Beneficiaries of fuel subsidy will do everything to frustrate the Federal Government’s action if they have a clue about the government decision, Vice President Mallam Kashim Shettima declared on Tuesday saying the decision was irrevocable.
Reflecting on the federal government’s decision which end age age-long fuel subsidy regime in the country, Shettima who described fuel subsidy as a hugely loaded scam industry said government action had become inevitable in weaning it off.
The Vice President was speaking as a special guest at the 16th Annual Banking Conference of the Chattered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria ( CIBN) which kicked off on Tuesday in Abuja.
The conference is themed: ” Nigeria’s Economic Growth and Empowerment: The Role of the Financial Services Industry”.
Speaking to the decision taken by the current administration with respect to fuel subsidy removal, Shettima said that the federal government’s decision was irrevocable.
“We know the consequences of unveiling a masquerade. We know the fuel scam industry is a hugely loaded industry, and they will make every effort to undermine us. As I said earlier, the removal of fuel subsidy is irrevocable; truly we are in dire straits.
The Vice President while commending Nigeria’s banking and financial institutions for the enviable and supportive role they played in bailing out the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic era urged their partnership with the current administration in growing the economy.
” I must commend the banks for stabilizing the economy in a stormy period. The banks gave life to the economy during the challenging moment. In President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, you found a friend and ally. We must come together to enthrone economic inclusion.
“The eight-point agenda of the government is well thought out. We must do everything to save this economy. Nigeria is a sleeping giant of Africa that must be wakened from slumber “, the Vice President said.
In a keynote address, World Bank’s Country Director, Mr Shubham Chaudhuri described the bank as a partner in Nigeria’s progress whose mission is, to help Nigeria attain her potential.
He said the country had all it takes to be a giant on the international scene with the right mix of policies. According to the World Bank Country Director, in the last two decades, Nigeria’s population growth exceeded its economic growth. He said the nation was confronted with high poverty levels and human capital challenges.
Nigeria’s public spending was the lowest at 12 per cent of the GDP in crucial sectors such as basic education, and health compared to other countries with about 30 per cent of GDP. He commented current administration for the bold reforms it enthroned.
In a remark by the acting Central Bank governor Mr Folashodun Shonubi, he challenged banks to up their contribution to the GDP from 3.6 per cent to a reasonable threshold, saying,” In terms of economic contribution, we are flying below our weight”.
In a welcome remark earlier, President/ Chairman of the Council of CIBN Dr Ken Opara scored the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for embarking on reform initiatives.
He was optimistic that the reforms which include, ending petrol subsidies, unifying the exchange rate, investing in infrastructure, promoting agriculture, supporting small and medium enterprises, reducing corruption, tax system reforms, encouraging foreign investment, developing human capital, and diversifying the economy if followed through with diligent implementation and execution, we will not only unlock the full potentials of our economy but place the nation on a recovery trajectory to drive the prosperity of the continent.
CIBN president said financial services in Nigeria remained resilient and continue to play a pivotal role in transforming the economic fortunes of the country.
” Indeed, the sector remains the bedrock of a thriving economy, supplying essential funds for businesses to survive and thrive. According to the World Bank, resilient, transparent, and smooth-functioning financial services systems contribute to financial stability, job creation and poverty alleviation.
“By facilitating access to credit, nurturing financial literacy, and advocating responsible lending, we can empower entrepreneurs to generate employment opportunities and steer economic advancement. We would like to see the financial services industry deepen their support to the real sector, especially in the area of infrastructure, manufacturing etc”
“The CIBN on its part has continued to be a vanguard for capacity and skills development in the financial services industry. The core focus of the Institute under my watch as the 22nd President/Chairman of the Council has been the future and we believe that the future is Now. Emphasis has been placed on driving financial innovation and transformation; addressing industry uncertainties; trade and finance collaboration; unveiling pathways for membership growth; reengineering and rebranding the industry’s business model around Gen Z and Ethical conduct and governance”, he said.
Speaking, the Chairman, Body of Bank CEOs and Managing Director of Zenith Bank Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu called for deliberate policies in support of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for economic growth.
Onyeagwu argued that commercial banks should not be solely responsible for financing and supporting SMEs, as this would not lead to progress and development. He suggested that “development banks should also share the risk and support SMEs, as a collective effort is needed to grow these businesses”.
The Zenith Bank MD then highlighted the concerning balance of payment in Nigeria, where the country is importing more than it is exporting. He emphasized the potential of the domestic market and expressed concern over Nigeria becoming reliant on foreign manufactured goods, leading to job losses and employment promotion in other countries.
Onyeagwu lamented that Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, but it is not experiencing the highest growth rate. The World Bank data he said suggests that the population is growing faster than the economy, leading to a negative impact on living standards and contributing to poverty.
He noted that South Africa is ahead in terms of economic growth and called for a deliberate effort to improve the economy.
Onyeagwu is also worried about the stock exchange in Nigeria, suggesting that it is vulnerable to radical investors who may manipulate it. This implies a need for measures to protect the stock exchange and ensure its stability.