The constitution of the Emergency Economic Team by President Buhari to tackle the problems of the Nigerian economy was initially seen as a step in the right direction. However, some months down the line and many Nigerians cannot readily say the same.
The academic juggernauts on the team seem to remain as confused as the ordinary Nigerian on the street as to measures required to save the plunging Naira, stimulate economic activity and revive the nation’s economy.
However, not Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas. He had come out earlier this year to say boldly that he would crash the exchange rate from N400/$1 that it was then to N200/$1 if consulted. Of course, he was not consulted. How would it look if all those economic ‘experts’ eventually had to go see Ubah for solutions? Since then, Ubah has kept his proverbial cat in the bag.
Now, though, Ubah, has decided to let the cat out of the bag and give suggestions on best to remedy the flailing exchange rate. He gave 2 suggestions that are shockingly too simple to comprehend, yet make a lot of sense.
First, Ubah identified the biggest forex consumer in Nigeria today as the Petroleum Product (Downstream), which is responsible for over 75 per cent of the forex that Nigeria generates. To attack that forex demand, Ubah says all that is needed are 10 modular refineries each of which should cost around $200 million dollars.
With $2billion dollars and these 10 refineries in place, the downstream petroleum sector will not need to import refined petroleum products and hence not need forex again. With that, 75% of the country’s forex demand is gone. As for their management, Ubah said that oil companies and the government should come together to make strong management teams for these refineries.
The second necessary step Ubah revealed is the need for the EFCC to ‘face their business’. According to Ubah, most rich Nigerian men are lazy and depend on waivers for their wealth. Most only access forex and move to foreign countries only to return with the same dollars without doing any meaningful business with it.
“If the EFCC can be able to look into every importer accessing dollars and what our dollars are being used for. If the EFCC can create an economic code that everybody that must access dollars should bid through the EFCC and then everybody must sign a guarantee, a bond that government can look into whatever he has bid with the money before he bids it, those that are milking Nigerian dollars will run away” Vanguard quotes Ubah as saying.
With these 2 simple but direct steps, Ubah says Nigeria’s forex problem will disappear like smoke in air. If this is say just 50% true, why have Madam Adeosun and Mr Emefiele never thought of them? Well, probably because Ubah really is not an ‘eceonomic expert’. But then, right now, Nigerians need results, not experts.