Speaking at an audience with the outgoing Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Nigeria, Mr. Jaroslav Siro, Jonathan declared that his administration was committed to moving the Nigerian economy away from dependence on crude oil exports by promoting the development of the country’s non-oil sectors.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the president said in keeping with this commitment, the federal government was actively exploring all avenues of boosting trade and economic relations with other countries in areas not related to the oil and gas sector.
“With current developments in the world, we are more interested in diversifying our economy, not in over-emphasising oil and gas exports. Our intention is to move our country away from being a mono-product economy that depends primarily on oil exports. We are fully committed, therefore, to boosting non-oil trade relations with other nations,” he told the outgoing Ambassador.
The president commended Siro, who had served in Nigeria for about five years for his efforts in enhancing bilateral relations between Nigeria and the Czech Republic, which resulted in the tripling of the volume of trade between the two countries.
Although, the Czech Republic did not import crude oil from Nigeria, the annual volume of non-oil trade between the two countries currently stood at about $100 million US Dollars.
Siro informed told President Jonathan that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at strengthening the trade and economic cooperation between the Czech Republic and Nigeria was currently being finalised.
He said his country’s Minister of Trade would soon visit Nigeria to sign the MoU and attend a meeting of the Nigeria-Czech Republic Bi-National Commission.
In another development, stakeholders have advocated the rapid transformation of the non-oil sector through the revival of agriculture, solid minerals, manufacturing and raising the Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) profile of states.
The stakeholders, who rose from a two-day zonal advocacy workshop on economic diversification and enhanced revenue generation organised by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in Gombe, Gombe State yesterday, said the diversification of the country’s economy from oil was what the country needed at this point in time.
A communique issued at the end of the meeting, had warned that the country’s continued dependence on oil and gas revenue and its inability to diversify its economic base in spite of the abundant natural and human resources available at its disposal had made the economy vulnerable.
This, it said, had led to various socio-economic challenges as well as high rate of unemployment, budget deficit, infrastructural gap and increasing debt profile as well as poverty level and insecurity.
Stakeholders were unanimous on the fact that all the tiers of government were currently confronted by financial challenges and shortfalls in revenues required to fund their various developmental programmes to satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of the citizenry.
The communique further urged the government at all levels to devise strategies aimed at improving their internally generated revenues and strengthen their legal, regulatory and institutional framework as well as provide the enabling environment to attract local and foreign investors to promote economic diversification and enhanced revenue generation.
While commending the RMAFC for organising the advocacy workshop, participants called on the commission not to make the workshop a mere academic exercise but seek implementation of decisions and programmes on diversification in order to improve the economy.
Participants at were drawn from the North-east geopolitical zone comprising Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe States.
Information from This Day was used in this report.