Features: Nigeria Economy: Galvanising the Non-Oil Sector to Lead

Features: Nigeria Economy: Galvanising the Non-Oil Sector to Lead
July 29 23:00 2015 Print This Article

Mining-480x300By Noel Onoja

There is no gainsaying the fact that it is now time for the nation to re-focus on the non-oil sector of its economic endeavour as it once was and with all her strength and attention give life to that sector, its time to revive our agriculture, mining and industries, time to revamp the manufacturing, tourism, entertainment and service sectors, it is time to dust-up our export books and policies for local productions, it is time to have our steel complex up and running, to have our auto industries supply Africa and on and on.

But before we jump unto all of those, we must first of all grease the wheels and machines of the non-oil sector that has been left to rut by long years of neglect and redundancy encouraged by a mono-economic system largely reliant on an oil-revenue-source that has inturn been enmeshed in corruption and lack of transparency.

Clogging Oil Sector:
Again I must reiterate, that In respect of the present global and local economic predicament Nigeria has found itself, there is urgent and serious need for the government of the day to get the country’s non-oil sector up and running, there is need for critical attention to be given this sector if we want to cushion the effect of our dwindling misfortune in the oil market, the government of the day must hit the ground running as a matter of national importance and a major policy thrust.

In my opinion, it will be a landmark achievement for the Nigerian people if government is able to re-channel the country’s economic dependency from oil as it is no longer a promised mainstay, oil fortune for Nigeria might continue to glide downward atleast for coming years; most recently, Iran has bounced back into the international oil market following a deal that was reached with the US to life-off economic sanctions, part of the implication of this as analyst have forcasted is that Nigeria is bound to loose 150,000 direct and indirect jobs in the oil sector as a result of Iran’s entrance into the global oil trade.

It doesn’t stop there, most recently the US which was before now Nigeria’s biggest oil trading partner have stopped buying Nigeria’s ‘bonny lite crude’ because they have found an alternative source, they have been able to develop their ‘shale oil’ production which has effectively benched her importation of Nigeria’s sweet crude, effort to re-direct the Nigeria’s crude supply from the west to the east has met an uphill task also as China has reportedly snobbed Nigeria’s oil trade prospect with her repeatedly.

With the expectant development of alternative and cleaner energy sources globally, coupled with the expected flooding of the oil market by major oil producers, global oil prices is expected to further deepen and this might mean a continuous decline of oil revenue for Nigeria.

Oiling The Non-Oil Sector:
The Nigerian non-oil sector under its own given privileges has been a driver of economy, consistently growing at an 8 per cent average for the past four years, this feat can be deepened.

On his part, President Muhammadu Buhari has began to show zest in wooing foreign direct investment (FDI) drive that will support the non-oil sector, he has continued to emphasis (from his pre-election agenda) the need to re-focus on the sector and the need to drive it through foreign investment, recently in his state visit to the US, the President met with a robust team of American business community who also are interested in harnessing the massive opportunity being offered by the non-oil sector in Nigeria.

During that meeting President Buhari emphasised that his government will boost investor’s confidence by creating the “necessary environment for future investment in Nigeria”.

President Buhari invited American business leaders to take advantage of opportunities in Nigeria, promising that his administration will be attentive to the needs of genuine investors by easing visa procedures and promoting “accountability and good governance, respect for rule of law, strict compliance with and observance of contractual agreements”.

He touted the country’s population and market size as well as vast natural resources and skilled workforce as Nigeria’s competitive edge over other business destinations in Africa and, as advantages American investors can tap into.

President Buhari emphasized the need for the private sector to assume a greater role in economic development in Nigeria as the country “takes steps to a non-oil based economy”, adding that Nigeria has enormous economic potentials that require heavy funding which cannot be sourced locally in Nigeria alone.

He called on multilateral agencies such as “Overseas Investment Corporation and the US Export-Import Bank to increase investment and funding of such businesses on favourable terms.”

And in view of the current Naira predicament, we must ensure that the Naira remains strong and give foreign investors the clarity and certainty that they need, to guide future investment decisions.
and also continue to improve our payment systems and strengthen risk-based supervision mechanism for Nigerian banks to ensure overall health and stability of the banking system.

These are all steps geared toward galvanising the non-oil sector of Nigeria, therefore,  government should begin to evaluate its machineries, mechanisms and administrative structures it has long had in place to drive growth of the non-oil sector, to look at how well they have been able to carry out their mandate, to look at how well they have been funded and how well it may be improved upon, and how well attention have been given them in aiding their effective and maximum service delivery to the country.

The Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) should better equipped to play a more proactive and regulatory role; Aside FDIs that may come in also, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),Bank of Industry (BOI), Nigeria Export and Import Bank (NEXIM), related financial institutions and even Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) should be seen taking a frontline stance as regards to effectively making funds available for the sector’s growth and this should become a matter of policy.

This should be inclusive of all stakeholders in the service of the non-oil sector, the private industry drivers, the manufacturers and their unions, as in a capitalist economy, private individuals and entrepreneur should be encouraged to take up responsibility in the sector’s development.

By the time we are able to get our non-oil sector up and running, it is the belief that our economic fortune will blossom as a nation with attendant effect in the lives of ordinary Nigerians, creating more jobs and opportunities and positing our economic pride of place in the commity of nations.

Noel Onoja writes from Abuja. amgentmedia@gmail.com

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