Oil Money Took Nigeria Attention Away From
Agriculture & Solid Mineral -NNPC Boss
The Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru, has lamented that Nigeria with oil ought not to be economically backward if the country had emulated countries like Qatar, Norway, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The Nation
Baru, who stated this while delivering a lecture at the 40th convocation ceremony of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, said countries like Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates that had taken the right steps at the right time are already thriving on sector-specific development such as the Financial sector of Bahrain, Airlines and Logistics in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, Downstream Petrochemicals and Mining in Saudi Arabia, and the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SME) Sector in Oman.
Before the discovery of oil in 1956, Nigeria was famous for her agrarian economy through which cash crops like; palm produce (oil and Kernel), cocoa, rubber, timber. Groundnut e.t.c were exported, thus making Nigeria a major exporter in that respect.
Baru while tracing the evolution of Nigeria’s economy pointed out that, unlike Qatar and others who used oil dollars to jump-start and diversify their economy, Nigeria abandoned its previous economic mainstay after the exploration of the oil.
According to him, “The advent of oil production, other natural resources of economic value such as tin, columbite, limestone, Iron ore, and coal had been explored and produced. These mineral resources in addition to cash crops were the country’s export commodities and serve as the revenue base of the economy.
As time goes by, Agriculture that was known as job for the assiduous and the affluent in the developed part of the world was relegated to the job of the peasants and less the privileged. Things changed quickly as oil boom brought about distortion in our production and consumption patterns, which gave a false twist to the Nigerian economy. Agriculture and mining which were the primary drivers of the economy were relegated in the 70’s for crude oil which now makes the country a virtual mono- product economy.
Citing the Qatar’s example, the NNPC GMD pointed out that, Qatar has the third largest proven natural gas reserves and is the second-largest exporter of natural gas in the world, making it among the global top seven richest economies based on GDP per capita.
In his words, “Today, Qatar’s economy is still thriving quite well despite the GCC blockade. The secret is a simple one, Qatar has over the years used its oil and gas resource to jumpstart other sectors of its economy. These included setting up of autonomous free-zone business districts, fertilizer and methanol plants and the recent drive in tourism. They have also developed agriculture towards food sufficiency.
Also, Trinidad and Tobago has been involved in the petroleum sector for over one hundred years, but today the country’s economy is primarily industrial, thanks to its huge petroleum reserve, especially natural gas. Trinidad and Tobago’s success story is linked to the judicious utilization of its resources in developing the industrial sector.
While it could be argued that Qatar’s oil and gas resources spin-off to her financial sector, manufacturing, and tourism made the country beneficiary of trade surpluses. For Trinidad and Tobago, economic diversification has made her the wealthiest in the Caribbean and the third richest country by GDP per capita in the Americas after the United States and Canada.
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