ABAKALIKI – There is a bitter , but inescapable reality awaiting the Nigeria Nation; it is the very fact that the crude oil dependent economy the Nation is currently ru5nning is not in anyway sustainable. Many economic pundits have posited that in the nearest future oil would become a thing of the past in Nigeria. The implication is that failure to take actions towards building a non oil dependent economy would spell doom for the nation.
Unfortunately, too many Nigeria leaders are too busy enjoying the billion dollars being generated from oil to think of how to prepare for the difficult days that must come.
That is why Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Umahi deserves to be applauded for his commitment towards preparing Ebonyi for the challenges of post oil economy.
Those who have been to Ebonyi State can attest to the unprecedented and massive developmental efforts of the governor towards sustainable development in the 23 years old state.
During his first tenure, many political commentators said the governor was doing the many life touching projects in the state just to end a second term. But no sooner the governor won a second term than he outlined and began many other life changing projects to wit; Standard International Airport, International Stadium, A new Teaching Hospital, Additional flyovers ,dualization of sections of Abakaliki-Enugu and Abakaliki-Afikpo federal roads and many other human capital development initiatives in the state.
Many political observers both within and outside the state have been wondering the motive behind the governor’s uncommon commitment to the development and greatness of Ebonyi State even in the face of a very meagre resources.
However, the 59th Founders Day Lecture of the University of Nigeria,Nsukka(UNN) which held on Tuesday 8th October 2019, offered the Chairman of the South East Governors Forum the ample opportunity to eloquently and very comprehensively explained to the world the reasons behind his commitment to quickly develop Ebonyi State.
Umahi who was the honorable quest lecturer explained that his target was to build laid a foundation for a state economy that can survive without oil.
“My vision is simple; to build a state economy that will thrive even when our income from crude oil goes to zero”.
Governor Umahi who spoke on the topic : Preparing Ebonyi For Tomorrow’s Zero Oil Economy, noted that it was sub- optimal for Nigeria to be using its oil wealth to fund recurrent expenditure, which promotes a dependency culture that stifles innovation, creativity and productivity and also encourages a bloated governance system with the attendant high cost of governance.
He opined that the nation could actually survive without dependence on oil even as crude oil continued to dwindle.
Umahi explained that one way to make Nigeria survive without relying on oil and even grow faster was to ensure that all revenues from oil were being channelled to infrastructural development and human capital development.
He said “statistics has shown that oil economy is not the greatest precursor of job creation, food security and general economic growth, instead it breeds low standard of living, it widens the gap between the poor and the rich and brings about economic imbalance and encourages unemployment.
“With a nation of over 180 million people, the only way out is economic diversification or zero oil initiatives by government.
“This is coupled with the fact that new technology is evolving, where engines or machines are manufactured to function without oil.
“There is pressure on Federal allocation; there is alternative energy source like solar and wind energy that may further crash the price of oil.
Umahi further noted that his leadership in Ebonyi State anchored strongly on Agriculture, development of viable SMEs through economic empowerment and grants to willing citizens as well as aggressive infrastructural development and security were aimed at preparing the State for an non oil economic future.
“Our administration, from day one is working on the premise that one-day oil will go or lose its value in the market.
“We are working on the stack reality that one day, Federal allocation will diminish or worse still extinguish and the world would have moved forward without oil.
“Ebonyi state does not have her oil reserve yet developed and does not enjoy 13% derivation.
“In planning for tomorrow based on our conviction that one-day oil will become history, we focused on the following Programs: Solid Infrastructure, Agriculture, Solid mineral, Human Capital Development, Tourism, water Production, Entrepreneurship, Vocational Development, Education, Health, industrialization and Security as critical sectors that will drive our initiative on zero oil economy.” He said.
He commended the University and its management for sustaining the ideals of the founding fathers as a great citadel of research, innovation and manpower development.
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Charles Igwe described the Lecture as “the most prestigious of the public lectures that take place in the University of Nigeria.
He noted that it was an ideal platform for discussions on topical issues of national and international relevance, adding that the event was not only about celebrating the past, but preparing for the future.
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