The Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, emphasised the significance of shifting focus from oil to non-oil sectors in order to secure Nigeria economy for the long term. Diversification into mineral resources, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and technology is key to achieving this sustainable growth. During his speech at the 6th Senator Abiola Ajimobi Roundtable and 74th Posthumous Birthday celebration, hosted by the Senator Abiola Ajimobi Foundation in partnership with the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan, Abiodun emphasised the evolving shift away from fossil fuel globally. Consequently, he highlighted the urgency for Nigeria to explore alternative income streams proactively.
As previously stated, he emphasised the ongoing shift towards renewable energy globally, indicating the necessity of proactively expanding the economy beyond fossil fuels. This could be achieved by venturing into multiple sectors. It is noteworthy that Nigeria possesses an impressive list of over 40 commercially promising mineral and natural resources, which remain largely untapped by its government and citizens. Experts estimate the worth of Nigeria solid mineral reserves to be in the range of $1 trillion to $5 trillion, although there is no concrete data available to verify these figures.
Ogun State contributes significantly to the country’s natural resources.
Considering his state, Ogun State, as an illustration, it boasts a number of more than 15 natural mineral resources abundantly available throughout all its local governments. However, only limestone, granite, and laterite are being actively extracted. In fact, they hold the title of being the foremost producer of solid mineral resources in Nigeria, contributing to a remarkable 32.04 metric tons or precisely 37.6% of the entire national output. Consider the endless potential that arises when a nation begins to explore a multitude of solid minerals, such as gold, lithium, tantalite (a vital mineral for electronics production), tin, barite, and more. The opportunities become boundless, mainly if they focus on enhancing the value chain within the borders.
His statement on the roundtable’s theme, ‘Re-engineering Nigeria for Sustainable Development: Options, Costs and Prospects,’ conveyed the significance of various elements in propelling economic diversification and growth. Mentioning youth involvement, partnerships with international organisations and neighbouring nations, embracing technological advancements, and fostering innovation, he highlighted how these factors could accelerate progress. Abiodun expressed his concern about Nigeria excessive dependence on oil exports, highlighting that it jeopardises its mono-economic structure as it becomes increasingly unstable in response to unstable oil prices caused by supply and demand fluctuations, market influences, acts of vandalism, and rampant oil theft.
Inadequate infrastructure should be tackled for economic diversification.
He stressed that revitalising Nigeria for lasting progress is a complex and diverse undertaking, expressing hope in the country’s ample resources and young population as a strong basis. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that tackling issues like inadequate infrastructure and the need for economic diversification is crucial. The governor asserted that Senator Ajimobi, who has sadly passed away, possessed qualities that were both essential and benevolent. He was not only gifted and a remarkable communicator but also achieved early triumphs in the oil and gas sector through sheer diligence. His rise as a formidable force in politics, driving development, is an exemplary path for others to follow.
Chief Adebayo Adelabu, the Minister for Power, disclosed during his keynote speech that the nation’s problems could be traced back to deficiencies in both leadership and fellowship. Despite Nigeria plentiful resources and the commendable contributions of proficient individuals in leading various international institutions, the country remains significantly distant from achieving development owing to the dearth of effective leadership skills. He expressed his concern over the exit of several multinational companies from Nigeria due to the country’s expensive business operations. He stressed the urgency for Nigeria to shift its attention towards education, youth empowerment, technical skill training, reinvigorating the healthcare and energy sectors, and addressing leadership and cooperation challenges.
Citizens are not yet benefiting from the country’s abundance of wealth.
During the event’s commencement, Tajudeen Akanji, the event’s moderator, addressed the audience by highlighting a glaring disparity within the nation. He pointed out that despite the country’s abundance of wealth, its citizens are not reaping its benefits, and poverty continues to plague the land. Akanji emphasised that revamping the country requires a comprehensive approach, encompassing widespread access to quality education, equitable income distribution, a strong middle class, an efficient administration, robust social services, and a deep-rooted commitment to upholding the rule of law.