Diversify Nigeria economy with agriculture as alternative to oil – Aregbesola
By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.
Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State has tasked the Federal Government to diversify the nation’s economy and break the monopoly of oil by seeing agriculture as a better alternative to oil in the resuscitation of Nigeria’s ailing economy.
Governor Aregbesola said this at the 7th Annual Lecture of Nigeria Association of Muslim Law Students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
According to the governor, agriculture remains the largest employer of labour thereby emphasizing the urgent need for Nigerians as well as government at all levels to encourage agriculture in a bid to revamp the dwindling economic fortune of Nigeria.
The governor pointed out that since oil has been selling for less than $40 for the past months, “it is quite predictable that the figures for November, when it is ready, would have dropped again,” saying, “the present situation when Osun collected N55.8 million to 2013 when the average money distributed to states from the federation accounts was in excess of N800 billion with average allocation then was N3.6 billion.
“While our monthly wage bill is N3.6billion, the highest amount we have received this year alone was N2.1 billion. It went as low as N466 million in April while the figure for September was N55 million. Don’t think this is a problem for the states alone. The Federal Government under the last PDP administration had to borrow N476 billion from commercial banks to pay salaries of some of its workers for the last four months of that better forgotten tenure,” he said.
The governor added “we did not make this up. This statement came from the administration’s Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala. The implication is that governments will be under a lot of strain to pay salaries, sustain themselves and embark on meaningful projects for the citizens.
“This also means that employment in the public sector will be frozen. If this trend continues, it is a recipe for social upheaval and a mortal threat to the survival of the Nigerian state. Given that oil is volatile. Some unforeseen conflict in the Middle East might trigger price surge and change this scenario altogether.
“However, what we are sure of is that Iran will soon add to the oil glut once the sanctions on it are lifted and increasing research and innovations in alternative energy sources will continue to reduce demand for oil and push further down the price”.
Speaking further, Governor Ajimobi noted that the current economic challenge “is an opportunity for government to urgently diversify the economy and break the monopoly of oil, adding that it will also be an opportunity to explore other areas like agriculture, solid minerals, communication technology and services.
“If we respond to this challenge appropriately, the creative energy of our people, especially the youth, will be activated and unleashed. This will lead to increased productivity and wealth creation on a scale we have never witnessed before. While it may appear difficult, it is not undoable. The ancient counsel remains, that no matter how far one has gone on a wrong path, the right thing to do is to turn back, if one is to get to the destination. No one cannot get out of a pit by continuing to dig deeper. One must stop digging”.
The governor maintained that the time has come for government at all levels to come up with value-adding agriculture to re-engineer the socio-political and economic structures of Nigeria.