Industry stakeholder and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of ABX World Nigeria, Captain John Okakpu, has advised the federal government to give amnesty to treasury looters with a proviso that they must repatriate the funds lodged in several banks overseas and invest them in aviation and other sectors of the economy.
Okakpu, said as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll on the economy, thereby threatening Nigeria’s 2020 economic outlook, the federal government should urgently consider this option to recoup funds to shore-up dwindling revenues
He stressed the need to diversify the nation’s economy and invest in other sectors, which would provide value and more disposable revenues to the underemployed and the vulnerable like agriculture, technology and others.
He wondered why government had not taken action on this before now even when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other related agencies had identified where the funds are.
He said looking at the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that the 2020 budget was designed to be funded, largely, by foreign borrowing especially for the capital projects, such resources (looted funds) are now important and critical to the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in developing the country.
“Plummeting demand for oil during the coronavirus pandemic has left traders like our dear country scrambling for ships and other alternative facilities – nobody is willing to buy presently.
“The nightmare of the crude oil and the fact that you now need to pay buyers to patronise you, tells us that oil boom is gone. Oil is trading in Canada at negative; where do we run to?
“So, if you consider different reports indicating that billions of dollars in looted funds are warehoused in foreign accounts, then, we need to find means to bring these funds back; keep them in our local banks and give them out as loans to airlines, farmers, SMEs/start-ups, manufacturers and others on a single-digit interest loan. This way, our economy will survive.
“In the face of the global slump in the price of crude oil in the international market, many economies are constantly looking for ways to diversify rather than depend on crude oil.
“For Nigeria, its economy in the past years has rather been one dimension, thus earning the sobriquet mono-economy. While many Nigerians have diversified into real sector, the agro-allied sector is however the new cash cow. At least, from every indication we have to go back to the era of agriculture in a large scale to feed and export to earn forex”, he said.
Supporting the need for an agro-based economy, Okakpu, said the federal government, as a matter of urgency should initiate policies that would stimulate the export of agricultural produce.
He said the agro sector has the potential to generate billions of dollar annually if properly harnessed.