‘Diversification to promote local production, reduce food import bill’
Worried by the nation’s continued dependence on importation of raw materials that can be locally sourced and other commodities, a former Managing Director of the United Africa Company of Nigeria (UACN), Joshua Ajayi has called on the Federal Government and state governments to explore opportunities in diversifying the economy.
According to him, with various states having raw materials that have both comparative and competitive advantages, it is necessary to explore the opportunities in the country.
Ajayi stated this at the seventh yearly lecture of the College of Management Sciences (COLMAS), Bells University of Technology, Ogun State, titled “Recurring Nigerian Economic Crisis: Lesson and Prospects” held at the institution’s multipurpose hall.
According to him, such initiative would help in bringing back the nation’s industrial sectors which have virtually collapsed, with more than 75 per cent of consumption items imported into the country.
“There is need for Nigeria to particularly focus on agriculture as witnessed in the pre-oil boom era of Nigeria history when the sector contributed about 65 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) as well as represented almost 70 per cent of the total exports”, he said.
He explained that agriculture provided the foreign exchange needed to import raw materials and capital goods, saying: “The peasant farmers produced enough to feed the entire population and revenues were generated by the various marketing Boards with surplus used by the government to develop basic infrastructure”.
For him, the implications of the current economic crisis has brought about the decline in the revenue receipts by the three tiers of government leading to a contraction in fiscal sector, stock market crash and poor corporate governance issues.
“27 out of the 36 states of the federation cannot pay their employees’ salaries, yet governors in some of these debtors states were still traveling in private jets”, he added.
Insecurity has been an issue for decades-riots, ethnic and religious crisis, armed robbery, violence, raping, kidnapping, terrorism, cultism, yet most of our leaders sleep with their eyes closed”, he said.
The guest lecturer emphasised the need for government to intensify its efforts in fixing the ‘waves’ of corruption, excessive waste in the cost of governance and the importation of about 80-90 per cent of industrial materials which can be produced locally.
Ajayi expressed optimism that some of the initiatives taken by the Buhari-led government such as the introduction of Treasury Single Account (TSA), efforts at improving the nation’s security amongst others ,would help in improving the economy in the long-run.
“For a society to progress, it must be wiped clean from all elements of corruption. Therefore before Nigeria can dream of attaining good governance, the bad eggs in the government must be wiped out”, he added.
While stressing the need for leaders to serve the people with policies that would stimulate economic growth, eradicate poverty and hunger as well as achieve sustainable growth, he urged Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of responsible citizenship and the will to be more productive in all spheres of life.
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