Since the recession of 2016, the country maintained an eleven-quarter steady GDP growth with the last announced status in the 4th quarter of 2019 being 2.55%. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the achievement was as a result of stable oil price and production volume within those quarters. They posited that should the price of oil nosedive, the economy will be jolted. Even the IMF has predicted that our economy may contract to -3.4% by the end of 2020 against the 2.93% projection.
Analysts already believe that the Nigerian economy is in recession due to the stagnancy caused by Covid-19 impact. In fact some insist that if the situation continues till year-end, we shall slide into depression. Although it is a global issue, the effect of lockdown and economic shutdown on third world economies and emerging markets like Nigeria will definitely have a negative multiplier impact on all aspects of life.
Policies and Schools of Thought have always voiced the danger associated with the mono-product economy of our country; over-dependence on oil as the main source of foreign exchange earnings advocating for urgent diversification of the economy to enable for absorption capacity in the event of any external shock. Successive governments have also advocated a series of policies geared towards diversification of the nation’s economy; yet these policies either fail flat at the implementation stage if it ever gets to that point.
The Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture advocates that the time to diversify the economy is now!
All the position papers, communiqué, and polices reeled out after hugely funded workshops and seminars should be exhumed for implementation.
It is now imperative for the government to channel all its energy and funding in the area of Agriculture, Manufacturing, Export, ICT, and massive Infrastructural development. States must be mandated to exploit commodities where they have a comparative advantage. Import substitution should become a national policy and a deliberate strategy.
All issues relating to power transmission; GENCOS and the DISCOS must be resolved expeditiously to catalyze a new wave of the industrial revolution.
That is the only viable way to commence determined steps towards economic diversification in Nigeria.
Pharm. Sir. Chris Ukachukwu