Finally, a private-public non-profit organisation, National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN), is gearing up to tackle and if possible improve upon the challenges encountered in the nation’s business environment. The council has already saddled itself with the mandate to enhance the attractiveness of Nigeria’s economy as a place to do business in the global marketplace. That its operations are driven by the private sector is instructive just as the government assists by providing the required policy support. The Council, from its inception, is serving as a nexus for the dialogue between business, trade unions, regulatory organisations, academia, international development organisations, think tanks, media and the Nigerian Government. The outcome of this dialogue is expected to be actionable as the resultant recommendations contain implementation strategy for policies that will improve competitiveness and collective prosperity for Nigeria’s citizens.
Like most strategy-induced think tanks put in place by private sector operatives, the council initiated, from the beginning, four working groups with membership drawn from the council itself, the Nigerian private sector, international development bodies and consulting firms. The groups are essentially set up to develop recommendations and facilitate the implementation of changes designed to improve Nigeria’s competitiveness and performance in global rankings.
It is also expected to generate a National Competitiveness Report that will form a basis for the expansion of the framework and methodology used in the World Economic Forum’s – Global Competitiveness Report and the World Bank’s – Doing business report. The main ingredient in the report will serve to provide insight into the challenges aimed at improving competitiveness and assessing the regulation surrounding the ease with which businesses are able to set up and operate in Nigeria. Its activities, in the main, are built on the hope that these reports will focus the discourse around competitiveness issues and provide a platform for policy changes that will result in increased performance in that regard.
In our opinion, for this commendable effort to thrive, the Federal Government has a duty to continue to make the environment friendlier to businesses in the country. We are pleased that it has taken a vital step in the inauguration of the National Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council which we have reasons to believe possesses positive inbuilt devices that will create the chance for Nigeria to be competitive in international trade. Furthermore, we find it commendable that the government also sees the council as being able to provide opportunities and chances capable of rescuing and saving the country and giving her a breathing space to be competitive in global business and commerce. Even more is the fact that the government considers the intentions of the council as an act of patriotism because of its potentials to give the people a fair chance of being able to create livelihood for themselves, jobs and all of those things that will make for a nation of people who are happy and satisfied.
In throwing its weight behind the council and its stated objectives, the government is humble enough to admit that, generally speaking, the public sector was not known to be good in business and as such lacks the capacity to deliver on any industrialisation effort. Past attempts by government to drive industrialisation ended up in stagnation.
Before now, the private sector had played peripheral role in policy formulation merely contributing to policy implementation. But this synergy the Competitive council and the government are trying to forge will, in our opinion, give the private sector the leeway it has been clamouring for to make its contributions in the development of those policies that affect them as businesses.
For instance, the council is concerned about the nation’s industrialisation priorities and the urgency to diversify the economy. But this, in our view, will achieve the desired result if the government will meaningfully address the issues and constraints that have tended to hinder industrialisation such as power, transportation, inconsistencies in policies, challenges in land acquisition and communal violence as well as accommodate and implement the recommendations of the council when they are made available for the necessary impact to be achieved.
We are enamoured by the realisation that the council is thinking of not only the growth and expansion of existing players but are also working out modalities that will eliminate the barriers that have kept the youth from taking part in the industrial sector.
Our understanding of the council and its approach is that it is holistic just as it noted that if the system runs on the right environment where the right policies are in place, then the government will not need to intervene except in rare cases.