Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Bello has lauded the ‘Zero Oil’ Plan initiative of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) as one of the best steps to take in Nigeria’s pursuit to diversify her economy away from the monolithic product of oil.
He made the declaration when he hosted the Executive Director/CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Mr Olusegun Awolowo and his Management at his office in Government House Minna, the State Capital.
Gov. Sani Bello emphasised that emerging facts have shown that the country’s economy has to be diversified and shift from being monolithic.
“Nigerians have always known the right path to take in changing the economic narrative of the country but lacked the courage to take the bull by horn. With the situation we have found ourselves – the economic downturn necessitated by continuous slide in price of oil, we have no option than to turn to agriculture and exportation.
“Niger State is blessed with several of these key products including rice, soya bean, cotton and gold among others. The truth is that Niger State has more than what NEPC is promoting now and we are set to key into the new move as the initiative is in line with cardinal priority programme of this administration,” the governor stated.
He however advised that the Private Sector and strong international up-takers be involved for the initiative to succeed and for its sustenance.
As an immediate demonstration of support for the Initiative, Gov. Sani Bello constituted a 7-man Committee made up of Director Generals of relevant Ministries in the State, under the leadership of the Commissioner of Industry & Commerce, Hajiya Ramatu Yar’adua.
This committee, which has one month to submit its report, is to strategise and identify at least three products for exportation and synergize with NEPC for that purpose.
Presenting the ‘Zero Oil’ Plan initiative, NEPC boss, Mr. Segun Awolowo emphasised the use of exports as a core economic driver of the country in job creation, increased investments and growth in government income which would lead to macro-economic stability through foreign exchange inflows.
Awolowo validated that the economic miracles the Asian countries, within a single generation were primarily anchored on export orientated industrialization, which led to increased revenue, drastic reduction in poverty and inclusive growth – all of which the Zero Oil Plan is expected to achieve for Nigeria.
“Nigeria needs to deepen her footprints on manufacturing for export, up scaling the production of items where Nigeria has comparative and competitive advantage in the global market.
“The NEPC boss noted that leading oil exporting countries such as Saudi Arabia have introduced national plans to stop their over-dependence on oil, Nigeria must do the same,” Awolowo canvassed
The Zero Oil plan has set a long term goal of earning 20% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (that is, approximately US$100Billion) from non-oil exports. The initial target however is to exceed US$30Billion in non-oil exports over the next 10 years (starting from US$5Billion today). States have an important role to play in Nigeria’s export diversification plans – the reason why NEPC has also introduced the One-State-One-Product initiative to encourage States’ involvement in exports and scale up production of selected items of exportation.
The visit to Gov. Sani Bello was part of the nationwide engagement strategy by the Nigeria Export Promotion Council to create the buy-in of stakeholders and investors on the government’s vision to put behind Nigeria’s over dependence on crude oil, in line with the current administration’s agenda of restructuring the economy as a way to reduce the dependence on crude oil exports.