In Our Best Interest: Open Letter To President Muhammadu Buhari– Engr. Dideolu Falobi 

By Ikenga Chronicles May 12, 2016

In Our Best Interest: Open Letter To President Muhammadu Buhari– Engr. Dideolu Falobi 

Dear President Buhari,

Earlier in the year I wrote a letter to you, and sent it to Babatunde Fashola, but got no acknowledgement. I then sent it by courier to “The President through the office of the Secretary to The President”. To date, I have not received any response.

I guess one has to be a Dele Momodu or an OBJ for your letter to count.

I am therefore putting the letter in the open today in the hope that those who agree with my opinion will continue to share it till it reaches you..

Your Excellency,

I will be very brief because I am aware of the pressure of your various engagements and competing priorities.

The thrust of my message is that there are limitations to the current strategy being pursued by the government to address our urgent economic situation when there are some other very practical alternatives.

Kindly spare the time to go through my submission.

The objective of this letter is simply to  share my ideas on how to quickly make the difference in governance– a sort of shortcut. You will agree with me that the uncertain state of our national currency, its weakening in the global market and the resulting impact on our overall economy is one of our major challenges as a nation.

As it stands, your government is currently employing the following strategy;

  • To raise funds from taxes and duties.
  • To control demand on FOREX thereby conserving the reserves.
  • To reduce appetite for goods manufactured abroad.
  • To stimulate growth in Industrialisation and Agriculture.
  • To recover stolen funds and re-invest in the economy.

However, there are limitations to the strategy being employed, viz:

  • Taxes & Duties will only raise Naira not Dollars.
  • Control of FOREX supply is putting pressure on the exchange rate leading to a crash in the value of the Naira.
  • Reduction of appetite for goods manufacture abroad is good but can only be achieved if we are able to create local alternatives quickly. Otherwise smuggling will thrive.
  • Stimulation of growth in industrialisation is of course the best but we need FOREX to buy machineries and pay expatriates as the case may be.

We are thus in a vicious cycle. The cost of finance & power and the labourious process of accessing finance remains a drawback to attempts to quickly create alternatives to imported goods.

MY PROPOSAL

We can only break this cycle by generating FOREX quickly and through a shortcut as soon as possible. Some of the key things you need to first take note of are;

  1. There is a need to declare a state of emergency in our economy with authority for Mr. President to do the needful.
  2. Agriculture is the fastest and cheapest route to earning foreign exchange.
  3. There are a lot of companies operating at less than full capacity or not operating at all.
  4. Gas is the new oil and remains in demand, we have too much and it can be self-financing.
  5. Most of the demand for FOREX is for items that are not critical.
  6. There is nothing wrong with government investing in business in emergencies such as this even though it may be on a short-term basis.

The government should therefore quickly do the following;

  1. Enumerate all farms with capacity for export, identify their financial needs and seek to invest state funds in them as equity with a view to improving existing capacity and generating FOREX. The target is to meet local needs and export.
  2. Enumerate existing industries and invest funds in them with a view to helping them to produce to full capacity and augment local production and export.
  3. Identify major FOREX-gulping sections and invest directly in their production in partnership with core investors.
  4. Identify a list of industries that can also add value to Agricultural yields and other major raw materials that are available locally and lead in investment in them.
  5. All such investments as listed above should be put up for sale after 3 years with the original owners given the option of first refusal in case of partnership with existing ventures and farms.
  6. In case of green ventures, such disinvestment should take place on the floor of the stock exchange.

The Importance of Gas

Gas is the new oil.

An intensely brilliant and honest (as far as I know) classmate of mine, Dr. David Ige was leading the gas revolution. He has done so much there and he should be brought back after a thorough review of his capacity and extent of work done so far. He is honest and very knowledgeable on gas. I advise you to allow him to complete his works on gas (By the way, he is not aware of this letter).

I believe that the very expensive GAS gathering projects should be funded through advance sales at no financial interest to the stakeholders.

In other words, we should seek to sell gas well in advance of production and the revenue so generated should be partly used to build the gas gathering plants and partly used to fund major infrastructures such as Rails, Roads, Waterways, Dams and Expansion of Power Transmission Network.

I recommend also that  Tolls and Tariff should be introduced on all government roads so that funds invested in roads and other critical infrastructure can be recycled.

Your Excellency I really hope you are able to read through my proposal. Be informed that you can use it as you deem fit.

Best wishes.

Engr. Dideolu Falobi, FNSE, MIoD

 

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