By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun has listed ways for Nigeria to get out of the current economic recession.Aregbesola spoke at the weekend during the one year anniversary and first annual lecture of The Point Newspapers held at the Eko Hotel, Lagos.
At the lecture with the theme, The Economics of Change, the governor said Nigeria must cut its dependence on foreign goods, increase local production and enhance entrepreneurship, adding these would help save the local currency which currently carries too much pressure.
Aregbesola expressed regrets that despite the huge opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, Nigeria has failed to make use of the opportunities.
Also at the event were the Emir of Kano, Dr. Sanusi Lamido, Sanusi, Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo.
The governor said it was disheartening that Nigeria depends too much of foreign foods which is killing agriculture.
He said, “We should also cut the importation of food to less than 25 per cent of the current volume. This is to enable us develop agriculture. It has been the policy of our administration since day one to promote food production in order to be able to feed our people. It is really shameful that in spite of our endowments in natural resources, we are still dependent on imported food items as a nation.”
The Governor queried why Nigerians should continue to rely on buying and selling noting that Nigeria’s investors have short ends of the sticks. He added, “The most successful and leading enterprises in the country are owned largely by foreigners, with our people being minority shareholders. A system where it is easier to prosper and succeed in business through buying and selling is inherently anti-development. Entrepreneurship training should be part of education at all levels.”
Harping on agriculture, Aregbesola said farming should now be knowledge-based adding “There must also be a transition from producer of primary goods to value adding. Adding values create a value chain that increases the momentum of development.”
He explained that the value of one kilogramme of cocoa beans Nigeria exports is multiplied 5,000 times by the time it imports it as chocolate.
“If we can make the same quality of chocolate, we could have earned 5,000 times the value we derive from cocoa beans in a value chain that includes revenue generation, wealth creation, job creation and spiralling effect of developing ancillary industries around this product.
The governor gave the instance of the disappearance of tyres manufacturing companies in Nigeria lamenting that with the huge number of tyres needed in Nigeria, no single tyre is manufactured in the country.
“By importing, we are simply developing the economies of the nations we buy from through job creation, value chain maintenance, capacity for product development and other spin off effects of production.
“You can imagine that there are seven million vehicles on our roads and we do not produce a single tyre for them. If the average lifespan of a tyre is three years, then every three years, we need 28 million tyres, working on the assumption that an average car has four wheels. We must then find a way to import 28 million new or used tyres. We can imagine what effect it would have on our economy if we produce just half of these tyres at home.”