The Summit as an annual event brings together chief executives/top level operators from the private sector and very senior Government officials to discuss how best to develop the Nigerian economy and monitor the progress that is being made. The main focus of the Summit is the short to medium term policy direction while giving priority to the national interest in the context of the evolving global economy. Participants in the Summit are expected to apply broader national (the big picture) rather than narrow sectoral interests when discussing issues – the aim being to create an enabling environment conducive to good governance, responsible private sector investment and sustainable economic growth for the development of Nigeria and the benefit of all stakeholders.
It is interesting to reflect that a substantial proportion of the recommendations made by the NES over the past ten years have since become part of Government Policy and have been or are being implemented by the Federal Government. Unfortunately implementation has fallen short of expectation and so the impact on the economy has been less than desirable. In essence, while the concepts produced have been clearly articulated, the implementation has left much to be desired, particularly with respect to the co-ordination of all the elements in the planning process.
These shortcomings have meant that the average Nigerian has seen little meaningful benefit from the ‘sacrifices’ they have been asked to make. A concerted effort must, therefore, be made to re-examine policies and review the implementation process while continuing to pursue new reform measures in the context of Nigeria’s role in the global economy.
· Economic liberalization
· Deregulation and privatization of state enterprises
· Improving the investment climate
· Pursuing public sector reforms
· Anti-corruption and transparency
· Public/private sector partnership
While the result of advocacy is difficult to, exclusively, arrogate to any one organization or individual, since other organizations and individuals have also urged the same or similar policy initiatives, there can be little doubt that the Summit process, which the NESG has anchored, has been the most significant driver for the evolution of many of the reform initiatives that the Federal Government has largely accepted and been gradually implementing over the years. There is hardly any major reform policy that the Government has implemented over the past five to eight years or is currently in the course of implementing which cannot be traced to one Summit recommendation or the other. A few instances will suffice:
3.1 Deregulation and Sector Reform
Right from inception the summit focused on the economy to rescue it from suffocation and allow private resources to flow into potential areas of profitable investment in the economy. Summit advocacy led to positive responses in several sectors including aviation, the financial sector, communication, primary and secondary education, power, and oil and gas etc.
3.2 Investment Climate
The NES has consistently expressed concern over the country’s poor external image and has repeatedly recommended ways to improve the investment climate. These efforts led to the repeal of the Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Decree and the Exchange Control Act, 1962 and their replacement with the Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Act, 1995 and the Foreign Exchange Act, 1995 respectively, which removed restrictions on foreign investment and liberalized foreign exchange controls in the country.
3.3 Public Sector Reforms
The Summit has persistently advocated public sector reforms as critical prerequisites for a market driven economy and private sector led growth. It has strongly and consistently urged the need to combat corruption, enthrone transparency and good governance, right-size government and improve and streamline remuneration of public servants.
3.4 Vision 2010
During 1995 and 1996 the Summit successfully marketed the need for a long term vision for the country as a means of providing a unifying focus for Nigerians and a coherent blueprint for the country’s socio-economic development. The acceptance of the idea led to the establishment of the Vision 2010 committee which produced a comprehensive and well thought out economic development blueprint for the country. Although the document was subsequently jettisoned by the present Government, most of its recommendations have since found expression in today’s economic policies and reform programmes.
3.5 Private/ Public Partnership
Perhaps, by far, the most enduring contribution of the Summit to Nigeria’s development effort is the process of dialogue and collaboration between the public and private sectors and, indeed, among the various stakeholders which the NES process introduced and entrenched. This has led to the gradual reduction of mutual suspicion and mistrust and enabled the private sector to make increasing valuable contribution to formulation and evaluation of public policies and programmes to the greater benefit of the nation.
Source:Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG)