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Overdependence on oil destroyed Nigeria's agriculture – Former Veep

Overdependence on oil destroyed Nigeria's agriculture – Former Veep


A former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has averred that the country’s over dependence on oil revenues destroyed their hitherto bustling and buoyant agriculture-based economy.

Speaking at the presentation of a book, titled “We Are All Biafrans” authored by one Chido Onumah, at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, Atiku in a speech said; ‘‘Excessive dependence on oil revenues led to the collapse of our agriculture-based economy. It also exposed the Nigerian economy to volatile market swings, booms and bursts.’‘

‘‘And it brought with it enormous social consequences such as wealth without labour, briefcase contractors and generations of youth accustomed to aspiring to be employed by others rather than thinking of creating jobs for themselves and others. It also led to the neglect of internally generated revenue, especially taxation,’‘ he added.

He bitterly bemoaned how despite its oil, Africa’s biggest economy was still lagging far behind its contemporaries who are also ‘blessed’ with the ressource. ‘‘According to the Human Development Index, 70% of our population lives below the poverty line compared to 21.4% for Brazil, 40.5% for Angola and 0% for Norway, to mention a few comparable oil producing countries,’‘ he posited.

He diagnosed the ‘oil curse’ phenomenon which he said had made Nigerians lazier, ‘‘As we became more dependent on oil revenues we became lazier, more complacent, and our leaders became ever more unaccountable.’‘

Atiku however said that coruption had the most destructive impact on Nigeria’s dependence on oil, adding that corruption has fostered not only in the oil industry but in society at large.

The politician who served as Vice President to Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007 also cited how other oil-producing countries had diversified their economies in order to have a cushion in the case of oil price plummets as is currently the case.

‘‘The US, U.K., Canada, Malaysia, and UAE are all oil producers. But because they have diversified economies, oil does not dominate their government revenues and does not have the same distortionary effect it has on our own,’‘ Atiku said.

He also called for Nigeria to take a relook at it’s over centralized federal structure in other to give the states and local government increased capacity to engage in development and other activities which are specific to their areas.

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