Nigeria’s mono-product economy unsustainable ― Omo-Agege

As Nigeria government explores alternative sources of funding to expand economic advantage for her operations the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has said Nigeria’s economy will attain great heights of development if the economy was diversified and the mono-product economy practice jettisoned.

According to him, the country’s reliance on oil is not only unsustainable but also incapable of creating jobs and building enduring infrastructure that would support rapid economic growth which is the desired of all Nigerians for national prosperity.

This was contained in a statement signed by Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, to the Deputy President of the Senate, Yomi Odunuga.

According to the statement, Senator Omo-Agege, stated this in Abuja when he played host to a delegation of the Africa Atlantic Gulf of Guinea Fisheries (AAGGF), led by Patrick Osobose.

The lawmaker applauded the group’s initiative of planning to establish an industrial fishing and associated seafood production in Nigeria.

This, he noted, would create opportunities for unemployed Nigerians, even as he tasked the group to liaise with the Amnesty Office for optimal result.

On the opportunities the programme will create in the Niger Delta region, Omo-Agege said: “The Niger Delta is pretty much a shadow of itself. And ever since we have been scrambling to see how we can bring back some of these oil companies with assurances that the circumstances that led to their exit no longer exist.

“We are still in the process of doing that. And now without prompting, here you are seeking to come to the Niger Delta to do what we have been craving the oil companies to come back to do with the kind of investments that you are proposing. We are very happy about that.

“We will give you our support because this fits into the President’s agenda of lifting over 100 million people out of poverty.”

Earlier, the lead consultant, Patrick Osobose, said the purpose of the visit was to brief the Deputy President of the Senate of the project and seek the support of the National Assembly.

He pointed out that the project is a joint venture of a consortium of Greek and Nigerian partners seeking to establish industrial fishing and processing plants and depots in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country.

He lamented that foreigners exploit the country’s lack of enterprise on territorial waters to perpetuate illegal fishing activities.

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He said: “We came with a Greek consortium that is part of the AAGGF platform. AAGGF brings different expertise under one platform for the take-off of this project.

“Right now, we are at the take-off stage. We have been at this for three years. Hopefully, it will commence in the first or second quarter of 2020.

“It will reduce our foreign exchange exposure. The country is spending $1.5billion yearly importing fish. If we come in, we can’t singlehandedly reduce it but we start the process of reducing that number and saving the country millions and billions of dollars annually. More companies like this will come up as a result of it.”

Also speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang who was also part of the delegation, noted that the project which part of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) was in line with the present administration’s deliberate effort to diversify the economy beyond oil.

“The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Fishery and Aquaculture country profile of Nigeria of updated in 2017, said Nigeria fish import was about USD 1.2 billion and exports valued at USD 284 390 million in 2013, making Nigeria a net importer of fishery products.

“It also said Nigeria estimated annual per caput fish consumption was 13.3 kg in 2013 and fish represents an important dietary element and one of the few sources of animal protein available to many Nigerians.

“In 2015, the total fisheries production was estimated at 1,027,000 tonnes, to which marine catches contributed 36 per cent, inland waters catch contributed 33 per cent and aquaculture 31 percent. Fishery sector contributed to 0.5 per cent of national GDP in 2015.”

The organisation also stated that fishing is a major source of livelihood for many Nigerians.

“According to the report, in 2014, 713,036 were reported as engaged in inland fisheries with 21% of this total women. 15% of the total 764,615 people engaged in other fisheries were women in 2014.

“According to the report, more than 80 per cent of Nigeria’s total domestic production is generated by artisanal small-scale fishers from coastal, inshore, creeks of the Niger Delta, lagoons, inland rivers and lakes. The small migratory Bonga (Ethmalosa Fimbriata) is the principal catch.

“Some initial progress has been made in developing an industrial fisheries sector, but the fleet and infrastructure are ageing. The main species from marine capture fisheries are sardinella,” the report stated.

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