Opinion: Now That The Iranians Are Here Again!!!

Opinion: Now That The Iranians Are Here Again!!!

Editor’s note: With the return of Iran to the global space as a free player after years of economic sanctions, Legit.ng's contributor, Osilama Okuofu, reveals that Nigeria quickly need to venture into other areas in terms of revenue generation with preference to agriculture as a major source.

I have avoided deliberately doing this write-up now for weeks but it keeps tugging at me. Dooms day prophesy is not something I admire because I like to inspire hope and belief, both on a personal and professional level. But sometimes, you just cannot run away from the stark reality called truth.

The doggedness of Iran

After years of international isolation and cat and mouse negotiations for re-absorption with America and her allies, the Republic of Iran was finally welcomed back to the global space as a free player, after economic sanctions were suspended.

By this, Iran can now participate in economic and trading activities and nowhere would their presence be felt more resoundingly and quickly than in the international oil market.

Iran has more oil and gas deposits than Saudi Arabia and that is saying plenty. Already the impact of Iran’s re-emergence is being felt. The price of crude oil has dipped so much that countries whose economies and national incomes are hugely dependent on oil have gone into a tail-spin.

The Russian Ruble has lost so much value while Nigeria’s growth has slowed to slightly over two percent from over six percent last year, all due to the international oil price slump. Countries like Venezuela are declaring emergencies all with a view to forestall unrest. The Brazilians want their president, Dilma Rousseff, gone like yesterday.

Now this is where it gets interesting for us as a people in Nigeria. For an economy almost entirely dependent on oil exportation for her foreign earnings, the rather telling economic realities burdening the larger population of the people are about to get tougher.

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Recent reports from the Office of Statistics show a huge reduction in our income levels from oil exports, foreign reserves and this is weakening the local currency which is why the Central Bank of Nigeria is doing all it can, fighting tooth and nail to shore up the Naira-value against other world’s currencies; especially the dollar.

Will Nigeria keep depending on oil?

A consequence of this is that Nigeria’s slow growing economy has slowed even further as already posited and runs the risk of going into negative position or recession. For an emerging economy suffering huge infrastructural deficits, massive youth unemployment, the good times are still pretty much far off.

But then again, herein exist the opportunity. Nigeria needs to go back to investing heavily in the agricultural sector such that in a few years hence she can begin to, on a sustainable basis, export cash crop products like cocoa, groundnut, palm oil etc, like was the case in the sixties and seventies when the three regions of North, East and West competed amongst themselves to shore up incomes for the development of the infrastructures of their regions for the benefits of their peoples.

Huge cassava cultivation in the then Mid-West still exist in present Edo State and should be deepened beyond the interest showed under the administration of President Obasanjo and its bread eating ceremony at the Villa under President Jonathan.

This is one area Nigeria can begin to once again, show her dominance in cash crop production and exportation. This is also not losing sight of the need to attract local and foreign investors to utilise some of these crops as raw materials for further industrial production into finished products like chocolate bars, groundnut oil, palm oil and cassava flour thus putting our drive towards becoming one of the top twenty economies by the year 2020 on sound footing and a reality beyond mere sloganeering and wistfulness.

What Nigeria must address

For a country with a huge population size as Nigeria’s re-energising the agricultural sub-sector will create opportunities for small-scale farming, help reduce youth unemployment and create a new crop of wealth owners.

Massive deployment of resources on our decadent and non existing infrastructures will equally help give the economy a much needed fillip and boost against recession.

At a time like this, we should be thankful we are essentially deficient in the area of having good roads, housing, and urbanisation.

Funds realised from other sources such as taxation, customs and excise, immigration etc, should be deployed in this direction and it will have a snow-balling effect on the economy as jobs will be created directly and indirectly through direct labour requirements both of skilled and unskilled people as well as the emergence of various supply chains such as implements, fittings and food vending along the way.

This would open the economy and land mass in ways better seen than imagined. Such a move would further encourage direct foreign investors, who desirous of wanting to take advantage of our huge population size, would be very willing to enter into various partnerships with the public and private sector participants and Nigeria would be on the path to sustainable economic development and the incidences of her economy and the well being of her people continually determined and swung around like a yo-yo due to the vagaries of the international oil market would be greatly reduced, if not eliminated.

Iran survived decades of economic isolation and sanctions and that speaks volume, not only of their resilience, but economic robustness and non dependence on a mono product; especially one that has become a willing tool of war and strangulation by world powers to rein in on regimes not favourably disposed to them. The time has come for Nigeria to extricate herself from oil and the petro-dollar quagmire.

 

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Legit.ng.

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