April 24, 2024

Don asks FG to diversify from oil-dependent economy

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Don asks FG to diversify from oil-dependent economy

Ini Billie, Uyo

Professor of Rural Development, Prof. Professor Nseabasi Akpan has urged the Federal Government to diversify from an oil-dependent economy to an agriculture-based economy, adding it would ginger rural development.

Speaking on Friday in Uyo during the 88th Inaugural Lecture of the University of Uyo, on the topic, “Interweaving Rural Development with Economic Diversification: An Agenda for Nigeria’s 21st. Century Development”, Prof. Akpan advised the Federal Government to take proactive steps in the investment and revival of the agricultural sector.

Akpan who stated that Nigeria’s oil resources have been a major setback in moving the country forward explained that the challenges in the petroleum sector which have become the nation’s mainstay of the nation’s economy were enormous.

He mentioned the prolonged tension and conflicts in oil-producing areas and related inter-ethnic distrust, secessionist agitations, massive corruption and monumental destruction of the ecological environment among others as some of the problems of Nigeria’s oil economy.

He explained that there were several opportunities the country could gain in developing the rural communities, adding that the rural areas have the needed space and possibility for agricultural production.

The former Commissioner of the Ministry of Education, Akwa Ibom State said it was imperative that government focus on the agricultural economy, noting that agriculture holds the key to the economic growth of any nation.

He called on politicians and the organised private sector and entrepreneurs to invest in rural agriculture as a means of empowering the youths to check poverty and unemployment.

He advocated for the provision of infrastructure such as a good road network, steady power supply, agricultural processing centres, water and functional schools and hospitals, adding that these critical infrastructures were central to promoting agricultural production.

Prof Akpan called on the three levels of government in the country to make budgetary provisions for agriculture, with a focus on the rural communities, adding that his research on rural financial institutions established facts that the greatest challenge to productive engagement in rural development, was lack of access to necessary financial inter-mediations.

In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Nyaudo Ndaeyo, said the inaugural lecture was an academic tradition of the Institution which allowed the town and gown to interface to promote and appreciate scholarship.

Prof Ndaeyo who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, Prof Enoidem Usoro, described the topic as apt, saying it addresses the issue of agriculture as an enabling factor to play down the nation’s interest in crude oil production.

The VC said more benefits could be derived from investing in agricultural production as there was no community anywhere in Nigeria without land to engage youths in agric-business, unlike oil and gas production where expertise and technicalities are involved.

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