The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday, expressed the readiness of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to diversify the nation’s economy against the over-dependence on oil.
Speaking in Lagos, at the 6th National Conference of the Academy For Entrepreneurial Studies (AES), with theme: “Diversification: Roadmap to Nigeria’s Economic Recovery,” Osinbajo, noted that diversification and the nation’s economic recovery captures the major challenges the Buhari administration is poised to address.
The conference was chaired by former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd.).
Vice President Osinbajo, who was represented by a Director at the Ministry of Labour & Productivity, Mrs. Maureen Ovie, however, expressed worry that agriculture and mining, which were the primary drivers of Nigeria’s economy, have been abandoned since the 70s for crude oil, adding that this now makes the country a virtual mono-product economy.
Osinbajo said: “The oil sector remains the dominant revenue carrier earner accounting for about 70 percent of Nigeria’s export earnings. However, this mono-product status is essentially predisposed to the vagaries and vulnerabilities of the global market with attendant consequences for the growth and development of the national economy.
“The country’s economy must be on a trajectory of steady growth for the aspirations of Nigerians to be fully accomplished. We must therefore strive to ensure that indicators of other sectors of the economy sustain a steady growth in order to attain our lofty ideals.”
Citing the 2015 International Monetary Fund (IMF) update on the World Economic Outlook (WEO), which says there is a shortfall of about 0.8 percent points between projected growth figures of 3.3 percent and actual of about 2.2 percent, the VP said this weak global growth performance makes it imperative for Nigeria to be restructured.
His words: “Riding on this weak global growth performance, is the decline in the price of crude oil, which deeply impacts our economy due to its heavy reliance on revenues generated from the oil and gas sector, thereby affecting consumption, savings and investments.
“We cannot continue like this. We are poised to restructuring this mono-product economic structure where a recession in any of the sectors will not drastically affect the economy. The failure of other sectors to grow is responsible for the unacceptable high rates of poverty, high unemployment rate, high import dependency, high cost of living and low levels of revenues.
“The need for prudence in the management if financial resources, integration of economic, financial and employment policies among implementing agencies and addressing critical policy gaps is paramount if we must achieve poverty reduction and subsequent acceptable standards of living for our people.”
Towards diversification of the nation’s economy, the VP, however pledged the administration’s “commitment to turning around the fortunes of our economy and redirecting the economy to create more employment for Nigerians and more earnings through ensuring that critical sectors in the diversification process are empowered.
“The various policies programmes already existing would be integrated at national and local level for optimum utilization of resources,” he assured.
Earlier, President of AES, Ausbeth Ajagu, urged government at all levels to diversify the nation’s economy by looking into other key sectors such as tourism, landscaping/gardening, revamping of coal, tin, columbine, palm oil, peanuts, cotton, rubber, wood, hides and skins, textiles, food products, footwear, chemicals, fertilizer, printing, ceramics, nollywood, entertainment, telecoms, cement among others.