Pat Utomi, a professor of political economy, says Nigerian leaders have done little to diversify the country’s economic base.
Utomi said this in Abuja on Friday in an event marking the launch of the Rebuild Nigeria Initiative (RNI) themed “Nigeria succeeds, Africa succeeds, the world is better”.
RNI is a coalition of concerned Nigerians globally with a mission to advocate and facilitate peace dialogues.
Utomi said the youths are the major advancers of the economy in any country but the Nigerian government had failed to invest in the education and other sectors that could motivate them.
“The word diversification, if you do a content analysis must be the most used word in budget broadcasts in Nigeria. For more than 30 years I have heard, that the object of policy is to diversify our economy away from monocultural dependence on crude oil. I mean, I have heard it so many times that it is like playing in my head,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we’ve done very little in that direction and it has assumed a new urgency because the world is going through an energy transition and the energy transition that means that crude oil, forgetting that it’s a finite resource, but in 10-12 years from now, as close as that few cars will run on petrol and so we’ve got to put our hydrocarbons endowment to other kinds of uses. It could not be the staple that we have today and who will be in deep crisis.”
Utomi said Nigeria is one of the African countries where natural mineral endowment has continued to be a problem.
“Very importantly, even if that were not to happen, what crude oil has done to us because we know the diversified base is so frightening. But, you know, most of Africa’s problems have come from a mineral resource endowment. People have fought over easy money and have become poorer whereas they could have used to produce.”
Earlier, Ituah Ighodalo, chairman of the RNI, said Nigeria is in precarious times, characterised by fault lines borne from ethnoreligious conflicts.
The chairman also urged well-meaning citizens to come together to accelerate progress towards a new Nigeria where the rights and wellbeing of the people are prioritised.