18 March 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – Renowned economist, Professor Pat Utomi, has said that long years of government’s wrong policy choices in the oil and gas sector plunged Nigeria into its current recession.
Utomi, who is of the Lagos Business School, opined that the federal government’s target of December 2017 as deadline for the country to come out of recession was not attainable.
Speaking as the guest lecturer at a two-day workshop organised by the Rivers State Council of the Trade Union Congress, TUC, in Port Harcourt, with the theme: ‘Nigeria Economy Performance, Outlook, and Way forward’, Prof. Utomi reiterated the need for diversification as oil would no longer be relevant in the next 40 years.
He stated that even within the oil and gas sector, there was a need for linkages in the value chain.
According to him, “Obviously we have not managed as we should have within the oil and gas value chain. Take a look at the UAE and Saudi Arabia, they have been able to invest enough in the value chain which is the basis of export.
“The hydrocarbon value chain offers so many possibilities, but unfortunately in our country there is a disconnect; the oil sector in Nigeria is monoline, the linkages are not there.
“There is no reason why we should not have industries built around gas; but because we do not add much value we cannot even get petrol, we have to import PMS after producing crude oil, and this is as a result of years of wrong policy choices we have made as a country.
“Let’s bear in mind that oil is a finite resources, 40years from now no one will talk about crude oil anymore in Nigeria because it will more or less be relegated.
On Federal Government’s December target for the country to come out of recession, Prof. Utomi who wondered if majority of the masses would be employed by December, explained that the country can only come out of recession when a major percentage of the citizens are gainfully employed.
He noted that the problem of Nigeria “is having misfits in the corridors of power who keep making wrong policies for the country, as politicians keep playing politics at the detriment of the country’s development”.
He said, “The problem of Nigeria in my view is the triumph of politics over policies. What is recession? Coming out of recession is about building an economy where people are not unemployed. Will our young graduates roaming the streets get employed by December? We will only come out of recession when most of our brothers and sisters are employed; when the masses can eat three decent meals a day”.
“For us to move from a consumption nation to a production nation, we need infrastructures. Infrastructure is critical for production, we need to get more rigorous with policy making, we need more passionate patriots to step into the policy making arena and not adventurers; Let’s be honest, our political sphere is occupied mainly by adventurers who are looking for power and are no fit for policies. There is a shame to the strategies that we have adopted. We are all guilty, but can we become more determined?,” Utomi queried.