Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State has endorsed the ‘Zero Oil’ plan initiative as one of the best steps to take in the country’s pursuit to diversify Nigeria’s economy away from the monolithic product of oil.
He made the declaration while receiving the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr Olusegun Awolowo and his management at his office in Minna, on Thursday.
According to the governor, his state and probably other Nigerians have “always known the right path to take in changing the economic narrative of the country, but lacked the courage to take the bull by the horn. With the situation we have found ourselves – the economic downturn necessitated by continuous slide in price of oil, we have no option than to turn to agriculture and exportation. And Niger State is blessed with several of these key products, including rice, soya beans, cotton and gold, among others.
“But I advise that you involve the private sector and identify strong international up-takers for us to be able to succeed.”
As an immediate demonstration of support for the initiative Governor Abubakar constituted a high powered seven-man committee made up of Director-Generals of relevant ministries in the state, under the leadership of the Commissioner of Industry & Commerce to strategise, identify at least three products for exportation and synergise with NEPC for that purpose. He charged them to turn-in their report within a month.
The official visit to Minna was part of the nationwide engagement strategy by the NEPC to create the buy-in of stakeholders and investors on the government’s vision to put behind Nigeria’s overdependence on crude oil, in line with the current administration’s agend a of restructuring the economy as a way to reducing dependence on crude oil exports.
Mr Awolowo, while presenting the ‘Zero Oil’ plan to the governor, emphasised the use of exports as a core economic driver of the country – in job creation, increased investments and growth in government income, which would lead to macro-economic stability through foreign exchange inflows.
Awolowo validated that the economic miracles the Asian countries within a single generation were primarily anchored on export orientate industrialisation, which led to increased revenue, drastic reduction in poverty and inclusive growth – all of which the ‘Zero Oil’ plan is expected to achieve for Nigeria.
He underlined that “Nigeria needs to deepen her footprints on manufacturing for export, upscaling the production of items, where Nigeria has comparative and competitive advantage in the global market.
“Even leading oil exporting countries the most recent being Saudi Arabia have introduced national plans to stop their over-dependence on oil, Nigeria must do the same.”
“The ‘Zero Oil’ plan has set a longterm goal of earning 20 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (that is, approximately $100 billion) from non-oil exports. The initial target, however, is to exceed $30 billion in non-oil exports over the next 10 years (starting from $5 billion today).
“States have an important role to play in Nigeria’s export diversification plans – the reason NEPC has also introduced the one-state-one-product initiative to encourage states’ involvement in exports and scale-up production of selected items of exportation.”