He said his administration recognises the sector as a major driver of Nigeria’s economic growth because of its immense natural resources and the entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians.
The President said this at the 44th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), with the theme “Diversifying the Nigerian Economy: the Role of Government in Manufacturing”
The President said his administration was focused on “implementing necessary policies and strategies aimed at unleashing the full potentials of manufacturing in Nigeria. We will rely heavily on your ideas and inputs at all stages of formulation and implementation of new industrial policies. For our part, we will remove bottlenecks and create a more business friendly environment.”
Buhari said the nation was indebted to manufacturers for their commitment to invest in the country despite daunting economic challenges.
“The future of the nation depends on such commitment and the collective desire to build a thriving economy. This Administration remains committed to partnering with you in the task of charting a brighter future for our nation. Government is very appreciative of your contributions in formulating national economic policies.”
The President described the event as timely, coming at a time when the nation was faced with the urgent need to diversify the economy in the light of the dwindling price of crude oil in the global market.
“As you know, the dramatic fall in crude oil and other commodity prices has had a serious negative impact on world economies, especially countries like Nigeria which depended on one commodity for its export earnings.
“This Administration is convinced that the key to our quest for economic diversification and therefore survival lies in Agriculture and the Manufacturing sector. A strong manufacturing sector will create more jobs and wealth for our people. It will usher in sustainable economic prosperity because we will produce what we consume as a nation and generate foreign exchange by exporting any surplus.”
He said that the administration’s strategic plan to boost manufacturing activities in the country was supported by the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and the National Enterprises Development Programme (NEDEP).
“We are working on improving the patronage of locally made goods, bridging the gap between skills required by industry and those provided by our educational institutions and access to finance for our Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs). We recognise that MAN and the other Organised Private Sector (OPS) groups are our key stakeholders in this journey and we will continue our engagement with you”.
“More support for small and medium scale manufacturers, since many Nigerian manufacturers are relatively small with limited capital to support their investments. Government has to develop industrial clusters with requisite infrastructure for this category of businesses. They should also have access to soft loans and research & development support.
“Boosting non-oil exports to bring in much needed foreign exchange, by ratifying and implementing the road-map recently developed the Nigerian Export Promotion Council.
“Harmonizing the role of various Government regulatory agencies so as to eliminate conflict of roles amongst them. For instance, the roles of NAFDAC and SON should be properly aligned.
“Developing the infrastructure base of the economy by actively involving the private sector through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), where viable. Particular attention should be given to transport infrastructure.
“Ensuring adequate patronage by Government and her agencies of “Made-in-Nigeria products” so as to galvanize investment in the manufacturing sector.
“Clarification by the CBN on how it intends to monitor and supervise banks to ensure that their recent directive on the allocation of 60 per cent of their transacted forex to manufacturers is complied with.
“The development of appropriate curricula for technical education and skills acquisition
“Reduce or eliminate the incidences of smuggling, adulteration and counterfeiting activities in the country. Stronger penalties should be meted out to those found culpable of these offences.
“Domicile the price of natural gas in Naira, in line with the agreement signed with manufacturers so as to avoid unnecessary conflicts. Also the benchmarking of the price of gas to the international oil price should be discontinued.
“The Gas Master Plan should be implemented to ensure adequate allocation of gas for the domestic market.
“Encourage the establishment of more Development Banks to cater for the credit needs of the industrial sector and reduce interest rate to single digit levels.”