26 August 2013, Lagos – Minister of National Planning, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, has said the federal government is not comfortable with the recent discovery of massive shale gas in the United States because of the likely effect on the country’s revenue.
Usman revealed this at the weekend while responding to questions from journalists at a media briefing on the forthcoming 19th Nigerian Economic Summit, NES, held in Lagos.
According to him, “At our last Federal Executive Committee (FEC) meeting, we spent a lot of time discussing the issue of the need to diversify the economy especially because of the threat to oil, the shale oil and the issue of the United States not needing our oil anymore for a long time and the possibility of planning and obviously we need to diversify.
“We have been talking about this for a long time and it has been part of our vision in this country. We have set up a long-term plan particularly in the agricultural sector.”
Usman also reiterated that his office was working on a 30-year infrastructure master plan to integrate all the sectors of the economy in order to achieve optimal growth for the economy.
“The wider issue of infrastructure needs to be addressed at the government. We are drawing out a 30 year infrastructure plan that is in draft now and we are going round the six geo-political zones to see how we can integrate sectors to work better together.
“We are talking about the broader issue of infrastructure, especially integration because the problem in the past has been that we have had gas master plan, road master plan and some of these plans have not been successful because of the issue of integration for especially with information technology. We can actually integrate and other example we have is that our ports are not integrated into our rails and roads,” he added.
The NES will hold in Abuja between September 3 and 5, this year, with the theme: “Growing Agriculture as Business to Diversify Nigeria’s Economy.”
Usman also said: “Nigeria’s agricultural sector is undergoing massive transformation with the focus on growing agriculture as a business. For the first time, an Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) has been developed and is being vigorously implemented by the government.
“The agricultural sector is also to play a critical role in the realisation of the transformation agenda.”
On his part, the Director-General of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, Mr. Frank Nweke, noted with unemployment rates as high as 23.9 per cent as at 2011 and a high food import bill of approximately $8 billion in 2012, the country has the opportunity to reduce unemployment through investment in the agricultural sector.
– This Day