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Poor leadership, bane of Nigeria’s economy, says Promasidor MD, Chief Keith Richards
Keith Richards is the Managing Director of Promasidor Nigeria Limited. In this interview, he says Nigeria needs a focused, firm, and determined leadership for its economy to soar high. Excerpts.
Since 1993 when you came to Nigeria, your products have grown to be accepted by Nigerians. What are your secrets?
We had the opportunity to use two homegrown new technologies. One was new technology in packaging, which made production of small sachets possible; the second was the new technology in powder milk. The other thing I commended the pioneers of the company for was from the onset we were ready to grow roots and branches and we make ourselves open to questions and complaints.
Your products are relatively cheaper despite challenges in the operational environment due to lack of basic infrastructures. How are you coping with the challenges?
Every time manufacturers meet government, it is the same story: lack of infrastructure, particularly power. Lack of power does not cause damages to big companies but small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs. If you are a small company making shoes in Aba, you need light. Power is the major issue and then good roads. Also, the medical system in this country also raises concern, and education as well. This is why, as a corporate social responsibility, we see what we can do to support the community instead of relying on government to do so.
In what ways do you think Nigeria's economy can improve?
I think the government's policies are there. President Goodluck Jonathan has started well by setting up a number of committees, especially in the power sector. There are good and clear policies. There is no problem with the policies, but implementation. And what government needs to do is to be firm and direct. Just look at the subsidy removal. Everybody knows that government has lost billions of naira over the last two years on subsidy and there has been a probe panel that has unearthed and indicted the people that have been stealing the money. What the government needs to do is to implement the policies that have already been outlined in the road map to infrastructural development, but in government's thinking there will be more reactions. What the businessmen and manufacturers in Nigeria are looking up to is the implementation of these policies and then courage, determination and focus and that is all we want from the Nigerian government.
The good thing is that I am optimistic about Nigeria. Nigeria has abundant natural resources with which it can rise above other countries in Africa. I see the Nigerian market growing and see companies like Promasidor growing in the market.