Nigeria is the most populous African country with an estimated population of about 170 million people. The nation which is made up of people of diverse cultures and religions is endowed with many natural resources spread across the country. At independence in 1960, the main source of the nation’s revenue was agriculture and solid minerals. Yet the country fared better in all ramifications!
The discovery of crude oil in the country in the 1960s and the boom in petroleum price in the global market led to her over dependence on petroleum and a gradual but consistent neglect of the real sector such as Agriculture and other sectors of the economy. Today Oil accounts for over 90% of Nigeria’s export revenue and 80% of the government’s budget.
The revenues were and are being mismanaged by the relevant authorities. Over reliance on petrol-dollars, was also believed to have heightened corruption in the country especially in high places. Public servants and policy formulators became lazy because of the availability of free money. Oil benchmark became the determinant in most cases, of the direction of Government budgeting, policies and programmes.
Sadly, the neglect of other sectors of the economy has left majority of the country’s workforce unengaged and under-engaged, creating a large pool of unemployed which has over time, become tools used by fift columnists to destabilize the country. In addition to this misery, the country, unfortunately is now in economic recession occasioned by the drop in oil price and lethargic government policies! The unpredictability of oil, the causal neglect of the real sector by successive Nigeria governments and the petroleum induced- corruption in the country have compelled many analysts to believe that oil rather than being a blessing to the country has become a curse!
Aside this, the brisk decline in the price of the “black gold” has changed the course of oil exportation in Nigeria’s economy. The reasons attributed to this decline are mainly based on increased competition amongst the producers, economic stagnation, instability and toxic geopolitics. This fall in global oil price is continuing because of a mismatch in demand and supply and other variables. Whatever is the reason for this drop, the Nigerian economy which is projected to grow at a faster rate in 2020, could not have asked for a better timing of the diversification of her economy beyond oil than now. In fact diversification beyond oil is long over due.
Nigeria is blessed with arable land and viable soil for plantation and mechanized farming! Diversifying into Solid Minerals, Agriculture and agro allied industry scale requires no extra miracles to turn her into the food chain of Africa and indeed reposition Nigeria as the giant of Africa that she truly is. With vision, hard work and political will it is possible.
Every state in Nigeria is a reservoir of Solid Mineral and Agricultural produce which have been untapped and unexplored.
A country which doesn’t produce what it consumes is simply sitting on a keg of gun powder waiting to explode. And it will only get worse if we continue to depend on oil and gas. As Nigerians, we have to think outside the box and do things differently. Doing things differently means planning properly, investing in the real sector top of which are Agriculture, Solid Minerals and consuming made in Nigeria goods!
In other words, we must change our economy from one which is dependent on import to a self-sufficient one in which the country earns revenue from exports. This is the only way we can attain our glorious place as the giant of Africa.
This revolution guarded by an aggressive zeal for manufacturing and production can best be championed by the youths because we have the energy. If we are complaining about the older generation mismanaging our economy to this pathetic height, then it behooves us- the youths to make progressive changes. My article is not based on just talk because I know talk is cheap. I have personally taken it upon myself to be an active part of this movement- diversification! To this end, my group of young productive team and I at Modickson Consortium are not resting on our oars in ensuring Nigeria attains its rightful place as a leading producing nation.
As we celebrate today, May 29, as yet another Democracy day, I urge all Nigerians to put on their thinking cap, get involved in the real sector and work towards diversifying the economy. Democracy can only be meaningful if Nigerians have food on their table. And with diversification, our economy will be boosted thereby putting food on the table of Nigerians!
In no distant future, oil will dry up. Oloibiri oil well, the first oil well in Nigeria from where oil was first struck in commercial quantity has dried up. That Oliobiri dried up is an eloquent testimony of how transient oil is. Even if oil doesn’t dry up, innovations in the automobile industry and ICT will made it to completely loose value!
On this occasion of our Democratic celebrations, we must not only talk of a Nigeria in a none Oil economy but implement the practical and sustainable realities of this ageing dream together because it is only with one resolve as a people that difference can be made.
“Diversification is the future for a stabilized, crisis-free, recession free and progressive Nigeria”.
I urge you to come with us on a time travel as we analyze the chances and opportunities that await the exploratory and adventurous hands of the most populous black nation.
Happy Democracy day!