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Shun importation, invest in Agric, experts tell Tinubu

By Adekola Afolabi,
Victor Akinkuolie &
Kayode Olabanji

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Economic experts have called on government at all levels to invest in agriculture as a way out of over dependent on importation.

The experts urged the federal government to reduce import of non essential goods and sensitise Nigerians to patronize made in  Nigeria products in order to increase local productivity.

They attributed the nation’s poor economy to the monolistic economy being operated by the country coupled with the fact that the country depends largely on importation.

 The experts called on the country to look into its export market and identify products that it can export and earn foreign exchange, saying this will close the country’s debt and revamp the economy.

While saying the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy is agriculture, they said a good economic team will do well in salvaging the current situation in the country by looking at areas of comparative advantage including Red Gold project across States and develop them.

Apart from making the country’s currency stronger, they opined that it will make the country self-reliant and boost her economy as well as prevent unnecessary borrowings.

The experts who spoke with The Hope in a separate interviews said diversification of the economy is the only way to salvage Nigeria’s external debt.

Those who spoke with The Hope include: Prof. Adewole Adeyeye of Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, (OAUSTECH, Dr. Tajudeen Olarewaju of Bamidele Olumilua University of Science Education and Technology, Ikere-Ekiti, an Economic expert, Dr. Adeola Alonge and Elder Fessy Olabode, a management consultant.

Prof. Adewole Adeyeye said reduction in the cost of governance as well as diversification of the economy is the only way to salvage Nigeria’s external debt.

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He said cost of governance should be reduced as well as the diversification of the economy in addition to debt rescheduling.

A Senior Lecturer at the Bamidele Olumilua University of Science Education and Technology, Ikere-Ekiti, Dr Tajudeen Olanrewaju, suggested the need for Nigeria to embark on wide agricultural system.

Olarewaju who is also a member of Board of Trustees of the Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (FACAN), explained that Nigeria’s agricultural sector  has the potential to generate over $50 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) if there is proper investment in the sector.

The don who lamented the 90 percent of Nigeria’s revenue used for servicing external debt, noted that Nigeria urgently need to develop its productive sectors like agriculture to end over dependence on foreign goods.

He equally suggested the need to build stronger economy through agro-commodity value chain development and international cooperation.

“The government at all levels, both state, local and federal need to do more to attract more private investors to the country so as not to rely more on the external debt,” he advised.

An economic expert, Dr. Adeola Alonge, Director, Investment Promotion and Management, ONDIPA revealed that using the revenue that should be injected into the economic development to service debt is not a good thing.

Alonge called on the policy makers to look into its export market and identify products that it can export and earn foreign exchange, saying this will close the country’s debt and revamp the economy.

While saying the mainstay of the Nigeria’s economy is agriculture, Alonge said good economic team will do well in salvaging the current situation in the country by looking at areas of comparative advantage including Red Gold project across States and develop them.

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He equally advised the federal government to give good incentives to the productive sectors and tax holidays to boost the economy, while reducing interest rates for investors to encourage them.

“And if you look at the government spending over time is on the high side, and we discover that the revenue we are generating is not even sufficient to meet our expenditures. There is revenue-expenditure gap and when you have expenditure exceeding your revenue it tends to create a kind of budget deficit.

“So, for you to stabilize the economy, you just have to go into borrowing to close the gap between your budget deficit so that you can have a budget surplus. So, when you now get a loan from international community to service your deficit so as to close the gap between your expenditure and revenue, then you now talk about the debit servicing in Nigeria.

“Now, if you look at the debt servicing ratio to revenue, it is 9 to 1. What we mean by 9 to 1 is just that, majority and probably 90 percent of the revenue we generate is used to service our debt so that we keep sustaining the debt level.

“And the moment you keep sustaining your debit level, the implication is that other critical sectors of the economy will have to wait. The health sector will wait, the agric sector will have impact from that, the economic sector will also wait, and all other critical sectors, meaning that there will be no progress in those sectors. They just have to wait because of debt servicing sector so that you can get more debits.

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“Year in year out, we have been operating deficit budget in Nigeria. We have not operated surplus budget. And if you don’t service your debt such that to meet up to the budget of the coming year will be a problem and the economy of the country will be in comatose. So, we keep our budget servicing afloat at the detriment of other critical sectors of the economy.

“So far so good, Nigeria is an Import substitute economy, we live on importation. The import and export ratio is not the same; we import more and export less and that is why our foreign exchange earnings are diminishing. That is why the exchange rate is fluctuating years in years out. We are importer country, not exporter country”, he stressed.

Elder Fessy Toba Olabode, a Resources Management Consultant and Financial advisor based in Akure, urged the federal government to stop further borrowing, reduce import of non essential goods to the barest minimum, sensitise Nigerians to eat Nigeria, drink Nigeria, wear Nigeria and sleep Nigeria, and also Increase local productivity while embracing honesty.

President Bola Tinubu had told executives of the Nigeria Bar Association (MB) at their annual conference in Abuja that servicing Nigeria’s external debt with 90 percent of the country’s revenue is not sustainable.

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