Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said Nigeria’s “excessive dependence” on oil revenue contributed to the collapse of the other contributing sectors of the economy – mainly agriculture.
Abubakar noted with concern that since the discovery of oil in 1956, other sectors of the national economy have been suffering a setback.
In a policy paper entitled, “Moving Nigeria Beyond Oil”, delivered to Nigerians in diaspora at an International Conference at the London School of Economics on Wednesday, Abubakar said the country’s over-dependence on oil produced many unforeseen consequences, including what he called “wealth without labour and producing a generation of youth aspiring to be employed rather than thinking of how to create jobs for themselves.”
According to the former vice president, the over-reliance on oil revenues has virtually destroyed the initiatives by the state governments to double efforts towards improving their internally generated revenue sources.
He commended the Lagos State Government under Governor Babatunde Fashola for being able to generate 50 per cent of its revenues from internally generated revenue sources, which he said reduced its undue dependence on federal subventions.
Abubakar, however, observed that corruption is the worst consequence of Nigeria’s over-dependence on oil, compounded by the lack of transparency and accountability in the oil industry, which was exposed by the various investigative reports.
He said inconsistent production figures and what is actually coming into the government coffers is a reflection of the absence of accountability and transparency.
Abubakar also regretted that the oil industry contributed little in terms of direct employment relative to its contribution to the government revenues.
On the way forward, the former vice president said if other oil producers such as Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Japan, US and Canada could reduce their dependence on oil and diversify, Nigeria could do the same.
He said there is no reason why Nigeria cannot produce technology that assists oil exploration and exploitation.
He also said that there is no reason Nigeria should not refine its own petroleum to meet domestic demand and for exports.
Abubakar said Nigeria should take the initiative to be a leader in the production of petrochemicals and petroleum derivatives, including plastics, polymer, fertilizer, motor oil and other allied products.
He also recommended that the government should provide the incentive for massive private sector investments in solid minerals exploration, an area in which the government has identified 34 minerals in commercial quantities.