Once again the trend if his is changing. General Babangida‚Äôs resolve to turn the fate of the Nigerian economy to private hands has manifested in a new form.
Come to think of it, there could have been no better excuse for Nigeria‚Äôs chief executive to bother businessmen from Lagos to Abuja for other than to make them see what a gold mine they never thought about. To turn the development of the federal capital from a sole government business sector. The day was Monday January 11.
Although before then, a good number of business houses especially the banks had registered their presence by hiring offices here and there. Apart from that no other private development especially the real business community exists in Abuja.
At 7 pm on that day, the chief executives changed into diner suits and some flowing gowns. In the vicinity of Nicon Noga Hilton Hotel where it was held, security men kept vigil, the usual thing with presidential parties. There was lots of drinks before the real thing began.
At 8 pm the president arrived and was introduced to most of executives of most of executives whom he know by their first names.
At 8.15 pm president entered the dinning room and the national anthem was sang and then all invitees took their seats that hd been name-tagged.
At about 8.30 when food was served on the president‚Äôs table, cameramen and pressmen were excused out of the dinning room.
In a prepared text, the president had a frank talk with the top biz executives. He told them to change from their unwholesome business practices that were detriment to the economy.
The president enjoined the organised private sector represented by the chief executives to see the Abuja meeting as the equivalent of an annual general meeting in which they will review the progress made and look ahead to the next financial year as a team and together chart a course dedicated to the survival and prosperity of the Nigerian economy.
He told the body of executives that government believed that the management of the national economy is the joint responsibility of government and the private sector.
The Nigerian chief executive than took the body of businessmen down memory lane in a review of the economic conditions that necessitated the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP.
Continuing, he said that there is a need to encourage the establishment of employment, creating enterprises of small and medium scale capacity in the National Directorate of Employment.
Gen. Babangida told the body of executives that he was sure that they were one in the belief that economic policies require the cooperation of the public to succeed.
The president further told the body that since the Nigerian nation state belongs to everyone of us, the freedom, progress and well being of the Nigerian citizens is not the business of government alone. S a matter of fact, he stressed the future of Nigeria children, families and generation yet unborn depends on how well the management and the private sector sacrifice th joys and comforts of the moment for the future material and indeed spiritual prosperity of Nigeria.
The president then urged that there must be a commitment on the part of the organised private sector to create, sustain and correctly exploit the environment which can effectively cater for the needs of Nigeria.
He however deployed the unwholesome businessmen at the end of the speech, it was oh, boy how now, how do you se the talk?
Having gone round Abuja projects which many of the executives may not have had the opportunity of and having listened to the president‚Äôs speech. Many of the executives saw for themselves happenings at Abuja and the principle behind the Abuja gathering.
Many, following their reactions had a change of heart.
A chief executive who was excited after the speech said, This man Babangida, is a strategic, He has scored another point. No government has accorded the private sector this kind of recognition. It is a challenge now to the private sector. All that is left now is for the organised private sector to rise to the president‚Äôs clarion call.
According to Dr. Emmanuel Esan, a one time federal minister of health, the Abuja gathering afforded the business executives the opportunity to meet and share their ideas and experiences. It is near for a cross section of the Nigerian business community to have the opportunity to meet in a large number .
Dr. Nsan said that Abuja will turn out to become what the planners envisaged before going into it. He said that it is not easy from past experience to get people to a virgin land. It takes time. According to Chief Onwuka Kalu an industrialist, the need for Abuja is to give a neutral capital to Nigeria. The neutrality should be maintained. Certainly the capital will come out. The business community are anti-Abuja now because there is no viable commercial activities going there.