May 23, 2024

Over-dependence on oil can’t secure Nigeria’s future – Sanusi

Lamido Sanusi

*Pays tribute to Late Herbert Wives

By Daniel Abia

Basking in the euphoria of his reinstatement, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the 14th Emir of Kano has advocated for the diversification of Nigeria’s economy to meet up with the prevailing economic challenges the country is facing.

Emir Sanusi explained that while the country has been relying heavily on oil as a monolithic economy and the major source of its revenue, the country can only fully enjoy the benefits of oil when other resources are harnessed and judiciously utilized.

The former Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria, CBN, gave the hint while delivering his paper as a guest speaker at the 2024 Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit, RSEIS, held at the Obi Wali International Conference Centre in Port Harcourt, Rivers state on Thursday.

“River State is blessed with abundant oil resources, a gift that has significantly contributed to the economy of Nigeria as a whole. However, sitting on oil or any natural resource is not enough for economic development.

“I have said over and over again that if we were to dig out all the oil that is under Nigeria’s soil today and sell it and share the money among all Nigerians, we would, at best, be a lower-middle-income country. So, oil is a resource, but it’s not enough to make us a wealthy country.

“To achieve development, it is imperative that we recognise the need to take specific steps that transcend natural resources to diversify and institutionalize foundational economic frameworks to fully reap the blessings of oil itself, chiefly because it is not wholly controlled by the state.

“There’s a need to consider its viability and risks. To ensure a prosperous future, we must embrace innovation and reforms to make the state attractive for investment and capable of realistic growth. In other words, it is the capacity of state institutions to ensure quality in thinking and skills of the population that will be critical to the delivery of results”, Sanusi said.

The reverted Emir noted that “resources can be a blessing, and resources can be a curse despite having an abundance of mineral resources, countries like Russia, the UAE and Norway have developed not only by those resources given to them by nature or providence but by successful and deliberate vision to diversify through the quality of their governance institutions and people. If we’re serious about development, we have to stop expecting oil to do everything for us,” he added.

The Monarch stated that the nation’s economy can witness a boom if the investment and infrastructure put in place are well secured.

“Everyone in Nigeria now talks about investment, infrastructure, and development, but few consider that no investors would simply deploy resources in the name of investment unless they see that the environment is prepared to accommodate their business, make it prosper, and protect it,” adding that the development of countries such as the United States and China, owe to innovation, intellectual property, education and strong public institutions.”

According to him, Rivers State being the second largest economy in Nigeria, “has a unique opportunity to emerge as a beacon of progress in the face of hopelessness. It has the opportunity to operationalise the ideals of the concept of sub- nationalism in a federal context by building a resilient, dynamic, modern and effective system that fosters economic development and prosperity.

“With rich arable land, abundant oil and water resources, as well as the strategic location of the state, Rivers can be one of the best investor paradises not just in Nigeria but in West Africa if the right things can be done.”

Sanusi expressed appreciation to the state governor, Siminalayi Fubara, for the invitation, saying that the state government must prioritise design education and skills training to improve its oil-based economy.

“However, honour begets honuor, and I regard your invitation, Your Excellency, as an absolute honour, which is why I’m here.

“Also, honouring Rivers State is, for me, honouring one of my best friends, Herbert Wigwe. And this is another way of paying my respects to him, and today of all days, I wish he were here with me,” Sanusi said