In a comprehensive statement, ASIWAJU (DR.) MICHAEL OLAWALE-COLE, President/Chairman of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI), called for urgent measures to tackle Nigeria’s economic woes on its 63rd Independence Anniversary. He highlighted the nation’s struggle with high inflation, currency weakness, declining reserves, rising debt, and unemployment.
Despite these challenges, he said Nigeria’s commitment to democracy since 1999 has earned it goodwill as one of Africa’s stable democracies adding that the government’s recent policy reforms, including the removal of fuel subsidies and tax reforms, aim to reshape the nation’s growth trajectory.
“LCCI emphasized the importance of sustaining market-friendly policies for optimal growth and citizen welfare.
“The LCCI applauded the government’s 8-Point Agenda, addressing issues like food security, economic growth, inclusivity, and fighting corruption. Still, it urged a review of the minimum wage due to high inflation, volatile exchange rates, and other macroeconomic concerns.
“While Nigeria’s GDP performance has been positive in recent years, challenges such as debt crises, inflation, insecurity, and forex illiquidity pose risks.
The business environment, Olawale-Cole stressed especially in the real sector, remains a concern due to weak infrastructure and uncertain policies, hindering job creation and economic inclusion, particularly with the AfCFTA agreement in place.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) hawkish stance, increasing benchmark interest rates in response to inflationary pressures, added complexity to the situation. The foreign exchange market remains volatile, impacting the Naira’s exchange rate.On a positive note, Nigeria’s economy grew by 2.51% in the second quarter of 2023. However, he pointed out that public debt increased significantly, raising concerns.
“The statement highlighted key challenges, including poor power supply, worsening insecurity, and weak infrastructure, which hinder economic growth and investment. Renewable energy and decentralizing the national grid were proposed solutions.
In conclusion, the LCCI stressed the need for significant decisions to transform Nigeria’s economy and wished the nation a happy 63rd Independence anniversary.