By Edidiong Ikpoto
The President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Otumba Francis Meshioye, has expressed concern that many manufacturers in the country were beginning to downsize, while others were divesting away from Nigeria. In an exclusive interview with journalists, Meshioye explained that the recent increase in the Monetary Policy Rate, coupled with the forex crisis that trailed the floating of the naira, had made life increasingly hard for manufacturers. He said: “We plead with the federal government to look at the manufacturing sector as a sector that requires special attention because the success of the manufacturing sector will boost the country’s economic growth tremendously. The economy will be boosted when manufacturers are able to produce much more goods. We will be able to spend less on importation of goods. This will relieve us of the foreign exchange that we are looking for. The real sector is suffering a lot. Companies are reducing their size. Some are divesting from Nigeria. If this continues, we will become an endangered sector.”
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria said that the current employment rate declined from 51.3 points in the last quarter of 2022 to 50.7 points in the first quarter of 2023, projecting the unemployment crisis in the real sector. In its recently released Manufacturers CEOs Confidence Index report, the association projected that employment conditions would further decline to 47.8 points in the succeeding months. The report is a quarterly research and advocacy publication of the association, which measures changes in the pulse of operators and trends in the manufacturing sector on a quarterly basis.
The report noted that employment decisions by manufacturers had been ‘so difficult’ due to the unpredictability and difficulty in the macroeconomic environment. It read partly: “The issues of acute shortage of forex and depreciation in naira value added to the cost of energy and limited supply of electricity, the speculation about the effect of redesigning the naira, the national elections and the lingering adverse effect of Russian-Ukrainian war were major concerns of manufacturers in the quarter.”