The Federal Government has, again, been urged to improve the operating environment for businesses towards attracting more private sector investments into the country.
The President of the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and lndustry (LCCI), Dr. Olawale Michael Cole, made the call at the opening of the 36th edition of Lagos lnternational Trade Fair held at the Tafawa Balewa Square.
The fair organised by LCCI is hinged on the theme ‘Connecting businesses, creating values.’ Cole said the economic condition in the country was affected by climate change, COVID-19 pandemic and Russia/Ukraine war.
He said the forum provided platform for value addition to commercial businesses. Cole said: “We need to do a lot more in attracting private sector investment, fix regulatory issues impeding private sector investment. We must put our home in order for people to come to Nigeria and do business with us.”
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said since the inception of the fair 36 years ago, it has continued to show the way for others to follow. He applauded the LCCI for assisting businesses to survive.
Sanwo-olu said the theme was apt, adding that Lagos appreciated the values created by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in job creation.
He pledged to create conducive environment for businesses to grow through policies, public private participation and models that work well.
He said: “We will create a business model where everything needed would be found in the state. The state is not immune to global challenges, which affect businesses. In spite of the challenging environment, we will continue to look at what needs to be done to take the youths out of unemployment market by deploying technology and putting in place start-up funds.”
Sanwo-Olu charged business owners to take advantage of the government’ s funding supports and interventions.
Government, he said would continue to partner with LCCI and other stakeholders to make Lagos the biggest economy in sub-Saharan Africa and a mega city.
Declaring the fair open, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Minister for Trade and lnvestment, Niyi Adebayo, commended the organisers for the initiative, noting that the “forum is contributing to the Gross Domestic Product and job creation.”
He reiterated the Federal Government’s determination encourage businesses to thrive in the country through specifically designed policies and programmes.
The National President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Chief Ide Udeagbala, commended the LCCI for its consistency in organising the fair.
He noted that Nigeria was faced with many socio-political challenges hindering development. Udeagbala expressed concerns on the 2023 budget, which he noted, would plunge the nation into more borrowing and debt. He lamented the unstable exchange rates and crude oil theft in the country.
The president expressed worries that 2023 budget was not a true reflection of the economic situation as of today, adding that the Federal Government must prepare the nation for participation in African Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He commended the Federal Government on the currency redesign being embarked upon by the Central Bank of Nigeria. He called for improved vocational training in the country to prevent the total collapse of industries across the country.
The opening ceremony attracted the Olowo of Owo, Ondo State, Adewale Gbadegesin, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Akinolu represented by the Cap chiefs, representative of Governor of Ondo State, representative of Secretary to the government of the federation, past president of LCCI, Chief (Mrs.) Nike Akande representative of Olu-Ibadan, and other dignitaries.