in Nigeria are duly registered with the appropriate regulatory bodies in Nigeria and shall ensure they collaborate with the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, that all foreign professional certificates are valid and registered with the relevant professional bodies before being considered for any contract award or employment in Nigeria.
NOTAP shall develop, maintain and regularly update an experts’ database. Such include expertise in science, engineering, technology and other fields. The Ministry of Interior shall take into consideration the NOTAP Data Base together with other similar data from the Nigerian Academy of Engineering; Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board; Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and other relevant Ministries; in determining the availability of local skilled manpower in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) before the grant of Expatriate Quota.
The Order goes further to set up the Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation Council (Council) headed by the President and comprising the Vice President, Ministers and Chairman of the Governor’s Forum amongst others to monitor the implementation of the Order. The President, pursuant to the authority vested in him by the constitution, ordered that all ”procuring authorities shall give preference to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts, in line with the Public Procurement Act 2007.” The Executive Order also prohibits the Ministry of Interior from giving visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria. However, the Executive Order notes that where expertise is lacking, procuring entities will give preference to foreign companies and firms with a demonstrable and verifiable plan for indigenous development, prior to the award of such contracts.
The President, pursuant to the authority vested in him by the constitution, ordered that all ”procuring authorities shall give preference to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts, in line with the Public Procurement Act 2007.” The Executive Order also prohibits the Ministry of Interior from giving visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria. However, the Executive Order notes that where expertise is lacking, procuring entities will give preference to foreign companies and firms with a demonstrable and verifiable plan for indigenous development, prior to the award of such contracts.
The Implementation of this Order is a welcome development and is bound to come with a number of implications on the economy of Nigeria. Some of them are:
•It would promote the application of local content in science, technology and innovation within Nigeria.
•It would encourage indigenous experts in diaspora to return to their home for public procurement purposes. This may result to improved standards and healthy competition in all sectors.
•Preference would be given to Nigerian companies and firms by procuring authorities in the award of contracts.
•Immigration agencies may create a special immigration class for experts in African countries to work and reside in Nigeria so as to share their knowledge with Nigerian experts. This will aid the capacity of the companies and foster inter-Africa relations.
•Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs would begin to engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design and execution of national security projects.
This is a policy in the right direction and has laid a proper foundation for an industrial, diversified and self-sustaining economy. It is a step towards a sustainable path and to a future in which wholesale importation and consumption of foreign technology is reduced. With the passing into law of this Order, and the already existing provisions in the Companies and allied matters Act 1999, Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act of 2010 regulating the expatriate quota process, a key to its effectiveness and sustenance will be the need to properly monitor and execute the letter and spirit behind the Order.(Lexology)