Experts chart part to economic diversification, growth
Experts have urged the government to intensify efforts on economic diversification agenda to stimulate economic growth. The professionals, who decried the slow pace of diversification, said Nigeria still pays lips service to the drive, even as fiscal federalism has rendered the system unproductive.
Speaking at a three-day Professor Pita Ejiofor yearly lecture, as part of the 2019 Faculty of Management Sciences International Conference of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, the keynote speaker, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, said the diversity of soil, climate and vegetation provide basis for diversified economic activities, competitive sub-national resource exploration and fiscal autonomy of each region.
Delivering a paper titled, ‘Issues and lessons on Nigeria’s economic diversification’, Nwankwo, a former Director-General of Debt Management Office, Abuja, asserted that these regional efforts would help to generate revenue to finance its development projects and programmes while contributing to the federal treasury for the running of the common services.
He said: “In essence, revenue base of the entire economy would be highly diversified because it would be a combination of a diversified range of revenue sources from the various sub-nationals, based on their varied natural resources.” He said that Nigeria’s experience in exploring the federalist state is a negation. Hence, its failure to appropriate the best out of its abundant resources.
Nwankwo said: “A country that is practicing federalism should, therefore, naturally incline towards economic diversification but the subsisting arrangement in Nigeria works against that expectation and renders the system a sharing one rather that a producing one.
“The sharing formula has nothing to do with useful contribution to the revenue, but is rather based on such factors as population, school enrolment and land mass. The economic system encourages allocation and sharing rather than production and saving.”The noticeable effect, he noted, is that “states get lazy about developing and depending on internally generated revenue and neglect diversification of their revenues. This behaviour is a variant of Resource Curse generated in a disjointed federal system like Nigeria.
“It would be noticed that there is asymmetry in Nigeria’s federal system while the political arrangement is federalism, the economic arrangement is essentially unitary. Therefore from the perspective of the nature of Nigeria’s federalism, the economy is not diversified. The unitary arrangement in the conceptualisation and management of Nigeria’s economy, particular oil economy, is a major factor inhibiting economic development,” Nwankwo said.
The Vice Chancellor of Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, Prof. Seth Accra Jaja, corroborated Nwankwo, adding that diversification of the economy would see the country out of economic summersaults being witnessed year in year out.
Jaja, who delivered the paper on the topic, “Changing face of management sciences: Implications for Nigeria’s economic diversification’, said “Nigeria will face economic obituary by 2030 if it failed to diversify”.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Charles Esimone, said the theme of the lecture reflects Nigeria’s current economic predicament.The theme, he said has been informed by the country’s inevitable economic predicament, a situation predicted by vulnerable dependence, to the neglect of other resources, on the export of crude oil, among other forces.