Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has advised that Nigeria must move fast to diversify its economy else it will end in regret. He said the days of crude oil as Nigeria’s major source of revenue are numbered.
“We must be smart and act intelligently and fast,” he said.
The vice president stated this on Monday, January 16, in when he visited Gbaramatu kingdom in Delta State as part of his peace mission to the Niger Delta region.
After meeting behind closed doors with leaders of Gbaramatu at the palace of the Pere of Gbaramatu kingdom, Oboro Gbaraun II Aketekpe, Osinbajo while speaking to a large crowd told the people that the future of the oil industry is full of enormous challenges.
He said: “In another 20 to 30 years, our oil won’t be as precious as it is today and that is reality? America has stopped buying oil from us. All the countries of Asia that buy oil from us are building alternative means of power, China and Japan are developing electric cars. In fact, Japan has more charging stations than petrol stations. Solar power is getting cheaper.
“The Niger Delta of today is one where aside environmental degradation, between 1998 and 2015, over 20,000 persons have died from fire incidents arising from breaching of the pipelines.
“To prepare for a great future for the Gbaramatu kingdom, three things must happen: we must recognise the unique environmental challenges the Niger Delta is facing, we must also recognise that the Niger Delta is a special economic zone for this nation so we must treat it as a special development zone.”
According to him, this means that the federal and state governments as well as the National Assembly, NDDC and civil societies representing Niger Delta must come together on a round table and map out a strategy for rapid development.
“There is no excuse for not planning together. The federal government cannot solve the problem of Niger Delta. It is impossible for the FG to do it alone. The state should devote a substantial portion of its budget to this special project,” the Vice President said.
He added that the critical areas the federal government is bothered about is infrastructure, disclosing that in the 2017 budget, “we have provided for the commencement of the Lagos–Calabar rail way which will go through Delta.”
“We are working with the Chinese on this project. When I leave here we will visit the site of the Maritime University. The president has directed the ministry of petroleum to work quick to see to the realisation of all of the objectives of implementing this crucial educational institution.
“Establishing this university has passed the second reading in the National Assembly and I know we have the commitment of the members of the national assembly to fast track this bill so that the maritime school will be completed as soon as possible.”
Osinbajo explained that the maritime university which is expected to start fully in September this year and other government projects cannot become functional without enough revenue which is being frustrated by militants and pipeline vandals.
“If there is no revenue, we are deceiving ourselves. There must be revenue and it can only come when there is peace. There should be commitment to peace,” he stated.
He further said that the PAN Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has submitted a detailed list of 16 issues for dialogue that will help in ascertaining key development priorities, noting that “it is an important working document that represents an excellent road map to the future of Niger Delta.”