On numerous occasions, Nigeria’s depleting oil reserves have been extensively discussed as the unrelenting reduction without replacement has become worrisome.
Nigeria is blessed with abundant natural resources but the fact is the huge deposits of these resources do not corroborate with the level of development garnered since independence.
This shows that one does not need to be told that the monster called corruption is responsible. It means that wealth without industrialisation, and without probity will result in technological and economic under-development.
Yes, we have iron ore, bitumen, granite, limestone, marble, coal, clay, zinc, among others, but are we producing enough for local consumption and export? Are we effectively using our coal to generate electricity and liquid fuel?
Nigeria has a wide diversity of soil; the northern soil is good for the production of groundnut, sorghum, cowpea and millet. The interior zone made up of sand and clay soil is useful for the production of cotton. The southern zone is good for the production of crops such as cocoa, oil palm and rubber. Alluvia zones found along flooded plains of rivers, deltas and coastal regions can grow wheat, rice, maize, soya bean, cotton and the like. Our soil is great for growing all sorts of crops, so, what else do we need?
Being endowed with a plethora of natural resources is not a prerequisite for economic development. A case of Japan, a mountainous, volcanic island country that exports automobiles to all nations of the world comes to mind – her power of industrialisation, bears noting. Similarly, Singapore, with no or little natural resources shows the world how a tiny island can become one of the world’s most prosperous and advanced economies. Singapore had to import everything it needs, including water from the neighbouring Malaysia. Can we learn from it?
At the moment, there is a rising attractiveness of producing electric cars. From Europe to America to Asia. A majority of these advanced countries are considering a ban on the sale of gasoline-powered cars. If this happens, what is Nigerian’s fate on the sale of oil? The nominal Gross Domestic Product contribution of oil to the Nigerian economy may be as high as 70 per cent, for an import dependent economy like ours; the implication is grave. Oil companies may lay off workers, reduction in the sale of oil, and the country’s debt profile may increase. A huge sick government balance sheet looms.
Nigeria is not short of options but she is bereft of true leadership. A leader who can guarantee security and safety of investors and stakeholders; a leader who can provide adequate power supply eluding us for decades, and a leader who can eradicate multiple taxation, as well as ensure that business is conducted in a transparent and ethical manner. Such a leader will also be expected to provide an enabling fiscal and regulatory environment for small and medium businesses to thrive, and ensure the country’s uncultivated soil is cultivated.
It is high time Nigeria diversified her economic base beyond policy pronouncements, to non-oil production and other untapped minerals.
Are Nigerians having a robust and concrete vision targeted at living without oil? The country’s paradigm shift, a diversification of her economy is fundamental if we must avoid the doldrums of sword of Damocles swinging. Then, when push comes to shove, Nigerians will be largely reaping the reward of her preparation.