Abuja Chamber of Commerce & Industry, ABUCCI, has charged the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to give priority attention to some critical areas like the private sector and the national economy in general with a view to meeting some of the people’s expectations.
The chamber, which prides itself as the voice of the private sector in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, while congratulating the new administration, particularly wanted Buhari to tackle the acute shortage of power in the country.
In a statement by its Vice President, Media, Barrister Jude Igwe, ABUCCI noted that “power in Nigeria is the number one area that affects and puts unbearable pressure on all other aspects of the economy including the demands on the petroleum sector.
“The issue of provision of adequate power for the nation must be urgently addressed so as to bring back to life a lot of industrial and manufacturing concerns that have gone comatose as a result of unsustainable costs of running their operations on generators.
“The consequences of this, are staring us in the face – low productivity, retrenchment of workers, none employment of job seekers, lack of consumer goods locally and pressure to import finished goods to sustain local demands and general down-turn in the economy,” the chamber explained.
On privatisation, which ABUCCI pointed out has been done already by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, but “which has not moved the power situation any inch up,” it urged the Buhari administration to review the situation in the sector with a view to improving it.
According to the chamber, “the new administration must do an urgent review session with the stakeholders where they would be honest enough to tell the administration the real factors that have made it impossible for them to provide power to Nigerians so that a quick fix solution can be explored to arrest a total collapse of the entire economy.”
The chamber also stated that the petroleum sector is another critical area where “very ugly developments” had taken place in the recent past and which the new administration must address urgently in order to move the nation’s economy forward.
“As stated before, we believe that the high demands on the petroleum sector are partly brought about by the low performance in the power sector. A situation where the greater percentage of power consumption in Nigeria on a daily basis is generated by burning premium motor spirit and diesel meant ordinarily for motor running, is alarming.
“It therefore means that while the government is working on the power issue, it has no option than to leave open the only source of breathe for both domestic and economic lives of Nigerians otherwise, there will be a total shot down as we have experienced in recent days,” ABUCCI stressed.
Consequently, it however said the issue of total deregulation of the oil sector must present a delicate balance to the administration.
The chamber pointed out that the massive corruption implicit in the subsidy regime has made a lot of well meaning Nigerians to call for its scrapping even at a time when the country had no functional refineries.
It affirmed that the obvious effect of this, is the high prices of imported petroleum products with the resultant high cost of goods and services.
The chamber therefore urge the government to empower a prudently supervised Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to use the people’s money to import a greater percentage of the petroleum required by the nation and sell to the people without profiteering.
This, it noted would check the excesses of the cartel in the industry who would be compelled by market forces under a deregulated situation to sell to whoever needs their products.
“While this interim measure is going on, an accelerated rehabilitation of the existing refineries should be done so as to reduce and if possible, eliminate importation and its excessive costs”, it added.
Another area of importance mentioned by the chamber is the Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, which it revealed represent about 85 per cent of the economy and which have been globally acknowledged as the engine of growth of any economy, including Nigeria.
The chamber, while informing that movements all over the world are mostly populated by SMEs group, it expressed appreciation to the Jonathan government for the provision of N220billion SME fund domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN “which has remained largely undisbursed to beneficiaries due to conditions that are impossible for most SMEs”.
“We urge the new government to urgently intervene and review these conditions and come up with terms that would make it easy for the SMEs to access this fund and produce the necessary growth in the economy which is the target for setting up the fund.
“The wellbeing of SMEs is so critical in any economy that desires growth, generation of employment and production of consumer goods that it should not be ignored for a moment.
“Government should therefore endeavour to provide the enabling environment for SMEs to thrive and this should include right fiscal policies (provision of funds and elimination of multiple taxation) and provision of the necessary infrastructure”, the chamber stated.

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