Former Cross River State Governor, Donald Duke on Thursday in Enugu faulted Nigeria’s trade policy, saying it brings meaning to the phrase ‘jack of all trade, master of none’.
Speaking on the theme “Ending Poverty-Using What We Have To Get What We Want,” at the October 2017 edition of Big Ideas Forum of African Heritage Institution Enugu, Duke noted that regardless of whatever vision we may postulate, it would amount to nothing without will and strategy.
He recalled that Nigeria had several ambitions such as ‘housing for all by the year 2000’, ‘vision 2020, ‘vision, 20, 20, 20, all ambitious clichés, but they were all hollow in execution because neither the will exists and or the strategy for implementation befuddled.
Lamenting that Nigeria’s trade policy is devoid of strategy, he noted that at various levels-sub regional, continental or global- Nigeria’s trade as currently carried out brings meaning to a phrase jack of all trade, master of none.
According to him, it is hardly conceivable that with the existence of regional and sub regional banks, such as Ecobank, UBA, Zenith, GTB amongst others, we should be trading within and amongst West Africa in dollar denominated currency.
“Trading within the sub-region should be made in the local currency of the member state and exchanged into the appropriate local currency of the seller state via any of these regional banks.
“Unless this is provided for, the tendency to import from the western world or Asia, merchandise that is regionally available would remain high.
‘For Nigeria, in a free trade arrangement between Nigeria and South-Africa under the Nigeria-South Africa Commission, allowing South-Africa to purchase our oil and other products in rand and in return we can trade back in rand with Her, there will be a trade imbalance in favour of South-Africa. This should be balanced by encouraging or insisting on investments in selected sectors to balance receivables from countries giving South-Africa a preferred trading status” Duke said.
Duke also attacked the National Bureau for Statistics (NBS), describing statistics from the bureau as delusional
Commenting on the statistics churned out daily by NBS, he said: “Comically, the National Bureau for Statistics states the national unemployment rate at 14.2 percent. This is comical because even the uninformed knows that seven out of ten folks you met are either unemployed or under employed. Would the NBS claim that the worker on the street is employed? These are the sort of statistics we bandy about that make us look delusional.
“Another is Nigeria’s inflation rate. The same Bureau says that our national inflation rate is at 16.25 percent, which is considered too high. In other words, there is too much money in circulation. My question is, where is the money, because most folks I know do not have a dime, whilst a very few have too much” Duke said.
He regretted that the gas flared in Nigeria could be used to fuel our economic growth, catalyze productivity, increase GDP, increase employment and make goods in Nigeria globally competitive.
“It will in turn encourage agro-industry, which in turn will stimulate agric production, because it is agro processing that will encourage farmers produce more with increased demand and the collateral investments in preservation, packaging and transport” Duke said.
Also speaking, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, former CBN Governor advocated for reduction in interest rates, saying that high interest rates stifles production and retards economic growth.