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Prioritizing economic development for national security

As of today, oil accounts for almost 90% of Nigeria’s foreign revenue, leaving a paltry 10%

Nigeria is the most populous and the largest country in Africa with over 200 million people.

Before the discovery and exploration of oil, the hub of Nigeria’s economy was agriculture. But with the emergence of oil, there was a major focus shift from being an agriculturally-dependent country to a crude oil dependent nation. Alas, this marked the starting point of the country’s economic woes.

As of today, oil accounts for almost 90% of Nigeria’s foreign revenue, leaving a paltry 10% to other commodities such as agriculture and solid minerals.

With the fluctuation of oil prices and a subsequent sharp decline in the world’s oil price in recent periods, it is obvious that Nigeria’s over dependence on oil as a major source of revenue could be disastrous.

The latest version of National Security Strategy 2019, a document released by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), clearly stated that Nigeria is faced with a broad spectrum of economic threats and challenges ranging from global economic uncertainties to internal constrictions such as energy deficit, crude oil-related crimes, unemployment and poverty, among others.

One of the major problems of our economy is over reliance on oil, which has been coming back to haunt us. Over the years, little attention has been paid to developing non-oil sectors.

Thus, significant drop in oil prices shrinks our revenue earnings. And the effect is visible to all; less money for the government to spend and an undue pressure on the available foreign exchange.

Currently, 43 per cent of Nigerians live below the poverty line and another 25 per cent  are vulnerable.

It is time Nigeria promptly diversifies its economy and makes agriculture a priority, once again. More resources should also be earmarked for the production of commercial agro/food commodities such as rice, cocoa, oil palm, rubber, groundnut, and cotton. Other sectors including solid minerals should also receive the same treatment.

Again, Nigeria also needs to emplace sustainable measures to diversify its sources of energy, while investing more in nuclear, renewable and other promising innovative technologies. Adequate national security strategy should focus on how to curb and eliminate violence and crimes in the society, so as to create an enabling environment for investors and industries to thrive with a view to improving the economic well-being of the country.

Efforts should also be made to eradicate hunger, poverty and unemployment among teeming Nigerians, while at the same time, measures that will help in checking corrupt practices across various institutions in the country should be implemented.

Meanwhile, it is crucial to emphasise that Nigerians should be united and look beyond ethnicity, while unceasingly preaching the gospel of peace among themselves. This is necessary as nation building can only be achieved when the country is stable.

 

Mukhtar Ya’u wrote from Madobi, Kano State

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