" /> Government is not serious about diversifying Nigeria's revenue base from oil | Hallmarknews
Published On: Sun, Sep 10th, 2017

Government is not serious about diversifying Nigeria’s revenue base from oil

Government is not serious about diversifying Nigeria’s revenue base from oil

Are Tola Odunuga,  a retired  Customs officer, doubles as the national  Vice President (South West) of the Hotelier Association of Nigeria and the President of the Association in Lagos State. In this interview with Olusesan Laoye, he talks about the lack of seriousness of the government in its diversification policy from oil to other sectors of the economy to generate revenue for the country. He also bears his mind on the attitude of Customs officers on vehicles and goods already smuggled into the country, saying that they have no right to seize them…

As the president of hoteliers in Lagos and member of the National Executive of th

There is no doubt  that Lagos State has witnessed a lot of developments, especially in terms of road and structures which are being constructed  year in, year out by all those who have been at the helms of affairs.  What can be called the new Lagos started from the former Governor, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and others built on what he did.

Again one cannot say that those who were before Tinubu did not do their best within the available resources at their disposals. For instance kudos should go to the octogenarian, Pa Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Sir Mobolaji Johnson, Col. Buba Marwa Late Mike Akhigbe, Raji Rasaki and others, who had ruled Lagos. In terms of development, Lagos state has been very lucky with the kind of people who came to govern.
Do you think both the State and the Federal Governments have kept to their promises of encouraging other sectors of the economy to boost revenue generation?
As far as we are concerned in our sector, I will say that the government has not kept to all the promises concerning the diversification of the revenue base from oil to other sectors that can equally fetch the country good foreign exchange.  Since this government came into power two years ago, nothing has been practically done to show that Nigeria is serious in developing tourism, which could boost hotel business nationwide.

We believe that by now the government should have taken the issue of infrastructure, especially road construction seriously, to facilitate movement of tourists who may be coming into the country. Again in some states and at the federal capital Abuja, government only concentrate on helping big hotels and those who are well connected for loans and other facilities to encourage them, while they ignore small hotels, who are actually located at the centre of the tourist attractions in the country.

No one knows why this is so, but what small and medium hotels believed is that probably,  because some of the big hotels are owned by those who have been in government before,  and have big money  to set up big hotels and as well using their  contacts in government  to get patronage and other facilities needed.
In what way then do you think government can help the small and the medium hotels that are directly in the villages and cities where there are tourist centres?
What should be done is to take the census of all the hotels in the country and identify areas where there are tourist centres, The state governments too have a lot of role to play because the data would be well coordinated by them and they as well would be in the right position to present it to the federal government and other agencies relevant to tourism. Let me confess to you that many hoteliers are not happy with the way the government is treating us.

We are totally neglected and the only time they remember that we exist is when they want to collect revenue.  They are making so much money from us, yet, they don’t care about how we succeed. Everything we do is through self-efforts and those of us who are still in operations are really struggling to survive. In fact some of us have diversified into other areas to stay afloat

What about revenue from tourism, do you think the government has done enough to attract outsiders to Nigeria to either invest, or patronize the country?

Like I said before, the governments need to do a lot to develop our tourist centres. Many now lack facilities that can encourage tourists or investors to come to the country. Honestly, it is a known fact to everybody that Nigeria has a lot of tourist centres that can fetch us good revenue but they are not well taken care of. Some of them are
even idle, unidentified, and because the atmosphere is not favourable, the idle ones not recognized cannot be introduced to investors for proper development.

You know that one cannot dabble into any investment without going to the bank for assistance. The terms of lending by the banks in the country is not friendly, in terms of the interests to be paid on the loans sourced for. This is part of the problem investors are facing.

Again the notion is that loans sourced from outside the country  are even preferable but the problem is that the duties to be paid on machinery and modern facilities that could boost the business which are not available in the country and which have to be imported is very high. To be sincere with you, the atmosphere for doing business is not right in Nigeria.

For instance, the hotels have to pay a lot to generate power to keep the business going. Power is another area killing tourism and hotel business in Nigeria and if the government is serious about its diversification policy and want to make money from hotel and tourism, all these things which I just mentioned should be well looked into. In respect of tourist centres which are idle, I will like to draw the attention of government to one called Birikisu which in Ijebu area of  Ogun State.

The tomb of the Queen of Sheba, If you ask many people they will tell you that they don’t know that something like that is there. The Ogun state government has not even care enough to develop the place. No publicity is giving to the place for people to be aware of the existence of such a thing in the remote part of Ijebuland. In fact, this is one of the things people go to Jerusalem to see. Queen Sheba was a biblical figure and we all know her role with King Solomon.

If such a thing is in Nigeria and people are not aware of it, then the government is not serious yet about improving tourism to boost the country’s economy. You see Queen Shaba died here in Nigeria, buried here in Nigeria and in Yoruba land yet people are not aware of this. Honestly it is a big shame on the country because this alone would fetch so much money for the state, the country and even the local environment where the tomb is, if the governments do everything to make it attractive for tourists to visit.
In this respect have the hoteliers derive anything from the government so far?
Well, I will say that we are enjoying security. The way security is now being provided for hotels is fantastic and we thank the government for this. It has given us rest of mind to operate. Apart from this, there is nothing else we are benefitting. You can hardly find hoodlums in hotels in the country. As for the roads, especially in Lagos, they are still under construction but as far as power is concern, there is nothing to write home about.

The last government of President Goodluck Jonathan, gave bail outs to some sectors and even the entertainment Industry; was your association considered for this gesture by the government?
We made representations to the government so that our members could get free interest loan. We have the tourism Bank to handle this but nothing has been forth coming. Even when we were fed up with the promises of government that our matter would be looked into, we made representation to the National assembly but the situation has remained the same.
Recently people in hotel business complained of being over taxed and levied, what is the situation now?
Like I said before, government only cared about the taxes from us. We are being over taxed and paying various forms of levies. For a long time, we have been calling on government to do something about the taxes and levies being collected from us.  We asked them to harmonize them so that what we pay would not amount to double or triple taxation.

Well, further on the request for the harmonization of taxes and levies that we pay, we learnt that the present Governor of Lagos state, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode has promised that all these would be harmonized and the state government is working towards this. And that we would only pay once in a year to a central pause instead of different organization or agencies of the state and local government coming at will to demand all sorts of taxes or levies, such as VAT, consumption tax, liquor license and TV/ Radio, license, among others.

They are many levies – up to 20 – and they are affecting us as well. For instance, both the federal and state governments take consumption tax from us and we had complained several times without government doing anything about it and that is why we are calling on the government to remove some of the taxes because they are affecting our business.

As a retired Customs Officer, what is your reaction to the issue of payment of duties on luxury items, imported and the imbroglio between the senate and Customs?

Let me say this rift between the senate and the present Customs boss was not necessary. Anybody who wants to use luxury things and import them to the country should be prepared to pay for the required duties on them.   What the senate did, to me, was a show of not wanting to succumb to the rule of the land. They are lawmakers and they are supposed to understand better.

What I don’t support and which I will like to condemned is for the Customs to keep harassing, people on the road for vehicles which they have been using for over three years or even more. They should stop pestering innocent people the road for the vehicles which they bought legitimately because the Customs ought to have prevented vehicles from passing through the wrong routes across the borders to the cities.

How do you think more jobs opportunities could be created in the country?
This is a big task for the government. Although government cannot provide jobs for the people hundred percent, it should be able to provide enabling environment that would encourage job creation. Right now, that is lacking and that is why, a lot of people are not encouraged to keep establishing where people could be gainfully employed. This is also discouraging small and medium entrepreneurs.

The issue of power is also part of the reasons why jobs are not available for the youths coming out of schools. Before now there were jobs everywhere but right now many companies have folded up because the atmosphere in the country is not conducive for them to operate.

It is a shame that many companies are relocating to neigbouring countries where things are normal for their operations. Many of the factories that moved out have more than 1000 workers, and by now they should have increased their capacity for workers, while more companies would have come on board. The main issue is for the government to make electricity available and you will see that many of them would come back; honestly those of us operating business in Nigeria spend a lot to generate power to keep the business going.


Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Recent posts

  • PDP in fresh crisis over chairmanship zoning, threatens 2019

    By Obinna Ezugwu The December 9 Convention of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will be the most critical in its history; it is a convention that would, to a large extent, determine its fate and course for action ahead of the much awaited February 2019 general election and may also determine its chances of returning […]

  • Why South East should ignore President Buhari

    By UCHE CHRIS   President Buhari’s last week visit to the south east on APC campaign for Anambra governorship poll and his promise to give more appointments to the region is a clear and abundant proof that he is either a bad politician or he takes the Igbo for a fool. It is sad and […]

  • GTBank doubles stock value as investors go bullish

    By OKEY ONYENWEAKU GT Bank’s share price has doubled in the last one year, leading investors to grin satisfactorily as there gambit on the stock seems to have panned out. The stock’s price has risen from N24.00 in January 2017 to N43.00 as at November 17, 2017, creating a capital gains opportunity of 79.2 per […]

  • Moody’s rating exposes poor state of banks

      .           Experts predict more recapitalization next year FELIX OLOYEDE Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country have been caught in the web of liquidity squeeze, capital adequacy challenge and the encumbrance of raising fresh funds  as Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s) downgraded their long-term local currency deposit and issuer ratings. The credit rating agency lowered […]

  • Brain drain: Doctors, nurses’ exodus cripples Nigeria’s health sector

    By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA The mass emigration of health care professionals, especially doctors, pharmacists and nurses, is on the verge of crippling the nation’s health sector, Business Hallmark findings have revealed. Though, the mass exodus of these skilled health workers abroad for greener pasture has been on unabated over the years, it has now reached an […]

  • S&P rates UBA highly, affirms ‘B/B’ credit ratings

    FELIX OLOYEDE S&P Global Ratings has given United Bank for Africa (UBA) a B/B rating based on the rating agency’s interpretation of UBA’s competitive strength in the Nigerian banking market. The agency’s latest report released on Friday showed that the bank has benefited from a strong brand franchise in the corporate and retail segments of […]

  •  Nigeria: The disquieting nuisance of elitism

    By TESLIM SHITA-BEY   At the heart of Nigeria’s social and economic dysfunction is not just the usual suspects of tribe and religion but also, and quite disturbingly, the self-preening and self-adulation of Nigeria’s elite. The failure of the educated leaders of the country to bring about a collective sense of nationhood and build a […]

  • (Across the counter) University of Ibadan banking services waiting for relief

    Banks within university environment usually have a large turnout of customers. It wasn’t any different when our across the counter team visited some banks within the University of Ibadan environment to review the quality of service being rendered. Our criteria included bank professionalism, customer care efficiency, security consciousness, corporate environment and ATM efficiency. Here is […]

  • Time is ripe for rates cut, says Rewane as inflation slows further in Oct.

    FELIX OLOYEDE This is the appropriate time for the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to cut benchmark monetary rates after inflation rate slows down for the ninth consecutive time in October, said Mr Bismarck Rewane, Managing Director, Financial Derivatives. The National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday released Consumer Price […]

  • ELAN National Lease Conference Focuses on Revamping Nigerian Economy

    FELIX OLOYEDE In furtherance of its objective of promoting the business of leasing in Nigeria, Equipment Leasing Association of Nigeria (ELAN) has concluded plans to organise the 15th Annual National Lease Conference with focus on revamping the Nigerian economy. The conference which is the biggest gathering of stakeholders in the leasing industry is expected to […]

  • Nigeria-centric restaurant, Labule, opens new outlet in Lagos

    Labule, Nigeria-centric restaurant, operated by an indigenous company, Roots Foods Limited, offering real Nigerian local delicacies in a unique environment that combines the setting of a modern quick service restaurant with that of an African setting of a local ‘buka’, has opened a new outlet on Admiralty Road in Lekki Phase 1, Lagos. The brand […]

  • Nigerian banks shine in Ghana

    By JOHNMARK UKOKO Nigerian banks have been credited with “revolutionizing “the banking sector in Ghana, due to the many innovations they brought to Ghana’s banking sector. The Ghana Deputy Minister of Trade and Investment Hon. Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah said in Lagos that the innovation and transformation of the Ghana’s banking sector is credited to the […]

  • Ajimobi moves to save Oyo APC from disintegration

    By OLUSESAN LAOYE The seeming crisis in Oyo APC has now forced the Governor of the state, Abiola Ajimobi, to begin consultations with stakeholders to convinced members on why they must come together as a body to face the 2019 general elections, Although the internal crisis is yet to break open as the aggrieved party […]

  • YolaDisCo sale stalled as no potential buyers emerge

    By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU Two years after the core investors of the Yola Electricity Distribution Company, YolaDisCo, declared a force majeure owing to their inability to operate under the reign of terror unleased by Boko Haram, the Federal Government is yet to find any investor interested in operating the utility company, it has been learnt. In […]

  • Company Analysis: Much Ado about Seplat

      By TESLIM SHITA-BEY The oil and gas sector has had a bumpy since the beginning of 2017 with local oil major, Seplat, seeing its financials whipped raw by prior year liabilities despite rising revenues over the nine months (9M). The company in the last two years has moved from being distinctively bad to singularly […]

  • How to start a photography business

    By ZUBAIR DANIE While photography could be accounted for as a full blown course in any offering institution of learning for professionalism, the field equally provides a platform for individuals whose passion it is to project images as a form of livelihood. The socio-cultural aspect of Nigerians that play host of events like: wedding, naming, […]

Visit us on Google+