29 November 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, says Nigeria must diversify the portfolio of economic activities, reduce dependency on mono sector and take advantage of new opportunities advanced by technology in order to boost its economy.
Proffering guidelines to achieve the much-desired diversification of the nation’s economic base from the vulnerability and fragility of oil and gas revenue, Baru regretted that the perennial complete dependence on oil as our main source of national income had remained a fundamental problem to the Nigerian economy.
He spoke at the 40th Pre-Convocation Lecture of the Ahmadu Bello University, in Zaria, in a lecture ientitled: Oil & Gas Industry and the Nigerian State: Enduring Value, Promoting Economic Integration and Social Stability.
The NNPC boss, a first class Mechanical Engineering graduate of the university, listed the recipes to include investments in infrastructure which entails improving transportation network and access to power and other utilities which would reduce the cost of doing business and improving competitiveness; promoting agricultural growth because agriculture is still the sector that employs the largest share of the labour force in most developing and transiting economies, including Nigeria.
“Improving agricultural productivity and commercialisation, and linking producers to markets are among some of the important measures required in this regard. Examples of Countries such as Chile and Malaysia confirmed the proposition that a healthy rural economy is necessary for industrialisation because the linkages between the two are obvious,” the GMD said.
He also professed that economic diversification that embraced various sectors such as Agriculture, Mining, and Manufacturing could rescue the nation from the current economic doldrums.
He said it was this strategy that had the potential of creating jobs for the teeming unemployed population of the youths as well as boosting the foreign exchange earnings of Nigeria.
Other options for diversification listed by the GMD included: Encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation through improved access to information, communication technology, finance and research and development; Promoting private investment in non-extractive sectors through improving the business and regulatory environment, providing better access to finance, and supporting entrepreneurship and skills development.
He added that Regional Economic Cooperation (RECs) was another factor which could enable the attainment of economic diversification by creating common markets, pooling resources, and providing a framework to coordinate the Regional management of infrastructure such as transportation corridors, energy and natural resources.
Dr. Baru stated that a good recipe for economic diversification should include increased investments in education, especially science, technology, technical and vocational education.