Why Nigeria’s diversification agenda is stalled, by Odeyemi

Odeyemi-2Despite the lofty goals of economic diversification agenda, Nigeria’s inability to create wealth and employment from the value chains and the anticipated choices for natural resources through processing were devalued by the nation’s poor investment and implementation, Former National President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Chief John Odeyemi has said.

According to Odeyemi, the much expected results and effects of economic diversification have eluded the nation across the sectors due to policy summersault by different government and powerful local and foreign interests, affecting business ownership and continuity of operations, lagging infrastructure, poor articulation of the technical and financial requirements, benefits and the value chains and political interference in choice of management and daily bureaucratic delays to decision making.

Odeyemi, in a lecture delivered at the this year’s Fellows’ luncheon of Institute of Directors (IoD), noted that while Nigeria lags in economic diversification, the world had moved on and the global concentration on innovation, science, technology and ICT had expanded the field of diversification.

He added that deregulations, liberalisation and public-private collaboration is now of essence for effective diversification of the economy.

To address some of the challenges, Odeyemi urged governments to explore and expand inter-State relations, strengthen regional competitiveness by maximising economies of scale, regional optimisation of assets and endowments and mitigation of afflictions and natural disasters.

“Other potential areas for inter-State collaboration include transport infrastructure to facilitate market linkages, education, market development, human capacity building, security and intelligence sharing, among others.

“It was in realization of this that Lagos and Kebbi States signed a Memorandum of Understanding a few weeks ago. Kebbi State is the largest producer of rice in Nigeria, while Lagos State, the most populous state in Africa, consumes rice, mostly imported rice, worth N135b annually. With this partnership, which covers food production, processing and distribution, Lagos State and Kebbi State have taken steps to explore our areas of comparative advantages to achieve food security for Nigeria and save our foreign exchange”, he added.

He explained that while all states of the federation have resources in minerals, agribusiness and tourism, educated people in varying degrees as well as a growing number of middle and upper middle class that form a good base for purchasing power, there has been little effort by previous governments to implement the diversification agenda.

“Whereas all previous governments mentioned diversification in their plans, no determined and unwavering efforts were made for implementation. Policy summersault – mainly when governments change and also in response to significant inflow or outflow of foreign exchange has been the order of the day, even as Nigerians remain in hurry for results and their perceived anger, selfish and feeble criticisms tend to lead government to back out from progressive and long-lasting pursuit of policies”, he decried.

The solution, according to him, requires all hands on the deck, with various government policy makers, professionals, trades and association working in the same direction – to seek and concretise opportunities for wealth creation, job mobilisation for gainful employment and self sufficiency.



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