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Developing The Economy Beyond Oil

Before independence on 1 October 1960, the economy of Nigeria depended on cocoa and groundnuts produced by the western and northern regions of Nigeria respectively. And the the derivation formula was much favourable to the regions. That is why monumental proofs like the cocoa House in Ibadan and Groundnut pyramids in Kano are land mark to show for what took place in the past.

The economy of Nigeria today, does not depend on cocoa and groundnut, since the exploration and exploitation of oil commenced in 1957 at the present day Oloibiri in Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa State. Indeed, due to serious attention paid to petroleum, which serves as the main stay of the economy, Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) was established, to oversee the sale of petroleum products and refineries were also built. It was a dream come through for robust development of the economy, human and capital development of the country. But the reverse is the case as the region that produces the oil is grappling with under development. NNPC head-quarters is not found in the region. And the parastatal is seen to be the conduit pipe for officials of government to enrich themselves to the detriment of the citizens whose expectation is massive development.

The National firm, NNPC was set up with good intention. Nigeria is the sixth producer of petroleum in the world. And most of the countries that solely depend on petroleum had diversified their economies beyond oil. Countries like United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Angola etc have diversified their economies with revenues that accrued from the sale of oil. And they have the revenue to develop other sectors of their economies. Today, many people across The world fly to United Arab Emirate for business transactions. And their economies do not feel much impact of the fall in prices of oil.

Today, Nigeria’s economy is shaky because of the oil prices. Many Nigerians have spoken against the policy of over dependent on oil as a nation. For about six decades now, Nigeria is constantly depending on oil without serious diversification of the economy. And that alone has affected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Nation. Nigerians are worried about the state of the economy; even as federal and state governments are facing the challenges of paying civil servants salaries and embarking on serious infrastructural projects. Indeed, there are countries in the world that do not depend on oil and yet they are surviving in this Era of fall in oil prices.

Indeed, the Nigeria’s political economy should be developed and sustained for effective and efficient implementation of government policy on diversification programme. Nigeria should borrow a leaf from other countries and diversify her economy.

The new federal administration of the country headed by President Mohammadu Buhari, should embark on aggressive diversification of the economy. The Mono-economy run by Nigerian government should be jettisoned as it is a threat to future development. The revenues accruing from oil should be used to develop agriculture, health, science and technology and education sectors. It is observationally clear, that Nigeria imports her produced petroleum products. And that alone is a menace to diversification of the economy. More refineries should be built to boost the revenue earning of the nation.

Diversification of the economy is a long awaited dream of many Nigerians. Serious minded Nigerians should be appointed into positions of trust. People of impeccable character should be given opportunities to head administrative position in NNPC. Petroleum is a non- renewable resource. Therefore, a monumental Petroleum Building should be built at Oloibiri in Bayelsa state for posterity sake. It will be a compensation and recognition of the contribution of Oloibiri to the development of National economy. That alone will foster good relationship between the oil communities and the government.

Indeed, it is time for Nigerian governments to develop her economy beyond oil to foster rapid development of the country. If this is done there will be no fear about the fall of oil prices that is threatening the national economy. ###

 

FRANK ENEAWAJI OGWUONUONU

08028901682

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