WorldStage Newsonline– The Federal Government of Nigeria has been urged to cut the nation’s dependence on crude oil as its major source of income in view of its endowment with immeasurable human and material resources.
The call was made by Mr Toye Durosimi, a top national security official in a paper he sent to the WorldStage Economic Summit 2018 with the theme: New Sources of Economic Strength to Make The Future Happen, held on Tuesday at the Event Centre, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Lagos.
Specifically, Durosimi who also has a legal background, advised that the country will be better off if able to harness natural endowments in the solid mineral sector and innovations in agricultural practices, optimize opportunities in bitumen exploration, efficient tax administration, electricity for export, customs and excise, port development and tourism.
According to him, there was no better time for the economic summit than in October, a symbolic of Nigeria’s Political independence, but, “regrettably, even though we are politically independent, it cannot be argued that Nigeria is economically independent. The nation is entangled in webs of economic independence on other nations for her day to day survival. Prior to Nigerian independence and before discovery of oil, Nigerian nation has existed as an economically viable nation and development was according to the resources of each region. Taxes collected from Agricultural products, solid mineral exploration and exports were prudently managed with little or no fraudulent practice formed the bases of survival of the nation and the federating regions.”
He recalled that the then pre independence federating regions competed amongst themselves in revenue generation and in capital projects execution.
“However, with the discovery of oil and arrival of petrol dollar as the major source of revenue for the Federal Government and the federating states both levels of government now depends majorly on shares from oil revenue thereby relegating other sources of revenue for their capital and recurrent expenditure generation to the background for the cheap petrol dollars.”
He explained that the most disturbing “is the fact that, Nigeria up until today is not able to refine for local use her crude oil let alone exporting finished oil products rather, the country export raw petroleum products, in return imports refined petroleum products this way our Nation creates jobs and wealth for other Nations.
“Thus the fortune of federal and state governments in Nigeria hugely depended on oil production and sales and whatever happens to oil market directly affects the fortune of the nation and the federating states. A glut in the oil market or disruption in oil production activities will adversely affect the nation economy. In most cases the nation resort to huge borrowing or low profile measures to be able to cope, at times zero allocation to some critical sectors of the economy may resort to increasing her vulnerability to infrastructural deficit.”
On alternative sources of revenue, he added that one area of economic development worth mentioning should be the solid mineral development.
“Over dependence in oil has resulted in reckless abandonment of exploration of other mineral resources. There is no state in Nigeria without a deposit of one mineral resources or the other. Apart from oil, other mineral resources with better economic values are left to illegal miners who employ crude methods to explore without paying royalty to the government. For example, Osun and Zamfara States are rich in gold deposit but ironically are among the most economically poorest states in Nigeria,” he said.
He said, concerted efforts must be geared towards mining of natural solid minerals starting with adequate legal framework.
“Our obsolete mining laws must be replaced with robust legislation to pave the way for public/private participation in order to encourage foreign and local investors in this area. While the world is moving towards mechanized farming to impact on food sufficiency, crude agricultural practices of shifting cultivation, nomadic practices are prevalent in Nigeria with very far reaching consequences,” he said.
“The bitumen exploration should be pursued with vigor. The resource is available in commercial quantities in Edo, Ondo and Ogun states but Nigeria continues to spend its meager foreign exchange in importing same for our need development. These could be another job creation and another foreign exchange if exploit.”
He also advised that the government must redouble efforts in agricultural production through a monitored subsidy (to ensure government palliatives get to the targeted farmers).
“Efforts must also be made to partner with other countries which have records of remarkable agricultural advancement. The kibbutz agricultural system practiced in Isreal is a good example. This model could be considered in Nigeria with consideration to our peculiar situations to establish cocoa plantation kibbutz in Osun, Ondo, Ekiti States. Similarly, oil palm kibbutz In Edo, Delta, Anambra, Enugu States; Rice production kibbutz in Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Niger Benue States, etc. With these agriculture will reclaim its position as the major foreign exchange earner as it was before the oil boom. In addition, modern agriculture, if well established will attract youths from cities to the rural areas which will ensure a gradual replacement of aged and ageing farmers and obsolete farm practices,” he said.
“Nigeria gas deposit is enormous; it is therefore feasible to build export bond power stations using our gas resources to power them after solving our own power challenges. The export dedicated power stations could supply electricity to our neighboring countries some may find it cheaper and affordable for them to buy power from Nigeria rather than building their own power stations. This is also an area when government could earn revenue in future. Electricity will play big role in future activities.
“Revenue collection to the Federal Government purse through the customs is being hindered by the activities of smugglers who have perfected ways of circumventing the government agencies through smuggling. Technology application and proper manning of our smuggling prone boarders could yield more revenue to the government. It is possible to develop ICT which will make it impossible for any vehicle imported to the country un-registrable until full appropriate duties area paid. Our local industries should be made to pay the excise duties on the locally produced goods by ensuring the officers posted to monitor production are professional in the conduct of their duties the production establishments. Technology application at the points will ensure accurate declaration of imported items and the right payment of import duty on them the era of physical inspection of cargo is becoming out dated the world over.
“Our ports are today congested because of inability of the nation to think outside the box and develop ports in Badagry, Lekki axis thereby reducing over reliance on the Apapa and Tincan Island ports which have been overstretched.
“The Warri, Calabar and Rivers Ports are shallow and nothing tangible appears to have been done or being done to dredge them. Foreign investors could also be brought in through a public/private partnership. This could be another economic strength for a nation that has over 800 kilometers of shorelines.
“The national carrier – air, water and land must be resuscitated to meet the yearning of robust transportation identity for carriage of passengers and cargo. A tremendous economic potential in which national carrier would flourish should be encouraged. Nations like Ethiopia, Kenya and others earn huge revenues from the activities of their natural carriers. Our ports could also be made to serve other land locked counties such as Niger, Chad and others in this category.”
On tourism, another major economic strength if well developed, he said the Badagry Slave Port, the Yankari Game Reserve, the Argungu Fishing Festival the UNESCO listed Osun Oshogbo grooves and its festival, the Ojude Oba Festival, the Calabar Carnival among others could be turned to money making ventures if well developed.
“Many nations of the world make huge revenue from tourism. Nigeria has what it takes to make it in this area of the economy,” he said.