Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday mandated the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), to lead the drive for the Federal Government’s economic diversification programme through its Zero- Oil in Nigeria Plan.
Osinbajo gave the directive when the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Chief Olusegun Awolowo, paid him a visit and presented the “achieving Zero-oil in Nigeria’’ plan.
The vice president said the presentation was comprehensive and timely considering that President Muhammadu Buhari had presented the 2016 budget of N6.08 trillion to the National Assembly and harped on economic diversification to fund it.
He said that focusing on agriculture and petrochemicals might be a good way forward in the diversification and urged NEPC to develop step-by-step approach on how to achieve the plan.
Osinbajo restated Buhari’s determination to improve the revenue of the country through non-oil sector in order to depend less on oil revenue adding that the administration would encourage all organisations to key into the plan.
“I certainly look forward to working with you on this,’’ Osinbajo declared, adding that such plan was long overdue in the country.
Osinbajo said NEPC had a major challenge of ensuring the implementation of the plan but called for synergy among the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to achieve the objective.
Awolowo told State House Correspondents that “this is a plan that we think will really help Nigeria out of the doldrums we now face.
“We are facing a drop of revenue of over $30 billion; our revenue from oil has fallen from$70 billion to about $40 billion; That alone can kill a country if we are not careful.
“This government has put in place that our number one priority is economic diversification’’, he said.
Awolowo said that NEPC is the apex agency for the promotion of non-oil products in Nigeria.
“So, we have come up with this zero oil plan which we are getting the stakeholders’ buy-in all over, and which our minister will formally come and present to Mr President.’’
According to him, the plan is to scale up production on many of the products, agricultural products and petrochemical products, that Nigeria has comparative advantage and take them out to the world and trade internationally.
“We are looking at sectors; the minimum sector we a looking at targeting is $20 billion; so if a product is trading below that, we are not interested in it.
“That is our zero-oil plan and let’s target and take Nigerian products to the world, to the international markets, so that we can earn foreign exchange.
“We are looking at scaling up our non-oil exports to almost $30 billion by 2025. So the zero oil plan is what we must sit down, what we must do, for example, on petrochemical products.
“We are looking at scaling up production to almost some 10 million metric tons of petrochemical products.
“We can do that. Why? We are a petrol economy. The by-products of this we are not trading it internationally. And that is the only way we can get out of this present economic crisis.’’
Awolowo said NEPC was also targeting cocoa production and value addition.
“The powder and everything being traded is a $30 billion market. So we need to first scale up production of cocoa and then we now start processing and then exporting. Because we are still exporting raw thing, the hubs, we are on 250,000 metric tons. That is nothing.
“In all these, we are going to work with the Ministry of Agriculture that has already started the process. We are now going to give them figures. We are now going to give them the market where they can sell these products too. We are also going to work with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) to target investments.’’
The NEPC boss said that the country had been the largest recipients of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the last seven years.
“But FDI comes into Nigeria, it is coming into oil and it is coming into trade funds. We are now saying that FDI must come into manufacturing and industry; that is the only way that we get value addition; that is the only way we can create jobs; and this is key.
“The zero oil plan is the solution to Nigeria’s problems.