Lack of economic diversification threatens Nigeria’s sovereignty – Senate President

*Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki.

*Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

17 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki has said Nigeria’s over-dependence on oil and gas has invariably harmed other sectors in the economy, pointing out that the problems associated with falling oil prices in the international market have become a national security issue.

Saraki, who was speaking at the 52nd Annual Conference and Exhibitions of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), in Ilorin, Kwara State, therefore, called for policies and initiatives that will help the Federal government achieve its plans to grow the economy and achieve economic balance.

He noted that “The economic strength of any country is commonly weighed by its alternative means of survival in the unfortunate failing series of failing primary sector. The key therefore to achieving true economic success, sovereignty and development are through strategic diversification of the economy.”

According to Saraki, only a strategic and sustainable diversification policy can present a buffer to the headwinds of globalization and rampant economic failures.

He said the country which is “rich and blessed with both the natural resources and human manpower of close to 200 million people must start to sustainably harness these potentials.

“Over-dependence on oil and gas has invariably deluded our trajectory from sectors like agriculture, tourism and indeed mineral resources over the years. We must understand that the hidden potential in these sectors can and will ultimately accommodate our infrastructure development plans, employment and human development agenda, as well as ensure economic sustenance for millions of Nigerians.”

The Senate leader also assured of the National Assembly’s support and commitment towards economic diversification by making laws that would enhance ease of doing business in the country and for the good governance of the people.

Speaking earlier, the President of NMGS, Prof. Gbenga Okunola, noted that any nation that relies solely on oil as the main source of its existence must be ready for unpleasant uncertainties, given the product’s position as a one of the drivers of international politics and conflicts.

He noted that the theme of the conference, “Economic Diversification through Sustainable Mineral Resources Development” so relevant especially now that the nation is looking to diversify its economy from oil and gas.

According to Okunola, “This conference is coming at a crucial time in the history of our country, especially when the main commodity, oil and gas, which has been regarded as the cash cow of the nation, is experiencing some deep turbulence.

“Of course, this is not the first time. This has happened severally before, and it only goes to underscore the fact that oil being one of the most important commodities is extremely exposed to the vagaries of turbulent, insoluble, speculative and hypocritical natures of global politics.”

He added that “For us in NMGS while we seek fervently for alternatives and are ready to proffer solutions in that regard as we have been doing, we also believe that the oil and gas sector needs serious overhauling and detailed attention to make it be more globally competitive.”

The NMGS President observed that it was gladdening to note that this present government has thought it fit and proper to make the diversification of the nation’s economy a major fulcrum of the policy thrust of the administration, adding, however, that, “we hope it will be a sustained policy that will not be jettisoned as soon as the oil outlook becomes brighter and shoots up again.”

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