Nigeria: Prepare for life beyond oil, Port Harcourt forum tells govt

*President of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji

*President of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Dr Emi MembereOtaji

08 May 2016, Port Harcourt — Stakeholders in the organised private sector have urged the Federal Government and nation’s economic managers to begin to prepare for life beyond oil while harnessing opportunities in other sectors.

Specifically, the experts at a business luncheon organised by the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce Mines and Agriculture, PHCCIMA, noted that despite the global shortfall in oil prices there are still huge economic and business opportunities in the country beyond oil.

Director of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Folusho Phillips, noted that the Federal Government needs to accept the reality that oil is truly gone and focus their energies on developing vigorously comparative advantage and competencies that will drive the economy and make up for years of dependence on oil.

Oil, according to him, made the country lax in its industrialization drive even though it accounted for about 12 percent of the nation’s economy, and was responsible for 96 per cent of forex exchange.

“In comparison to other nations, Nigeria depended on oil on the scale of 14 per cent as against Kuwait’s 65per cent, Saudi Arabia’s 45 percent and Iran’s 26per cent. So, there is no need to panic and resign our fate because the situation is not as bad as we make it look”, he said, stressing the need for economic managers to review the nation’s value proposition, imbibe a razor sharp focus and increase competencies which will ultimately will translate to comparable advantage for the nation.

“The good news in the scenario playing out is that Nigeria has a vibrant emerging middle class, bustling population and demographic like China, long stretch of arable land for agriculture among others. As a country, we need to change our attitude, have a well-defined value proposition and alter our taste for foreign goods.

“Similarly, we must invest in education as this has become necessary considering that the world is at its fourth industrial revolution while Nigeria is yet to go through the first. We must review our judiciary, the police and other strategic government institutions and have an effective and efficient macro- economic environment that will enhance financial stability in the light of the fact that no investor will invest in an unpredictable environment, affirming once again that there are huge opportunities beyond oil in the country”, Phillips added.

President, Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji, said Nigerian economy has been over-stressed as a result of over-dependence on the oil sector and called for urgent diversification effort to stimulate the economy.

He expressed strong faith in the ability of the country to bounce back saying “real opportunity exists for Nigeria to inject new dynamism into its economy through a productive and investment-led transformation with effort in the diversification of the economy to help ensure future growth, employment, and prosperity.

Dr. Membere-Otaji noted that the country can no longer rely on oil revenue in the face of a changing global energy market.
*Femi Adekoya – Guardian

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