Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Thursday declared support for the African Continental Free Trade Agreementand urged Nigeria to sign the agreement.
He made the declaration during the second National Committee on Export Promotion Meeting in Lagos.
He said: “Nigeria is one of the two countries left to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement; typical us, we were going round the country sensitising and to know whether we should join.
“We should have joined since yesterday. We should show leadership. The whole of Africa is waiting for Nigeria to show leadership.
“If we have the largest GDP and have overtaken South-Africa, what are we waiting for? The fact is that if we want to begin to export, we must be the champion of Africa.
“We must be the Germany of Africa. If we do not drive the economy of Africa it would not drive itself. Africa must sell to Africa first, that should be the cornerstone of our export policy.”
He commended the Federal Government for establishing the zero-oil policy, saying that it would boost the nation’s balance of trade.
The governor also called for subsidy on other commodities to reduce cost of food for Nigerians, adding that it was possible since rice subsidy has been successful.
Ambode said beyond commodity export itemised in the zero-oil policy, Nigeria should evolve mechanism to export Afrobeat, arts and fashion, which were in high demand in the global market.
According to him, the country should put in place infrastructure and institutional frameworks to drive its zero oil policy to success that will translate to wealth for the country.
Olajide Odewale, the Secretary, National Economic Council, said no economy could survive with just one commodity; hence NEC took the initiative to drive economic diversification through the zero-oil plan.
He said the federal and state governments partnered through the plan to enhance economic growth, boost foreign earnings, reduce poverty among Nigerians and create jobs.
According to him, the zero-oil plan seeks to increase the foreign reserve to 150 billion dollars in the next ten years and create additional 500, 0000 jobs.
He said it was also expected to lift 10 million Nigerians from poverty and integrate each state of the federation into the export value chain.
Olawale said the government would continue to invest in critical infrastructure and create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
Tunde Akande, Senior Special Adviser to the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Development Finance, said the apex bank would replicate its Anchor Borrowers Programme for export promotion.
He said the programme had recorded tremendous impact on smallholder farmers, boosted value chain economy in various local communities and increased sustainable participation of the private sector in agriculture.
He said as at June 23, N89.5 billion had been disbursed to 398, 704 farmers and supported 10 different commodities across the country under the programme.
Olusegun Awolowo, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, said the zero-oil plan was an export revolution that involved every state playing a significant role.
Awolowo said: “The zero oil plan aims at earning at least $30 billion from non-oil sources in the near to medium term as against the current earnings of about $5 billion.”
Awolowo said major oil producing nations were planning their economy beyond oil export, and Nigeria must not be left behind.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the zero oil plan is aimed at restructuring the nation’s economy to survive without crude oil, and NEPC is responsible for driving the nation’s export market.
The National Economic Council constituted a committee for the plan towards improving Nigeria’s non-oil exports in 2017.
The committee is made up of Governors Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos) and Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment; Agriculture and Rural Development, Power, Works and Housing, Transportation and Finance.
Others are NEPC, NEPZA, NEXIM Bank, and CBN.