02 November 2014, Lagos – The sudden decline in the price of crude oil at the international marketer from over $100 to about $78 per barrel is unsettling for Nigeria’s economy, which depends largely on revenue from crude oil to run the economy.
This is happening at the same time Ghana is planning to cut the volume of gas import from Nigeria. Currently, Nigeria’s economy is about 90 per cent dependent on income from crude oil, even as the nation’s fiscal budget is often planned based on revenue from oil.
While some economic experts expressed fears that the nation’s economy may suffer cash crunch as a result of the dwindling price of crude oil, others advised the Federal Government to invest more in non-oil export sectors and entrepreneurial development to boost productivity.
In a chat with Sunday Vanguard in Lagos, an experienced entrepreneur and the Chancellor, Akpabio Centre for Leadership Development, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), established over seven years ago for entrepreneurial development and capacity building, Mr. Bassey James, advised President Goodluck Jonathan, to invest heavily in manufacturing and human-capital development in order to build a strong economy that is not dependent on oil.
He said, “We must build an economy that is technology driven like what obtains in advanced countries. The only way we can achieve this is to develop the industrial sector, which is capable of generating revenue and creating jobs at the same time. It is imperative for government to invest massively in infrastructure, agriculture, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and man-power development in order to encourage entrepreneurship across Nigeria.
Training is important because we need the skills, modern technology and the technical-know-how to refine crude oil in the country, rather than spending so much money to import refined petroleum products from other countries”.
On Ghana’s plan to cut gas importation from Nigeria, he explained, “Ghana’s move to significantly reduce the quantity of gas importation from Nigeria will not affect our economy in any way.
Every country is looking inward to build capacity locally, which is exactly what we need in Nigeria. This is the time for the citizens to support the efforts of government in growing the economy.
For example, the governors in other States should look at what is happening in Akwa Ibom, in terms of infrastructure and human capital development and replicate the same across the country.
If you visit the State, you will see that the current government has turn around the whole place by building good roads and other infrastructure needed to open up the State for Foreign Director Investments (FDIs).This is what we need for national development. The three tiers of government should key into economic concept of Akpabioism on capacity building. We need to train the mechanics, vulcanizers, hair dressers, barbers and other artisans to create wealth and employment in the economy”.
On the way out of the declining crude price, he stressed. “The way out is for government to take from what we have in the Excess Crude Account (ECA), which is estimated at about $4billion now. Also, we need functional plants to refine crude oil locally because we have a lot to benefit from it. #At the moment, we spend about $60billion to import refined petroleum products, which can be channeled into other projects if we have local refineries. For instance, there are over 200 by-products in crude oil but we are only maximising fuel, diesel and kerosene.”
*Udeme Clement – Vanguard