Federal Government has acknowledged that Nigeria has been rendered helpless by the crude oil industry and its price volatility.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, stated this during the national conference of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture.
Enelamah disclosed that the government had been consistent in its determination to restructure the economy adding that there was no better time to do that than now that the price of oil had gone down significantly.
He said, “Everywhere the President has travelled to, and at every opportunity he has had to speak to investors and businesses at home and abroad, he has reiterated the determination of this administration to ensure a long-overdue fundamental restructuring of the Nigerian economy. Our view is that there is no better time than now. (When the price of oil is hovering around historically low levels). This is one crisis we cannot afford to waste.
“Nigeria is a blessed country. And I’m not talking about the oil and gas from which we earn tens of billions of dollars annually; and the vagaries of which have rendered us near helpless, from a fiscal and economic point of view.
“Beyond all the natural resources, Nigeria’s seal of strength is the size and strength of its human resources- one of the youngest and most energetic populations in the world, full of optimism and entrepreneurial passion.”
According to the minister, apart from a huge and youthful population, Nigeria is also blessed with mineral resources.
Enelamah said, “Every state in Nigeria is blessed with abundant solid mineral resources. Current estimates suggest that there are no less than 44 mineral resources available in commercial quantities across Nigeria. The most prominent ones are bitumen, coal, iron ore, limestone, gold and tin.
“Let me paint for you a picture of what we can do if we pay attention to our solid minerals sector. First, we will create jobs; in a country that has such large pools of unemployed persons and needs to create millions of jobs annually just to keep up with population growth.
“Second, we will conserve scarce foreign exchange. Every year, we spend more than $3bn importing steel, despite the fact that we‘re sitting on enough iron ore reserves to meet our domestic needs for a long time to come.”
He added, “Third, we will speed up our efforts to close the country’s yawning infrastructure gap. As you might already be aware, one of the priorities of this administration is the provision of critical national infrastructure, with a focus on road, rail, power and housing.
“ There is perhaps no stronger immediate evidence of this than the 2016 Budget, which was recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, and which allocated N1.7tn to infrastructure, more than five times what the 2015 budget provided.”