Nigerian leaders must take tough decisions to grow the economy- Ambode





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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on
Thursday said that for Nigeria’s economy to improve, its
leaders must have the courage to take difficult and tough
decisions.
Governor Ambode who spoke at the 1st National Forum on
Economy organised by Vintage Press Limited, publishers of
The Nation Newspapers, said the nation’s economy was at
a critical threshold and thus, will require its leaders to think
outside the box and come up with creative innovations that
will trigger economic growth nationwide.
He lamented the fact that previous governments at the
federal level failed to take advantage of the oil boom to
grow other sectors of the economy, saying that the fall in
price in the international oil market coupled with many
years of corruption has made the economy vulnerable.
“It is very unfortunate that we wasted the golden
opportunity to deploy the trillions of dollars earned from our
oil exports to develop the critical sectors of the economy
including power, agriculture, industries, solid minerals,
transportation infrastructure among others. No doubt, if
we had done the right thing as some other oil producing
countries did, keeping in mind that crude oil is a finite
resource, we would not be experiencing the devastating
effect of oil price crash on the scale we are experiencing it
now.
“We are now being forced to do, with pains, what we
should have done with ease years ago. The task of charting
a new direction for the economy is not going to be a tea
party. Various policy options must be identified and
assessed on the basis of our current situation and needs.
Moving our economy forward requires thinking outside the
box and doing things differently. We need creativity,
innovation and the courage to take difficult and tough
decisions.
“The leadership of the country at national and state levels
must have the courage to take tough decisions and make
sacrifices in the near term which will, in the long run, make
our economy stronger and sustainable and, consequently
result in prosperity across all regions of Nigeria,” he said.
Recommending strategies to improve the economy,
Governor Ambode said that the nation must begin to
explore and expand the opportunities that abound in inter-
State relations and strengthen regional competitiveness by
maximizing economies of scale, regional optimization of
assets and endowments and mitigation of afflictions and
natural disasters.
He listed other viable areas for inter-State collaboration to
include transport infrastructure to facilitate market
linkages, education, market development, human capacity
building, security and intelligence sharing, saying that it was
high time to move away from an oil driven economy.
“Prior to the oil boom era, Agriculture was the mainstay of
Nigeria’s economy and contributed about 65 per cent to the
country’s GDP and represented close to 70 per cent of total
exports. Through farming, Nigeria was able to feed its
population while major cash crops were exported to earn
foreign exchange.
“From the cocoa and rubber plantations in the West, the
groundnut pyramids and cotton in the north, to palm oil in
the east; each region was identified by its economic areas
of comparative advantage which were collectively
harnessed towards ensuring food security and inclusive
growth across the country.
“Given our current economic challenge, I believe it is time
we take a cue from our old ‘playbook’ for a viable ‘game
plan’ to revive our national economy. States and regions
must once again begin to leverage on their respective areas
of comparative advantage by establishing partnerships
towards establishing inter-State or inter-regional
commodity value chain. We must re-start inter-state/
regional cooperation,” he said.
Governor Ambode said that Lagos has already taken the
bull by the horn with its recent partnership with Kebbi State
aimed at developing a commodity value chain that will see
the local production of 70 per cent of Nigeria’s rice needs
with a multiplier effect that will ensure job creation, the
development of ancillary industries as well as strengthen
the Naira.
The Governor however added that for regional integration
to thrive a functional modern rail and water transportation
system must be in place, noting that movement of goods,
materials and people by road was not only inefficient but
fraught with risks, safety hazards and detrimental to the
roads.
In his keynote address, Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor
Yemi Osinbajo said the Federal Government would soon
commence work on the Lagos-Kano and Lagos-Calabar rail
routes, as well as 31 major road projects across the
country, just as he stressed the commitment of the current
administration to give a quantum leap to infrastructural
development.
The Vice President, however, commended the initiative of
Lagos and Kebbi States in collaborating to ensure self
sufficiency in rice production in the country, saying such
collaboration between States will engender economic
growth.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Chairman of Vintage Press
Limited, publishers of The Nation Newspaper, Wale Edun
said the forum was put together not just to lament the
challenges facing the country but for government and
members of the critical sectors of the economy to
dialogues and chart a way out.
SIGNED
HABIB ARUNA
CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY

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