A former governor of Cross River, Donald Duke, has called on Federal Government to compel banks to reduce interest rate to the barest minimum to make credit available and affordable for small businesses.
Duke made the call at the 5th anniversary of Political Forum G50, with the theme: “Blueprint For Sustainable Economic Development” held on Saturday in Lagos.
According to Duke, Nigerian banking industry is a major obstacle to sustainable economic development because of about 25 per cent interest being charged on loans to customers.
“If you want to grow an economy, you will have to ensure that credit is available and affordable.
“In Nigeria, credit is neither available nor affordable for the average Nigerian to start up business because of the high interest rate.
“Banks should be compelled to reduce their interest rates to the barest minimum to encourage entrepreneurship in a country where the population is growing at 3.5 percent while the economy is growing under 2 per cent.
“As long as our population is growing faster than the economy is growing, we will remain in perpetual recession,” he said.
According to the former Cross River governor, Nigeria’s fortune can change for the better if the nation manages revenue gotten from its natural resources effectively.
“We spend about N1.5 trillion on subsidies, more than we spend on education, health and infrastructure.
“We subsidise fuel for cars to drive on roads that do not exist.
“Gas, which we have in abundance and flare, we sell to domestic users at international price,” Duke said.
He urged Nigerians to always seek for a peaceful change in governance through the ballot boxes.
Duke also urged government to provide conducive environment for citizens to undertake legitimate means of livelihoods.
“If we do not create an environment for people to live honestly, then they would start to live in a dishonest manner.
“If we continue the way we are, in another 30 years, we will be the third most populated country in the world and probably be the most dangerous country,” he said.
Duke said that Nigeria’s problem of leadership was self-inflicted “because we are not determined to pick the best amongst us to administer our affairs.
He added: “We allow all sorts of extraneous reasons to determine our leadership.”
He said that Nigeria needed leaders with high morals to govern its large population which countries like China and India were using to their advantage.
Earlier, Ferdinand Azi, President of Political Forum G50, said that Nigeria’s problem was not just poor leadership and bad governance, but failure of the masses in telling the leaders how they should be governed.
Azi said that the forum was a platform to discuss critical national issues of leadership and good governance in Nigeria and possibly proffer solutions on the way forward.
“With emerging trends of leadership and awareness, we can change the order; but this will take the willingness of all Nigerians including the leaders and lawmakers,” he said.
Azi said that the areas of concern that needed a change include: faulty constitution, judiciary reforms, immunity clause and Electoral Act.
“There is a serious leadership degradation over the years. Despite, the population and resources, we could not sustain the trends in sustainable economic development,” Azi said.