as Dangote urges for urgent diversification of economy
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-As the nation grapples with severe economic crisis, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that its survival was dependent on the agricultural and manufacturing sector.
Buhari stated this at the 44th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) held at Transcorp Hilton hotel, Abuja on Thursday.
He lauded the association over the theme of the conference “Diversifying the Nigerian Economy: the Role of Government in Manufacturing”, saying it was timely.
He said: “This event is timely and the theme ‘Diversifying the Nigerian Economy: the Role of Government in Manufacturing’ quite apt as it is coming at a time when the nation is faced with the urgent need to diversify the economy in the light of dwindling price of crude oil in the global market. As you know, the dramatic fall in crude oil and other commodity prices has had a serious negative impact on world economies, especially countries like Nigeria which depended on one commodity for its export earnings.
“This Administration is convinced that the key to our quest for economic diversification and therefore survival lies in Agriculture and the Manufacturing sector. A strong manufacturing sector will create more jobs and wealth for our people. It will usher in sustainable economic prosperity because we will produce what we consume as a nation and generate foreign exchange by exporting any surplus.
“The Manufacturing sector is well positioned to be a major driver of Nigeria’s economic growth because of our immense natural resources and the entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians. Government is therefore focused on implementing necessary policies and strategies aimed at unleashing the full potentials of manufacturing in Nigeria. We will rely heavily on your ideas and inputs at all stages of formulation and implementation of new industrial policies. For our part, we will remove bottlenecks and create a more business friendly environment.
“Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, our strategic plan to boost manufacturing activities in the country is supported by the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and the National Enterprises Development Programme (NEDEP). These programs, present a clear road map towards an industrialised Nigerian economy.”
The president told the manufacturers that his government had made frantic efforts to improve the patronage of locally produced goods even as he asked them to expect an invitation from his government to help reposition the country.
“We are working on improving the patronage of locally made goods, bridging the gap between skills required by industry and those provided by our educational institutions and access to finance for our Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs). We recognise that MAN and the other Organised Private Sector (OPS) groups are our key stakeholders in this journey and we will continue our engagement with you.
“As events unfold in the coming months, many of you will be called upon to play critical roles in the implementation of this Administration’s agenda. I implore you to avail us your wealth of experience so that together we can uplift our nation’s economy and social well-being”, he said.
Also speaking, the president, Dangote Group of companies, Alhaji Aligo Dangote, while delivering a lecture reemphasized the need for the country to urgently diversified the economy especially in the midst of the dwindling crude oil prices.
“Since the massive decline in the price of crude oil over the past two years, oil exporting nations, Nigeria inclusive, have been grappling with severe deterioration in their fiscal positions. It has yet again become very evident, that Nigeria urgently needs to develop other income streams by diversifying its economy since it can no longer depend solely on crude oil exports to fund its economy.
“Fortunately, Nigeria has huge latent potential which can propel economic diversification. Our country has at least 44 known minerals scattered across the length and breath of the country as well as a huge expanse of arable land that supports the growth of most tropical crops. Indeed, even crops which we would typically associate with temperate regions of the world are known to grow in the highlands of Jos, Adamawa and Obudu.
“As a nation, we need to stem the massive outflow of foreign exchange by weaning ourselves off our propensity to import what we can efficiently produce locally. Economic diversification through value addition for our domestic and export markets is the only way Nigeria will recover from its present economic predicament and achieve high levels of inclusive growth over a sustained period of time.
“At this juncture it is worth emphasizing that diversifying the Nigerian economy does not mean we should neglect our oil & gas sector. On the contrary, the oil & gas sector needs to be deepened and expanded to enable us unlock the full benefits in the hydrocarbon value chain”, he said.
He also outlined the roles of government in the diversification process sector of the economy.
“Although the diversification of the economy has to be private sector led, government at both the national and sub-national levels have a huge role to play in attracting and facilitating long term investments. Some of the key steps needed to be taken by government include the articulation of clear sector specific policies along with incentive packages that are commensurate with the risk inherent in each sector; More support for small and medium scale manufacturers, since many Nigerian manufacturers are relatively small with limited capital to support their investments; Boosting non-oil exports to bring in much needed foreign exchange, by ratifying and implementing the road-map recently developed the Nigerian Export Promotion Council.”