Published On: Thu, Nov 17th, 2016

Diversify Nigeria’s Economy, Diasporans Advise FG

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By Dipo Awojobi – The Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Americas (NIDOA) has advised the Nigerian government to focus on developing the several economic potentials of the nation rather than depending on crude oil alone as a way of solving the nation’s numerous challenges.

According to a White Paper that was released after a World Conference hosted by the Calgary chapter of NIDOA and co-signed by the Chairman, Continental Board of Trustees of NIDO Americas, Mr. Samuel Adewusi and the General Secretary, Reginald Obiamalu, the five key topics emphasised at the World Conference include; infrastructure (energy and transportation), diversification of economy, education, labour and employment, law and regulation, as well as banking and investment.

The 2016 Americas World Conference (the “World Conference”) of NIDOA was held at the Sheraton Cavalier, 2620 32nd Avenue NEN Calgary, Alberta Canada from September 1 to 4, 2016,  where experts spoke on different areas of the nation’s development.

The Nigerian government was advised to refurbish facilities and focus on upstream financing, while they added that gas business can stand alone leveraging on existing and expanding infrastructure (the SEPLAT example).

Participants at the conference agreed that Nigeria has become a mono-economic nation due to its focus on revenues from oil and gas, and that other industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and solid minerals have huge untapped potentials.

The potentials, according to them, include the cassava industry as it was agreed that Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world.

“Cassava starch is a multi-million dollar business utilized in several industries including the textile, soft drink, packaging, paper, adhesive, food and pharmaceutical industries. More than 93% of these starch requirements of the country was imported.

“According to a study from the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Development (CSAD), Nigeria can earn an estimated $87 Billion a year from investment in cassava cultivation and processing before the year 2020. The huge size of Nigeria’s 173 million population offers a unique opportunity. The continuous global appeal towards cleaner alternatives fuels support investment in ethanol production from cassava starch,” they said.

They said further that the Nigerian poultry industry is estimated at N80 Billion ($600 Million) and that Nigeria is the largest egg producer in Africa and the 2nd largest chicken producer after South Africa. Therefore, a necessary and an urgent pivot to assist the poultry industry is overdue.

It was suggested at the law and regulation session of the conference that the FG should not appoint state police commissioners amongst others to ensure balance of power.

They added in the White Paper that in Canada, sports yield approximately $3.4 Billion in annual spending by domestic travelers alone, and stressed that if used intentionally in Nigeria, sports can help to address a range of community priorities such as community building, health promotion, youth engagement, economic revitalization, and newcomer settlement.

Nigerian government was advised at the conference to invest in production plants, storage silos, processing apparatus in the farmlands and in the farmers targeting younger people and use of technology, provide cost-effective transportation for harvests from farm-gates to processing plants.

On education, it was recommended that the country should develop a new 21st Century-oriented National Policy on Education (NPE), increase funding and promote efficiency.

It was suggested that the government should engage public participation in law-making through open houses and written consultation processed with the public and other stakeholders such as industry and public libraries and that debates in the House of Representatives and the Senate be regularly recorded and published.

On banking and investment, it was emphasied at the conference that proper governance, both through government and financial institutions, is paramount to ensure sustainable access to low interest loans to spur small and medium enterprises, and to hasten the development of local  businesses.

It was also revealed that there is $20Billion fund to assist in heavy infrastructure development of Nigeria including floatation of Diaspora notes, a money market instrument with the flexibility of the money market, open ended with a return that will make it attractive to Diasporas across the continent. NIDOA urges the National Assembly to pass an enabling bill to provide legal backing to the initiative.

“NIDO Americas is not only providing professional advice to the Nigerian goverment, the organization is also independently embarking on its own projects and initiatives,” the paper added.

To fulfill its mission and objectives, NIDOA  embarked on important and substantial developmental projects such as provision of investment fund, local manufacturing of simple agricultural machineries, organising IT Seminar, and IDP Vocational Training Empowerment Project.

“Since January 2016, NIDO Americas has worked tirelessly with all stakeholders to help rebuild Nigeria as evidenced by several projects and initiatives.

“For example, NIDOA introduced a Free 3-Day Information Technology Seminar for young graduates at the Abuja International Conference Center. The IT Seminar was held from July 27 to July 29, 2016. Due to popular demand, the NIDOA Trustees resolved that the IT Seminar will become an annual event.

“In addition, NIDOA forged partnership with the Nigerian Ministry of Education to plan a large Multi-Vocational Training Empowerment Project for the Internally Displaced People starting in fiscal year 2017,” the paper added.

Furthermore, NIDO Americas initiated a Design Project to create a template that will help to manufacture simple agricultural machineries locally in Nigeria.

Recently, NIDO Americas created a Working Group to actualize Diaspora Saving Scheme that will be leveraged into an Investments Fund to targeted sectors of the Nigerian economy.

Moreover, “in answer to the call by the Distinguished Senate President Bukola Saraki, NIDO Americas set up a Bill Drafting Committee with other stakeholders to draft bills to spur national development. All bills drafted by the committe will be forwarded to the relevant committees within NASS at periodic intervals,” the paper stated.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora,  Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, was the guest of honour at the event, while the Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, Mr. Ja’far M. Balarabe, who was represented by the Head of Chancery, was the host of the day.

Speakers at the events included the President of the Nigerian Poultry Association, Lagos, Nigeria, Dr. Ayo Oduntan, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on F.C.T, Federal House of Representatives, Abuja, Nigeria, Hon. (Deacon) Sergius Ose Ogun,  CEO, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, Lagos, Nigeria, Mr. Austin Avuru, President and CEO, Canadian Sport Institute, Calgary,  Alberta, Canada, Mr. Dale Henwood, Professor Ayodeji Jeje of the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada amongst others.

Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Americas (NIDO Americas) is the umbrella, not-for-profit organisation, for all Nigerian professionals in four countries within the American Continent with 18 chapters in the USA, two in Canada, one in Brazil and one in Belize.

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