By Williams Anuku
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has criticized players in the Nigerian business sector, saying profit rather than patriotism was the motivating force.
The president while receiving a delegation from the Nigerian Association for Chamber of Commerce, Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI) and representatives of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) at the State House, accused many of the entrepreneurs of not playing by the rules.
He said more often than not, our markets are flooded with smuggled and counterfeit goods, a development he noted was s selfish practice, which help keep foreign factories working while closing ours.
“From medicines to electronics to food items, our potential to manufacture and create jobs locally is severely hindered by a handful of Nigerians who choose profits over patriotism.
“We have all heard stories about the dangerous and sometimes, fatal impact of fake drugs and foods on our citizens.
“We have also seen how fake electrical items have led to fires in homes and markets thereby destroying lives and properties.
“Most of these substandard and illegal items are smuggled through our land borders,” the President lamented.
Still talking tough, Buhari said everyone must play by the rules when it comes to trade and business activities that are central to Nigeria’s economic development.
He seized the forum to reiterate his administration’s commitment to ensuring that the trade and business sector continues to flourish in job creation.
“A critical success factor was the adherence to law and ethics by all stakeholders,” he warned.
President Buhari also used the occasion to inform the delegation that the decision to close Nigeria’s land borders for a limited time due to massive smuggling activities had started to yield positive results.
“After many years of diplomacy and aggressive regulatory oversight which yielded few results, we decided to close our land borders for a limited time to assess the impact of this measure.
“Within a few short weeks, we are already seeing a decline in the volumes of counterfeit smuggled goods in some of our major markets across the country.
“This validates our action as a Government when we insist that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) must not only promote free trade, but legal trade of quality made in Africa goods and services,” he said.
The Nigerian leader said his administration will continue to solicit the support of the organised private sector, both in Nigeria and across West Africa, to bring an end to the dumping of substandard items.
He urged the Association, which is a member of the National Action Committee on the implementation of the AfCFTA, to continue its ‘‘positive and patriotic contribution’’ towards achieving a free trade area that employs Africans to produce quality made in Africa products.
”We will soon finalise the National Action Committee on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Your Association is a member of this committee.
”I expect you to continue your positive and patriotic contribution to support us in achieving a free trade area that employs Africans to produce quality made in Africa products,’’ the President said.
In her remarks, Hajiya Saratu Aliyu, President FEWACCI, NACCIMA and OPS, commended the recent decision by the President to constitute a new economic team to steer the Nigerian economy on the path of sustainable growth.
On the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), she said: ”NACCIMA, FEWACCI and indeed the OPS are full of hope that a new era is on the horizon with the calibre of persons on the team which reassures us at the OPS that Government is ready to turn around the story of Nigeria.”
Aliyu also hailed significant accomplishments recorded in all sectors of the economy including but not limited to reduced corruption, foreign exchange stability, bottom of the pyramid programmes, increased ease of doing business, increased capital expenditures, among others.
The president of NACCIMA appealed for the kind intervention of President Buhari in the provision of property within Abuja for the location of FEWACCI headquarters.
She also briefed the President about the 21-point NACCIMA programme, tagged ‘‘Unleash the Giant’’, adding that the association intends to engage the Federal Government on 16 of those stated points with the goal of ensuring business growth and socioeconomic advancement through public and private sector collaboration.