The continuous fall in the price of oil in the international market, is no longer
news as it has now dawned on us that this situation will linger for long, even though, some believe it has not come to stay. With the increase in United State’s share of oil production, which stood at about 4 million barrels per day(mbpd), US (the largest importer of Nigeria’s Brent crude) has stopped importation of crude from Nigeria.
The resolution of the internal strife in Libya, which has led to triple fold production of barrels of oil from that country, has not helped the oil price either. The infighting among OPEC members, has not helped matters in salvaging the price of oil from nosediving. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are on oil price war, as they continue to lower the price of their oil in order to maintain their market share in Asia. With all of these emerging developments, the oil price is not likely to recover anytime soonest.
In view of all these, it is expedient for us to look inward with a view to working out ways of diversifying our economy so we can upturn it from total collapse. Thank God that we are blessed with fertile lands, tropical rainforests, good climate, abundant natural resources and above all, human resources to be able to turn our fortunes around for the better. All these our natural endowments are what most of the so called developed countries of the world do not have; as such, they envy us for it.
The agricultural sector can play a central role in the economic diversification process. It was the main stay of the country’s economy prior to the discovery of oil in Oloibiri in 1956 and it accounted for about 95% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
The agricultural sector provided and is still providing massive support ( produce and finance) to the economy including employment for a wide range of professionals and also raw materials and outputs for our industries; it provides food for man, food for animals as well as the processing and marketing of crops for exports which in turn generate income for the country. Which oil has been known for.
Obviously, Nigeria has what it takes to feed her populace and also generate income if all sections of the country are encouraged to massively engage in agriculture tapping into their various natural endowments and comparative advantage. For instance, the eastern part of the country is endowed with palm oil and coal. Malaysians took the Palm oil seedlings from Nigeria years back to their country for planting; today however, the product is the one sustaining the economy of Malaysia. The same can be replicated in Nigeria and it will yield greater results; but, the government must demonstrate the will power to make it work. Again, the western part of Nigeria is endowed with cocoa and this has been and still remains a major raw material in the making of certain beverages, so, it can be exported to earn substantial foreign exchange. The northern region is blessed with groundnuts as well as hides and skin, these are key in terms of manufacturing. These areas should be focused on and properly managed so as to address the problem of dwindling oil prices.
Other areas where we should focus our search-light on, for economic recovery and survival, are the entertainment industry, tourism, sports and solid minerals. Our education curriculum should also be redesigned to equip our youths in such a way that after graduation, they will be self-employed instead of going into an already saturated labour market.
The downward turn in the oil price of Brent crude is an eye opener and a lunch-pad for the long talked-about diversification from oil to a less volatile economic base. The efforts in the recent past in re-basing Nigeria’s economy and investment in the agricultural sector, must be commended, as it is a right step in the right direction. The expectation is that greater attention should be given to these sectors in the years ahead if the economy is to be returned to its glorious years.


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