Saturday, February 6, 2016 5:23 pm
The need to diversify Nigeria’s economy by tapping into other more productive, but currently neglected areas, has been stressed by business experts and seasoned enterprenuers in the country.
A public lecture, held recently at the Lagos City Mall, Marina, entitled: Nigeria Beyond Oil: the Urgent Need for Agricultural and Industrial revolution” organised by a magazine, Hall of Grace, which has Chief Alex Akinyele and Mr. Rupert Ojenuwa as its chairman and Managing Director (MD) respectively, featured seasoned enterprenuers and business experts who are genuinely concerned about the Nigerian project and who dissected the topic, illuminating on ways the country could easily tap into her vast human and material resources to survive the dwindling oil revenue resulting from falling prices of crude oil across the globe.
The resource persons at the August occasion included Presidential Aspirant of the All Progressive’ Congress (APC) and, Dr. Sam Nda’ Isaiah, philanthropist and successful business mogul, Mr. Sam Ohabunwa, Mr. Igwe Amobi of Slok Air, Pastor Itua Ighodalo, and several other successful businessmen.
Focusing on the failures of past governments to promptly diversify the country’s economy in spite of recent global warnings ( such as the United States’ hydraulic fracking technology and others) that there would soon be very low demand for Nigeria oil, Nda’Isaiah disclosed that there are over 34 mineral resources domiciled in all states of the federation which, if tapped into, could leapfrog the nation’s economy to an enviable status.
The business enterprenuer and publisher of Leadership newspapers, also identified key areas begging for urgent attention of the government for the desired change for progressive economy to be attained, he said: “The excuse that some economic resources are under the exclusive legislative list of the constitution will no longer wash. Every state in Nigeria, as a federating unit, has enough resources to exist as a rich nation if they were countries. There are 34 strategic minerals in Nigeria and they are spread all over the 36 states. The opportunities in agriculture are even more alluring. Nigeria has virtually everything and if there are any agricultural product that we currently don’t have, it is probably because they have not yet been planted by anyone in Nigeria.
“Some of our problems should even be embarrassing to us. For instance, more than 50% of all the yams consumed in Europe are Nigerian yams but not a single one is exported from Nigeria. Ghanaians and businessmen from other African countries, drive into Nigeria, buy our yams, take them to their countries and export the commodities, making millions of dollars for both themselves and their countries in the process. Ditto for shea butter. The shea butter commodity business is huge in the international market and Nigeria is a huge producer, but we are not players. The shea butter enterprise is a cartel business and the cartels in other African countries, come into Nigeria, pick our shea butter on the cheap to their countries and make a killing exporting them all over the world. If this sounds like an insult to you, it is because it is one.”
Ohabunwa who decried that some policies of the Federal Government (FG) have sadly provided hostile environment for meaningful businesses to thrive, urged the government to as a matter of urgency, open up the business environment with friendly and accommodating policies: “…If I were the government, I would look into areas where the country can do better than the rest of the world and invest heavily on them. Every country has its own product of best advantage and there is a need to tap into this. It is not by closing the door because that won’t help: it is by opening up for other countries to access your market and encourage massive local productivity and export of the products. We have comparative advantages in solid minerals such as gold, marble, rubber plantations, agriculture among others and we should tap into all these. For instance, government could discourage illegal mining of our solid minerals by engaging those involved in a legitimate business of exploring the resources you could even partner with say those skilled in mining golds and who are doing it illegally, government could procure equipment for the mining in partnership with the skilled people and the proceeds would be shared when the precious mineral has been explored. .”
Urging the government at the state and federal levels to wake up to the reality of falling oil price and promptly diversify the economy by first tapping into resources from their domestic environments, both of Igwe Amobi, representative of Slok Air, and Pastor Igbodalo agreed that purposeful leadership devoid of corrupt tendencies is the key to developing the nation and make it return to its glorious, agrarian age when the Nigerian Naira was much stronger than the European Dollars.
As part of the event, HOG magazine launched its latest edition, which carried the political achievements and commitment of Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki on its cover pages.
Mr. Ojenuwa, who explained the choice of the Senate President’s story as the lead of the magazine’s stories said Dr. Saraki’s radical posture in contributing his quota to the realisation of the Nigerian project, had endeared the editorial team of the magazine.
While Ojenuwa decried that though there are many opportunities for private business ownership in the country, rampant paucity of funds and unavailabiltiy of loan facilities from either the government or meaningful private financial institutional remain the clog in the wheel of progress, Nda’Isaiah assures that the government has put in place sundry loan facilities for agricultural related businesses and other genuine and creative ventures through the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Ministry of Agriculture.