By; NIYI OGUNGBOLA, Abeokuta.
The Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo yMonday said the federal government is on course in its determination to diversify the Nigeria economy and get the nation out of the current economic recession.
He stated this while declaring open the 8th Session of the National Council on Industry, Trade and Investment (NCITI -08) holding in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
According to him, Nigeria’s quest for diversification of economy from oil dependence would largely require improving the electricity generation to encourage the manufacturing sector.
In his address titled: “diversification of Nigeria from over dependence on oil”, Osinbajo further identified agriculture, transportation as well as technology sector as other critical areas which the country needs to improve on to enable her effectively diversify her economy.
The issue is how do we get it done and I am sure that most of us will agree that in our country, we are not short of plans; we are not short of policies; we are other short of great idea. The issue is how to get it done. The question for you here is; are these special meetings would be how do we exactly get this diversification done.
“I am sure that most of us agree that monitoring policies is crucial in practically all of what we would be doing. The flexible exchange rate policy is a policy that everyone thought was important and we would be able to get a flexible exchange rate policy in place. The implication of that of course, we are already seeing and of course as we perfect the approach and the policy. I am sure we are going to see greater benefits and policy.
Osinbajo emphasised that the nation must increase production across the value chains of the entire agriculture.
“On the account of our weak currency, it is cheaper, of course, to export the agriculture products and I am sure many are hearing of what is happening in the farming where our people are coming form North Africa to buy our produce because of the weak currency.
“The exchange rate is crucial whatever it is that we choose to do and I think our commitment to flexible exchange rate policy is a very important issue”.
On improved electricity generation, the VP revealed that the federal government is currently working on between 8 to 9 transmission stations across the country towards achieving that set target of 7, 000 Megawatts electricity generation for the country.
He expressed the hope that Nigeria can still meet its 7, 000 Megawatts electricity generation target by 2017 despite the drop in electricity generation from 5, 000 to less than 3000 Megawatts.
According to him, the Buhari led federal government was working on increasing gas supplies to enable the electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) increase power supply throughout the country towards improving the energy needs of the nation.
“Global competitiveness is crucial. We simply need to be competitive. It is crucial to trade more and produce more. We simply need to increase productivity not just in farming but also in manufacturing. But in order to increase in productivity, there are so many issues that we need to address.
“We need to reduce transaction cost, the cost of doing business in Nigeria and of course, we need to simply focus more on made in Nigeria, buy producing in Nigeria, buying from Nigeria, eating Nigerian food. I think one of the critical issues becoming more competitive is infrastructure and this has also been pointed out.
“We simply have to do a lot more in terms of improving our infrastructure and in 2016 budget and also in 2017 budget which is about ready, focused more on investment in infrastructure. Infrastructure in power.
Complaining on the menace and activities of the vandals which had caused the drop in gas supply, the he said that the federal government was already working on ways of ending activities of vandals and other violence which has constituted economic sabotage to the country.
He explained that these efforts are in recognition of federal government’s recognition of the importance of infrastructure to revamping the economy.
“We think that we will be able to do far more and our 7, 000 Megawatts target is achievable of course a lot of this depends on peace in Nigeria Delta. A lot will depend whether we are able to ensure that vandalisation stops in the Niger Delta on both oil and gas facilities”.
On poor transportation system as another challenge against economic recovery, Osinbajo disclosed that federal government was already working on the LAGOS/Kano; Lagos/Calabar rail transportation system in a way that would further contribute to revamping the economy.
He also explained that the LAGOS/Kano Narrow Gauge rail transportation is already concessioned to provide an alternative transportation system.
The VP further hinted that the federal government is already encouraging a privately owned oil refinery firm in the country which would refine 650, 000 bpd towards easing the petroleum products’ supply and accessibility in Nigeria.
According to him, when the privately owned refinery project is completed, Nigeria would be saving about 30 percent of the amount it spends on importation of refined crude into the country.