THERE’S no denying the fact that, apart from corruption, one other main reason why Nigeria has found herself in this level of economic quagmire is the monolithic nature of our economy. Nigeria’s overdependence on petroleum since its discovery in 1958 has led us to this economic crisis such that a country that was once swimming in economic prosperity has now become a mendicant nation. What a sad reversal of fortune?
In view of this reality, it has now dawned on us all that except we diversify the economy we are clearly heading for the rock. The fall in the price of petroleum at international market, which has grossly affected our national income, has awakened us to the reality of the need for economic diversification and that’s why from federal to state; and down to local levels now, the leitmotif is economic diversification; with emphasis on agriculture.
As stated in the first paragraph, our failure to diversify the economy since and the humongous corruption that has characterised our politics has put Nigeria’s economy on the brinks of collapse. The effects of this near-collapse of the economy are seen in the worrisome level of unemployment, massive poverty, rising insecurity, all manners of criminalities arising from the need for survival at all costs and the hopelessness in the land generally.
For Nigeria to get back to the track of economic prosperity, agriculture has been identified as the recipe. It’s important to remind ourselves here again that the country survived sufficiently with agriculture as the mainstay of our economy before the discovery of oil. Then it was food sufficiency, life more abundant and peaceful coexistence amongst the various ethnic groups that made up the country. However, the reverse has been the case with our petrodollar economy. This is highly ironic.
No doubt the challenge before virtually all the states of the federation now is survival. Only one or two states can survive without going cap-in-hand to the Federal Government. And now that the national economy has dwindled survival as become more difficult for the states. The fact today is that apart from Abuja the seat of power, only Lagos state can be said to be economically viable. It’s the only state that can pass the test of survival without federal allocation. Not even the oil producing states since they are not in control of their resources. Of course no state does under our present fake federalism.
It is against the background of the above that states have started making frantic efforts towards viability. One of the states where such efforts are well pronounced and more visible is the state of Osun under Governor Gboyega Oyetola. Of course no sooner was he sworn in as the governor than he conveyed an Economic Summit to chart a new course for Osun’s economic survival. Along with conveying that summit, the governor also met with the business communities in Lagos; including visiting the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to acquaint them with the investment opportunities that exist in Osun. No doubt, the discussions and brainstormings at that summit have been yielding positive results in critical areas of the state’s economy viz: agriculture, mining, tourism and the rest. This has led to appreciable improvement in the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
The proposed establishment of Ethanol Plant at Egbeda ib Boripe Local Government area of the state is a great and commendable effort. The Plant, by the time it eventually berths, will, according to the government, generate not less than ten thousand jobs for the state. This will no doubt go a long way in reducing youth unemployment in the state. Also since plenty cassava is needed for ethanol production, cassava farmers will start to smile to the bank as the plant will surely boost cassava production in the state. Osun economy will generally be better for it.
Mention must also be made of Dagbolu International Market at Ikirun which was planned to be the commercial hub of the South-West. Just like the Ethanol Plant, the Dagbolu International Trade Centre (DITC) is also by projection, expected to generate ten thousand jobs for the state. The Trade Centre that will comprise open markets, shopping centres, industrial hub, Inland Ports, Warehouse etcetera will surely boost business and commercial activities that will eventually lead to economic transformation of the state.
The latest of Governor Oyetola’s efforts at turning Osun to an economically viable state is his recent visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he had gone to woo investors to the state. Amongst the groups he met is an investment giant, the MGT Group, a multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary firm that has promised to build a world-class specialist hospital in Osun as a way of complementing governor Oyetola’s giant strides in the heath sector. One prays they make good their promise. By the time such a hospital berths in Osun, her fortune will change in no small measure.
Finally and most importantly, Governor Oyetola, who understands the critical role good road network will play in actualising all these, is leaving no stone unturned at ensuring that road infrastructure doesn’t suffer neglect in the state. Roads are being constructed across the state so as to ensure availability of enabling environment for investments to strive. As governor Oyetola soldiers on in his efforts at shoring up the state’s economy, the cooperation of everyone (especially appertaining to tax payment by every taxable adults) is needed towards actualising his lofty dream for our dear state.
God bless the state of Osun.
God bless Nigeria.
- Kola Odepeju is Senior Special Assistant to Governor Oyetola on Public Affairs.