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EDITORIAL: Lagos Chamber Of Commerce And A Worthy Initiative

  WITH a potentially game-changing pivotal presidential election ahead, we give kudos to the Lagos Chamber of Commerce (LCCI) and Industry for a very worthwhile and urgently needed initiative. We hope that other organs of civil society follow suit. The LCCI on Tuesday started the first in its series of interrogating the presidential candidates aspiring…”
Yusuf
September 16, 2022 6:49 am

 

WITH a potentially game-changing pivotal presidential election ahead, we give kudos to the Lagos Chamber of Commerce (LCCI) and Industry for a very worthwhile and urgently needed initiative. We hope that other organs of civil society follow suit.

The LCCI on Tuesday started the first in its series of interrogating the presidential candidates aspiring to take over from President Buhari next year on their economic positions. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was the inaugural speaker and dated in October and November have been picked up by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP). 

The development is very important because it elevates a hitherto pedestrian partisan framework into real solution finding discourses on policy options and alternatives.

Whoever takes over next must have a sober perspective about the economic position he finds himself and be very well prepared.

Preparation is key in navigating stormy weather and turbulent seas. A criticism of the PDP, the largest opposition party, is that it has not as a party with elections in the offing, positioned itself as a government – in – waiting which is what should be the norm in plural society.

The jury is still out on the presentation to the LCCI on Tuesday by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. His position, lot of it commonsensical and sensible, is worthy of consideration even of implementation, nevertheless the perennial question comes up “where is the beef?”.

Alhaji Atiku advocates “a handshake with the private sector”, this is welcome; for a future government overburdened with debt repayments must rely on the private sector, either as standalone contributors to economic growth or in creative partnerships with the public sector. 

For the private sector to rise to the occasion and indeed go the extra mile, an enabling environment must be in place. Alhaji Atiku must spell out in detail how he will induce this by giving reassurances on tackling the debilitating security situation and simultaneously making further advances on the Ease of Doing Business framework, reforming the tax system and helping to encourage both competition as well as the competitiveness and innovativeness needed for sustainable development.

The devil is in the details. As the campaign heats up, more details will be required from all the aspirants. This will be a clear pointer as to their suitability for office. 

For example, Alhaji Atiku’s proposal for a $20 billion infrastructure fund is to be supported. The country clearly needs a stimulus. The issue is how will the funds be raised and from where? It is going to be a herculean task to convince potential funders about the suitability of a mono-crop economy already burdened with high debt repayments. We need more details.

Not surprising for a contestant, Alhaji Atiku is hesitant about taking on the excruciatingly debilitating costs of the machinery in the government. Whoever will have to face dealing with the bugbears that become a strangulating albatross on any hope of an economic reboot. Same thing goes for multiple exchange rates as well as the contentious issue of even defining what a subsidy is, whether or not it exists and what is to be done. The next president, on so many fronts, can no longer postpone taking what will definitely be not very palatable decisions and the political establishment must prepare the minds of the public now as to the bumpy ride ahead.

Once again, we congratulate the LCCI for a very important program and insist that the standards of presentation must be continuously elevated as the other candidates spell out their programmes.

We are not in normal times and diligent preparation and attention to details must be expected of all the aspirants. Indeed, it is to be expected that the Chambers of Commerce everywhere offer the same format and platform at the state level to those interesting for the governorship elections.

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