Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomole says President-elect Muhammadu Buhari must first tackle Nigeria’s power situation as soon as he assumes office on May 29.
“First, we must aggressively find solution to the problem of power supply,” he told Vanguard in an interview.
“I would expect the president to revisit the sharing of national assets particularly power. This DISCO that was given to people who know next to nothing so that today across the country, Nigerians are in the dark; if you do not address that, you cannot create a productive economy on the basis of generators and so you need to deal with power.
Oshiomole noted that once the power issue is solved, the government would be able to resuscitate some industries that are dead and hence create more jobs.
“Once you’ve dealt with power, then you begin to put the right incentives in place to revive and re-attract those industries that were here before that have since voted with their feet. I have in mind the textile industry. Given our population and our per capital consumption of fabrics, the textile industry can easily generate about five million jobs. There is no reason we cannot.
“When one man wears about 10 meters of Babanriga, whether in the North or in the West; with that level of consumption, you have appropriate incentives, the textile industry can produce so much and employ so many hands. These are permanent well paying jobs, this is the industry that I come from.
“You want to ask yourself, if we have these numbers of vehicles on the road, why should we be importing tyres? We don’t need to reinvent the wheels. Why did Michelin relocate? Why did Dunlop relocate? Michelin had a plant in Edo where they produced rubber. Now the rubber is processed and exported without adding value to them to produce tyres that are sent back to us. We have a huge market, what do you do to bring them back? Central to anything you are going to do is power.
“You must reorganize your Customs so that your tariff policies are enforced. You must interrogate and select Minister of Finance and Minister of Trade, who will not be granting the kind of waivers that Minister Okonjo-Iweala and the Minister of Trade have been doing where billions of Naira are lost to very dubious waivers that they have granted at the expense of the health of our economy.
“There are a couple of things you need to do, but my point is that we mustn’t indulge in what I call symbolism when we will deal with serious issues of production so that you shift the country away from what it doesn’t produce to one that consumes what it produces, from import-led to export led. These are possible. These are things that others have done and we don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
“And with our huge domestic market and a very young energetic population, there is no reason Nigeria cannot be a producing nation,” Oshiomole said.
The governor lamented that for its 16 year-rule, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) could not build a new refinery or service the existing ones.
“It remains scandalous that PDP, for 16 years, could not directly build a new refinery or service the existing, remaining refineries. And it would be nice to expose to the public how many billions of Naira that NNPC and the Minster of Petroleum Resources have spent in the name of maintaining these refineries.
“How can Nigeria continue to import kerosene and defraud the tax payers? Those are things Buhari must check immediately. Just blocking those loopholes, there will be enough to deal with some of the basic needs of the ordinary Nigerian,” Oshiomole said.