Ken Ukaoha, a trade and economic development law advocate, says there must be synergy between Nigeria’s industry, trade and investment policies and its development strategy to realise desired economic growth and development.
Ukaoha, who is the President, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Wednesday in Abuja, while speaking on trade policies of Nigeria at 60.
Speaking on the country’s evolved trade and foreign development strategies between the 1960s to date, Ukaoha observed a disjointed outlook between its comprehensive development strategy and policies.
According to him, government needs to look into the country’s policies; it must either be intertwined or directly linked with development strategy.
“Again, our foreign policy must also have direct linkage with our trade and investment policies. This means that our foreign policy must be driven by economic diplomacy.
“Economic policy, trade policy, how much are we gaining from these countries. What is the political economy and value addition in terms of impact, monetary and economic gains?” he asked.
In a comparative analysis, he said that policies of the 60s evolved majorly from the precolonial perspective when Nigeria was just new in formulation of policies.
“But it is also noteworthy to point out that most of the policies at that time were drafted in a way to suit colonial masters’ capacity to draw from our raw materials and assist their own industries.
“And that was part of the industrialisation strategy of our colonial masters.
“But moving from the 1960s towards 1970s, we began to see a new dimension in investment and trade and economic-related policies which helped in building investment infrastructure and majority of them are what we have till today.
“In the 70s, you could also see a lot of our commodities were exported, so the export of our commodities in the raw form started from that particular end,” he said.
Ukaoha noted that between the 70s and 80s, raw materials export reduced a bit as it saw the evolvement of many industries and factories, hence employment generation was at the peak at that period.”
The trade and investment expert said between the 1980s and the 1990s, some level of stability was observed in the sector except, when Nigeria became involved in IMF-driven Structural Adjustment Programmes.
The programmes reduced Nigeria’s growth level in terms of industrialisation, micro economic, monitory, physical and trade policies that tilted towards import orientation.
“From 2000, we now began to see some level of inconsistencies in policies, especially in trade and economic policies which did not help our economy.
“The year 2010 was another shade; at that time, we were at the peak of our democracy but then lacked some level of professionalism and astute autonomy in ensuring that we have very strong resolute policies,” he said.
He however emphasised the need to track these policies to the point that it would be well evaluated to know their value addition.
“At 60, we should learn from the mistakes we have made to propel us to the next level.” (NAN)