By Favour Nnabugwu
Successive administrations have acknowledged that if the country must achieve the goal of becoming one of the top 20 largest economies of the world, Nigeria must develop the non-oil export sector.
The sustained volatility surrounding oil price at the world market, the global tendency towards a diversified export based economy and the urgent need to expedite the process of economic growth have made it imperative that we either focus on non-oil export or we regret it.
From statistics, only few countries can match Nigeria’s endowment in natural resources. With an estimated population of over 160 million, Nigeria boasts, onshore and offshore, of the finest deposits of oil and natural gas, a rainforest belt that offers the best cash crops and hard wood and a savannah region with tonnes of oil seeds, coffee, chilies, spices and abundant solid mineral resources.
In spite of its potentials, Nigeria’s economy has remained largely monolithic with investment in non-oil export sector being everything but strategic.
There is no gainsaying that any policy or strategy aimed at achieving the Vision 20-2020, and the country’s economic recovery, should integrate the development of the non-oil export sector.
Oil revenue is dismal and Boko Haram has not out-rightly been defeated.
While President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to bring the country out of the woods, how well he is faring is open to debate. His anti-corruption, which initially instilled the fear of a tough cop in town, appears frustrated by a judicial system that is open to abuse.
Nigerians feeling the economic crisis instigated by low oil price.
This will further emphasise the sensitivity of non-oil exports and the seriousness with which government aims to tackle the much publicised diversification of the economic base of the nation.
However, on the day of the first year anniversary of the APC-led government, many Nigerians and investors are still searching for the economic policy direction of the government.
What could pass as some of the policies taken by the government in the past one year include the Treasury Single Account Policy, TSA, that came into effect on September 15, 2015.
Under the policy, which the government said was aimed at checking leakages in government ministries and agencies, all funds of Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, domiciled in commercial banks were withdrawn and deposited in a designated account in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
The import of this policy, according to observers, is that while government claimed it has brought over two trillion Naira to the coffers of government, it has turned out to be a bitter pill to many banks that were hitherto relying on such funds to boost their liquidity.
Another policy the government took in the past one year as regards the economy is the blanket ban placed on many items from being imported. The policy, spearheaded by the Godwin Emefiele-led CBN, banned 41 items from importation list. This policy has visited untold operational difficulties on small and medium scale enterprises and manufacturers leading to most of them either closing shop or embarking on massive retrenchment of workers.
The economic team of Buhari has been criticized as lacking the capacity to fashion out a clear direction for the government to resuscitate the economy. Experts argue that the deficit in the economic team of Buhari is the lack of economic egg heads and private sector entrepreneurs as was the case under former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.
As Buhari marks one year in office, Nigerians are angry that things have become worse and many are suffering and hoping the coming months will alleviate the pains of the cost of living and paucity of funds in all sectors of the economy.