FG targets $150b revenue from non-oil sector in 10 years ― Awolowo

The Executive Director of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Segun Awolowo, has met with President Muhammadu Buhari to brief him on efforts to steer Nigeria away from dependence on crude oil revenues, saying that government hopes to realise $150billion in the next 10-15 from non-oil sources.

Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting in Abuja over the weekend, he said even though crude oil prices had risen because of problems in Iran, Nigeria must look inwards to enhance its revenue base.

He said 22 sectors have therefore been identified where Nigeria can earn more outside the oil sector including cocoa even as he regretted that smaller West African countries have overtaken Nigeria in the production of the commodity.

Awolowo said: “What we hope to achieve is to raise more revenue for Nigeria from other sources. You know 90 per cent of our revenue is from oil and we cannot survive.

“Even though oil prices are rising a bit because of Iran, there is a problem there. But we should not rest on our oars because those days of $140 per barrel are gone forever. So, we have to look inwards and produce more.

“The zero oil plan is about raising production and productivity. We identified 22 sectors where we can earn foreign exchange apart from oil.

“We are hoping that in the next 10-15 years we will be able to raise $150 billion from sources outside oil.

“That is what we are working on and we are galvanizing the whole states behind us in other to raise production and productivity.

“We are working with the relevant MDAs to achieve this. You know the CBN just announced an initiative on five of our products and giving them low-interest rates to farm and raise production.”

The NEPC boss said it is important that Nigeria begins to produce more as it cannot afford to be a dumping ground with its signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

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He added: “We are about to enter into the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, which is the biggest in the world. We don’t want to be a dumping ground and that is why Mr. President refused to sign until we are ready.

“We must be competitive, we must produce more, and we must help our manufacturers get into this market.”

On the briefing of the President, he stated: “I came to see Mr President to brief him on the zero oil implementation plan that what we have been doing. Because he had raised questions on where we are and now we are going to be able to really diversify the economy.

“I briefed him on the setting up of a national committee on export promotion by NEC chaired by the governor of Jigawa State and what we are working on in order to diversify the economy.”

On the President’s response, Awolowo said Buhari was pleased and assured the commission of continued support.

He further said: “The President was very pleased. He promised to give continuous support for this export. I thanked him that we have paid the backlogs on the export expansion grant. That is an incentive that we give to exporters.

“We owed them for several years but we have reversed the whole system and the President approved the backlog of N350 billion to pay them.

“The National Assembly has appropriated and approved N190 billion out of it so far and we are paying it through the Debt Management Office (DMO). They will get a certificate which they will use to cover their loans, debts, pay AMCON and pay taxes as well.

“I thanked him and I said this is a government that is doing more with less revenue and that really is the message I want to get across.”