Group Managing Director, CFL Group, Lai Omotola has said 2021 will be a more difficult year than 2020.
He said this would be so because 2020 has set a foundation for 2021, as COVID-19 might not end next year.
“The economy will not recover to blossom level, insecurity is a major factor. I have not been able to see anything in government to suggest the availability of resources to meet these coming challenges,” Omotola said during an end of year briefing in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
He said 2020 had been a tough year all through in view of the spread of COVID-19 that made nonsense of the global strength leaving devastating effect.
“This year we have seen how feeble and vulnerable the world can be. In the case of Nigeria, we have managed to survive with our low COVID-19 numbers when compared to America and Europe. This year has seen businesses shut more than ever. Also, there has been massive jobs lost and infrastructure decade.
“Businesses face unprecedented challenges from January to December 2020. From COVID-19 lockdown to EndSARS to traffic gridlock that keep you in traffic for 5 to 6 hours in Lagos State. All these have had multiplier effects on the productivity of businesses in Nigeria,” he said.
Omotola said in 2020, his company continued with its commercial and residential construction with five new Plazas and six residential estates across Lagos State.
He explained that to stay in business, his organisation became innovative and adapted digital platforms as ways of reaching customers and carrying them along, as well as introduced price friendly products, but said 2020 had recorded lower profitability compared to other years.
“The business environment continues to be harsh as government continues jack-up prices like VAT, Petrol, electricity and other charges from Lagos State agencies. Both governments; State level and National Level introduce
palliatives; but the palliatives have not been able to produce the desired results. The prices of food items
have been on the rise like never before despite huge investment in agriculture.
“Security has deteriorated and reaching an alarming rate. The infrastructure remains the same with bad roads all across the nation. The Lagos-Ibadan express road is yet to be completed despite huge funds that have been sunk into it. Second Niger bridge is work in progress.
“The rail development is on the increase as Lagos to Ibadan commenced operation, however, we see rail development from Niger Republic to Nigeria is not commercially viable and waste of resources. The state of the economy is at the lowest ebb with bad foreign exchange naira to a dollar is N480 and pounds to Naira is N630. Inflation is double digit of 13.4%.
“Nigeria has entered into second recession in 5 years. The economy is seriously bleeding and the government knows this fact considering the recent opening of the borders; but I wonder what government have gained,” he lamented.
According to Omotola, government at all levels had not been able to show the people that they are capable in confronting the daunting challenges of present and of the future, saying that the current government had been
reactive more than being proactive.
He said the opposition continued to agitate for the restructuring of the country to regional basis but that the historical antecedent had it that “we are more attracted to terminologies and execution. For example, in the 50s, what the leaders wanted was independence from the colonial masters to pave way for a prosperous Nigeria without verifying if our various institutions were well established.
“Again, during the military era, the statement “return to democracy” was the order of the day, and now 21 years of
democracy we can comfortably say how we have fared. The truth is that Nigeria is a structured country that will continually need restructuring through established organs like the national assembly; so, to do otherwise is a political mutiny.”
Omotola stated that in 2021, the CFL Group planned to do big projects in the midst of lack, saying that in the in the first quarter of 2021, the group wouldl be commissioning its app to be known as LONGUDU.
“This will be the first mobile cinema in Nigeria to rival Netflix and also have features to rival Instagram and YouTube. We shall also start our Agricultural project known as Imota Farm Estate on 100 hectares of Land at imota, Ikorodu and thirdly; ISU industrial City on 1,000 hectares of Land at ISIU, Ikorodu, Lagos,” he revealed.