Covid 19: Time to diversify Nigeria’s Economy – By Abba Dukawa

Following the collapse of crude oil prices from 2014 to date , which triggered unpleasant memories to  Nigerian government which  found itself in unchartered waters. Since than It continues to struggle to revive the economy amidst dwindling oil revenues compounded by unemployment, poverty and insecurity and due to over defendants on one major government revenue the country   remains weak and fragile -being outstripped by population growth.

Who to blame for this mess up:   Provocative policy of the Nigerian government is the dependence on oil resources as a source of foreign exchange earnings to the detriment of agriculture despite the country is blessed with untapped  mineral resources. With  outbreak of the coronavirus, which has puts global economics in uncertainty again, Nigeria’s economy is being caught in the cross-hairs.

Nigeria the so called  Africa’s largest economy cannot currently fund its budget due to Covid 19 because budget passed with a benchmark oil price of $57 per barrel—nearly double its current price of around  $28, knowing fully government relies heavily on petrodollars. It is now unarguably, the collapse of oil prices not only pose a strategic danger to the global economy but it has been danger to Nigeria’s economy development and also a  catalyst behind nation  domestic predicaments. 

Absolutely there is lack of foresight from our leaders for not  save as much as possible especially when the crude oil price reached its peak but Nigeria Forex reserve is $37billion and can finance 4months of imports max and Nigeria technically has $2,2billion.

Even  before Covid 19 pandemic Saudi threw OPEC members under the bus because Russia refuses to cut production to prop price up. Saudi flooded the market and offered discount to buyers. Russia refused production costs because it thinks; cuts empower Shale producers in America. Now Nigeria have about 50cargoes of oil floating on international waters without buyers. A cargo contains about 2 million barrels of oil. 

Now Nigeria is facing severe  challenges. Oil price volatility is accentuated by rising commodity prices, possibly  the devaluation of the naira against the U.S. dollar. Time for economy diversification

Notwithstanding federal government trying to diversify the  country economy but  non-oil sector growth has not translated to improvements in government revenue.  There is no state in Nigeria with less than 10 untapped different   mineral resources. Regards to diversification of the economy there is need for Federal government to develop the country untapped mineral.   Despite this huge opportunity still   domestic mining industry is underdeveloped, leading to Nigeria having to import minerals that it could produce domestically.

According to 2018 report of geology and mineral resources of Nigeria  estimated Nigeria’s iron ore deposit to reach three billion tonnes, coal, three billion tonnes while lead and zinc are to reach 10 million tonnes each. If  Federal Government can make a lot of money from mining if well exploited and  invest into   coal, gold, tantalite, and cassiterite to shore up revenue. Just from  iron ore experts says Federal Government can make $280 billion from iron ore annually more than what the country earn from crude oil. The country will set itself free unless federal government  develop the country untapped mineral  industry, modernise the agricultural sector and  develop the tourism industry.

Wrote in from Kano

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