By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – AGAINST the backdrop of the present dwindling International price of oil, the thirty- six state governors Monday told President Mohammadu Buhari that if Nigeria must be one of the top economies of the world, there was the urgent need for the diversification of the economy.
The governors who operate under the aegis, Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, said that diversification would help boost the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR base of the country.
Speaking in Abuja at the beginning of a two-day Internally Generated Revenue workshop organised by the NGF,Chairman of the forum and governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’aziz Yari who noted that the solution to the declining fiscal revenue facing most states lies in the diversification of the economy, said, “economic diversification is of course vital to ensuring the long-term economic growth we seek. We must ensure that we are competitive in the way we diversify our economies, and ensure that the private sector plays a stronger role going forward. This event should guide our states to share practical and effective experiences for boosting revenue generation and also provide strategies to kick-start the process.”
Yari, who was represented by Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, stressed that Nigeria’s economic challenges could be overcome when the leaders make conscious efforts “to do the right thing at the right time.”
According to the NGF Chairman, the IGR peer learning event was coming at a time the governors were expected to live up the the expectations of the electorate, and charged the attendees to “mobilise the potential interaction of the resources “to meet the revenue gaps.”
He disclosed that NGF members have agreed to adopt the findings of the summit as an important action plan for ensuring a more robust internally generated revenue base for states, adding, “We will also expect periodic briefings from our secretariat on the status of these plans and how our states have been able to implement them.”
The governor however noted that the declining fiscal situation in Nigeria has considerably hurt the nation’s development plans.
Also in his remarks, Imo state governor and Chairman of Progressives Governors’ Forum, Rochas Okoracha who attributed the leakages in the system to why resources are not enough to service the states, however called for the fusion of culture into the nation’s political and economy lives, adding that “democracy which we don’t understand has further deepened our problem.”
Okorocha said: “We have enough resources to run the states but there are so much leakages. There are cultural challenges, no nation can grow above its cultural resources. Culture has a lot to do in our politics and economy. Let us develop our land and be less oil dependant.”
Addressing Journalists shortly after his presentation, Okorocha said “while we are looking at our internal generated revenues, which is given and which has its challenges in many steps, we should also look deeper inward and start to develop the resources of our land, mainly agriculture.
“Now that things have gone the way they have gone and are going the way they are going in this country, we have no other option than to attempt for the very first time to develop properly the resources of our land, with emphasis on agriculture, which hitherto has given us over 70 percent opportunity of employment and has been largely responsible for our foreign exchange.”
On whether the new ministers merit their positions, the Imo state governor said, “what is the criteria for merit, everyone there merit the position, let’s wait and see their performance and their output, the taste of the pudding is in the eating.”