Buhari’s Plans to Steer Economy Back to the 70s with Agric, Minings

Back in the days, the pride of Nigeria was agriculture. Then the nation’s economy was one of the best in the world— an economy whose currency was actually stronger than that of the US and somehow at par with the powerful pound sterling of Britain. That was achieved with earnings that came from agriculture.
But with the advent of crude oil, Nigeria’s economy slumped, as it’s evident in the weight of the Naira today.
But President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria is going back to the days of agriculture, adding mining to it.
Analysts have applauded the policy direction, giving their own tips on how the new president could actualise his dream.
Wale Abe, chief executive of the Financial Market Dealers Association of Nigeria (FMDA) investment in agriculture will bridge the gap between consumption and production of agricultural products.
But he warned that the needed investments can only come if the Federal Government provides the enabling environment, structure and support that is required.
He hints at the fact that governments world over no longer have business in business than to act as guide for successful business to run smoothly.
Abe also advised that for the Buhari-led government to match actions with his promise on reviving agriculture, the long standing issue of land tenure system must be resolved as quickly as possible to give investors in the sector needed confidence to come in.
As it were, the land tenure system ensured that all lands belong to the Federal Government, a situation that will scare serious investors in agriculture.
He also advised that agriculture should be made part of Nigeria’s educational system, particularly in vocation area.
Abe, however, said, as the mining sub-sector is presently, there is need for it to be structured, lamenting that it is highly unstructured as it were.
Mining in the northern parts of Nigeria is carried out by mostly individuals with crude implements, and often run into health problems, with many of them dying from infections.
BIsmark Rewane, economic analyst and managing director, Financial Derivatives, in his own views said, the agricultural sector, which happens to be one of the underperforming sector, can only be turned around with more seriousness on the part of policy makers in the country.
Rewane pointed some of the challenges in the sector to include under-investment, low productivity, inadequate input, poor manpower and productivity, and an unfavourable exchange rate policy, among others.
For now, services, which employ very few people is the largest sector of the economy, accounting for about 50 per cent of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). One of the fastest growing segments in services are information and communication, which together account for about 10 per cent of the total output, whereas agriculture, which in the past was the biggest sector, now accounts for a mere 20 per cent.
Crude Petroleum and Natural Gas constitute only 11 percent of total GDP, while being the main exports. Industry and Construction account for the remaining 16 percent of GDP.
In April of 2014, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revised the country’s GDP from N42.4 trillion in 2013 to N80.2 trillion in 2014. As a result, Nigeria’s output grew by 89 percent, making the country Africa’s largest economy, ahead of South Africa.
The new GDP structure now gives greater weight to fast-growing industries like communications and entertainment as activities like production of motion pictures, music, sound recording, publishing, arts, entertainment and recreation were included. But agriculture was relegated.
Main changes to the GDP structure: services sector grew to around 50 per cent of total GDP from 25 per cent, manufacturing, which used to account for two per cent, now stands at seven per cent, mining and construction sector account for around 20 per cent, half of the share under the old structure; while the weight of agriculture declined to 20 per cent from more than 30 per cent
What the General is possibly aiming at, is to ensure frivolous monies spent on agriculture and its products particularly is saved and used to develop agriculture and other critical sectors.
For now, Nigeria is still a net importer of agricultural products, as it imports N630 billion worth of fertiliser annually, a fact attested to by Sanusi Lamido, former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, now Emir of Kano who added that Nigeria has lost its dominant position in the export of key agricultural crops like cocoa, groundnuts, groundnut oil and palm oil, since 1960.
“In the 1960s, Nigeria had over 60 percent of global palm oil exports, 30 percent of global groundnut exports, 20-30 percent of global groundnut oil exports and 15 percent of global cocoa exports. By 2000, Nigeria’s global share of exports of each of these crops was five percent or less,” Sanusi said.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesiina, former agriculture minister, while addressing the National Assembly during the ministerial screening stated that in 2010 alone, the nation spent a staggering N635 billion on wheat importation, another N35 trillion was spent on rice importation, N217 billion on sugar importation and N97 billion spent on fish importation.
He went further to state that Nigerian farmers have had a tough time with banks, as only one per cent of total lending in banking sector goes to agriculture, a sector that accounts for 70 per cent of employment opportunities and 44 per cent of the nation’s GDP.

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