Over the years, oil, sometimes called “black gold” has been good to the economies of countries that have it, and have it in abundance too. Indeed, it has brought in huge revenues to the coffers of the oil-producing countries, as well as lift some of these countries from backwater economies to that of thriving metropolitan centres of business and technology.
In Nigeria, we have tacitly mismanaged this opportunity and at wasted some of the huge revenues from the sales of this God-given wealth.
However, some good things were done with the oil revenue such as the seaports, high-rise buildings in most cities across the states, railways, roads, hospitals, schools and the construction of a new Federal Capital Territory in Abuja among others. All these infrastructural developments were made possible with oil revenue.
What would have happened without revenues accruing from oil? Probably, we might have been poorer than the so called poor economies today. Or maybe, as a nation, we would have been more creative, innovative, and productive as well as prudent in spending or managing the resources gotten from other sources other than oil. Nigeria’s anticipated revenue from petroleum is about $52.2 billion (2012 GDP: $451 billion). This accounts for about 11percent of official GDP figures and drops to 8 percent when the informal economy is included in these computations.
Therefore, though the petroleum sector is important, it remains a small part of the country’s overall vibrant and diversified economy. It is against this backdrop that the country has to look beyond crude oil for an enduring and holistic development, the benefits derived in the past notwithstanding. Looking beyond oil is not a vote against oil, but only a sensible search for a path to a more sustainable development.
To achieve this kind of development, agriculture and solid minerals can be opened up. While we can boast of huge deposits of crude oil, there are even bigger deposits of different types of solid minerals across the country.
Most Nigerian states however, are blessed and sitting on vast quantities of minerals like Tin, Kaolin, Tantalite, Barite, Iron- Ore and Uranium. Others are Zinc, Gold, Silver, Lead and other precious minerals in large commercial quantities. The solid mineral sector if developed could help to combat poverty in Nigeria via job creation, especially given its forward linkage with other sectors of the economy. But more significantly, it could help alleviate some of the problems associated with “enclave” nature of the Nigerian economy that has for too long been vulnerable to fluctuations in global oil prices. However, the government must create an enabling environment for the private sector to take the lead in the sector as well as strengthening existing solid mineral development policy.
Aside this, the misgivings by critics on some areas of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, which is designed to reposition the oil industry and to make it more competitive and profitable for all stakeholders, namely the government, the host communities, and the oil companies, will be largely needless as every section of the country will have some resources that are very beneficial to their localities and the country at large.
Reports that the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has said that he would shift attention from oil to agricultural and mining sectors to create jobs, is encouraging and we urge him to maintain the momentum of the exiting administration. It is also worthy of note to say that the economic reforms of the past decade, particularly under the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, have put Nigeria back on track towards achieving its full economic potentials.
For instance, the results of the latest rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP, the first in almost a quarter of a Century, confirm that the country’s economy has grown in total value and undergone significant changes, including substantial diversification in many sectors, especially in the last decade. It is ranked 26th in the world in terms of GDP nominal: 30th in 2013 before rebasing, 40th in 2005, 52nd in 2000, and is the largest economy in Africa based on rebased figures announced in April 2014.
And it is also on track to become one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020. Nigeria’s economic analysis changed to account for the growing contributors to its GDP, such as telecommunications, banking, and the film industry (Nollywood). And as a result of this, Nigeria has added 89 percent to its GDP, making it the largest economy in Africa.
Thus, as a matter of priority, the President-elect must encourage the ongoing diversification efforts of the economy. This is the most viable way to survive the current environment of global economic uncertainty. Since it is a known fact that for a country to attain growth and development its economy has to be diversified, a mono-economy needs to give way to the more productive development of various sectors of the economy.
The obvious outcome of diversification is that Nigeria will not depend on oil for 95 percent of its GDP. It will also mean that, with a robust and diversified economy, Nigeria will join the ranks of more economically diverse and industrialised nations like the United States of America, China, Japan and India.

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