The Nigerian Government says the country has no other choice at the moment than to diversify its economy to break its reliance on oil.
President Muhammadu Buhari while declaring open the 22nd Nigeria Economic Summit in Abuja stated the country needed to diversify the economy so that never again will it have to rely on one commodity to survive as a country
He called on Nigerians to change their habits by patronizing made-in-Nigeria goods and services.
According to him, increasing local production of goods and services will not only create jobs for the youths but move Nigeria from an import-based to an export-based economy.
He said: “I am also delighted that your theme is: ‘Made in Nigeria’ which lies at the heart of so many efforts we are making to lead us through this trouble times and lay a firm foundation for the future.
“As I have said in the past, we need to diversify the economy so that we will never again have to rely on one commodity to survive as a country. So that we can produce the food we eat, make our own textiles, produce most of the things we use and create the right environment for our youth to be able to benefit and create jobs through technology.
“This has been the commitment and the mandate of this administration and I have remained focus on it since the assumption of this administration.
“There is clearly no better way to achieve this without building out economic foundation of made in Nigeria goods and services. Fortunately, we have champions of made in Nigeria that have defied the odds over the years to produce locally and contribute to our economy.
“I hope by the end of this you will make useful and realistic recommendations and policies.” He said
The President added: “Initiative and incentives that will enhance your work we are already doing by this administration, I encourage more local production, to improve ease of doing business environment, transfer our technology and innovation capabilities, improve quality and standards, promote export and change our old attitude and behaviours to made in Nigeria products and services.
“My greatest desire is that Nigeria moves from import dependence to self-sufficiency in local production and become an export-led economy in goods and services,” he stated.
He said that he is looking forward to feedback on the summit’s deliberations.
Earlier a professor of economics and member of the Monetary Policy Committee, Doyin Salami, said Nigeria needed to quickly work out a comprehensive development plan.
Professor Salami in his analysis of Nigeria’s present economic landscape in the local and international context , warns that the numbers are not in the country’s favour.
Dr. Salami says though the outlook may look bleak, there is hope for Nigeria
Salami, who presented a paper on “the State of Nigerian Economy’’, said the review of the policy on local content would promote the production of ‘Made-in-Nigeria’ goods and services.
He said ‘Made-in-Nigeria’ goods and services would promote export value and discourage import value.
“We should learn to produce and patronise ‘Made-in- Nigeria’ goods because it is not a choice if we must create a global competitive economy.
“The call for ‘Made-in- Nigeria’ goods and services is a call to create and sustain a productive economy,’’ he said.
The expert said that absence of policy framework in all the sectors had contributed to the slow growth of the economy.
He, however, advised the government to articulate all road maps from the sectors and produce a development plan.
“There are road maps in various sectors- agriculture, education etc.
“These road maps need to be brought together and articulated and joined together into a development plan.
“It needs to be joined together so that the private sector can understand and take its lead from it. That is an imperative that should be achieved before the end of this year,’’ he said.
Salami further said that the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) of the Federal Government was a good plan, but that it lacked guidelines on how the investors could come in.
“Also, it doesn’t guide the economy on what our national preferences and what the development paths are going to be.
“A lot is said about diversification but let me put it in courtesy that Nigeria has 46 economic sectors, suggesting a decent level of diversification.
“It is not about diversification; it is about reducing the level of concentration on oil and output from key sectors that the economy depends on.
“Once you take agriculture, oil and gas, ICT, real estate and trade, other sectors are not vibrant and that cannot be good enough to boost the economy,’’ he said.
On the state of the economy, Salami said that the economy needed to come up with certain imperative such as global competitiveness and productivity, inclusive growth and value addition to address the economic crisis.
According to him, the current economy and business conditions are far from the ideal.
He said that the condition, however, offered a nation an opportunity to revitalise and to re-engineer the economy.
“As an economist, in those days, the worse scenario which economists feared most was stagflation- where you have stagnated growth, couple with rising cost.
“Our position is worse than that; what we have is an economy that is sinking in size. This year, it has sunk by one and half per cent, when you combine both quarter one and quarter two.
“It is sinking this year but the problem didn’t start this year, it started in 2013 and since then, the rate of growth has been slow and now it is contracted.
“Nigeria economy is driven by two impulses: it is driven by international events – things outside our control and those things that we do,’’ he said.
The official said that international events were not favourable to the country and have also affected the economy negatively.
“First, what has happened to the global economic policies? What has happened to global trade? What is happening to capital flows and finally what has happened to diaspora transfer to Nigeria?
“Of these four, only one remains favourable; the condition and output for the other three have worsened and unlikely to remain unfavourable for Nigeria perhaps in the life span of this administration,” he said.
In addition, he said that the dynamics of oil had changed as almost 72 countries in the world were producing oil, “so we must wean off ourselves from oil”
The three day summit will generate debates targeted at revamping the Nigerian economy and entrenching the culture of Made-in-Nigeria