Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan has called for the immediate diversification of the nation’s economy, just as he charged the media to educate Nigerians on the Nigeria Beyond Oil Initiative and its immense benefits.
The governor who stated this on Thursday, August 22, 2013 at the Nigerian Guild of Editors’ 9th Annual Nigerian Editors’ Conference in Asaba said there was the need to diversify the nation’s economy so as to cushion the likely effects of the decline in oil revenue. He explained that the nation’s over reliance on a mono-economy and rising food imports have led to high youth unemployment and high population growth which have negative effects on the economy.
“High population leads to deeper poverty and deeper poverty leads to high fertility.” he said, stating that “It is a vicious circle which should have no place in our economy”.
He called on the media to sensitize Nigerians on being supportive and patient with government on the actualisation of the benefits of the economic diversification initiative, stating that the Guild of Editors have a great role to play in educating the public on the “Nigeria Beyond Oil” Initiative as it requires a long term investment on infrastructure.
He explained that the initiative would take time to yield its fruits but Nigerians should learn to wait and contribute their quota to the success of the initiative.
His words “the actualisation of the “Beyond Oil Economy” would take time especially as some of the infrastructure required to attract investors to other areas of the economy are expensive and take quite some time to actualise. …Therefore the editors and by extension the media should help to educate the people and guide them to be patient in the realisation of the benefits of the Nigeria Beyond Oil Initiative”.
Governor Uduaghan stated that Delta State government have been committed to the economy diversification initiative through the “Delta Beyond Oil” programme since the inception of his administration and as such have attracted investments that would develop other sectors of the economy apart from oil.
He explained that his administration had invested in agriculture to help improve food production to support the rapid population growth and create employment for youths in the state.
While explaining that the present growth and dependence on food imports were inimical to economic growth, Dr Uduaghan called on the Federal Government to invest massively in the agricultural and industrialisation sectors so that Nigeria could feed its citizens and create employment for the youths.
The governor also harped on the importance of investments in infrastructure to help expand the economy beyond oil explaining that various achievements have been made in the educational, health, transport and micro credit sectors in the state.
Speaking further he said “Our industrial programme is anchored on setting up special economic zones and construction of industrial parks to help improve on the economic well being of Deltans and attract huge investment to the state”.
He continued “Our agricultural programme is driven to help improve on the food production in the state and create employment for our teeming youths. While our health and educational programmes is aimed at improving the lives of Deltans”.
In a brief remark, The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim called journalists to strictly comply with the ethics of the profession so as not to lose the trust of the society.
While explaining that the media was the anchor to promoting the Nigeria beyond Oil Initiative, Senator Anyim stated that the media as critical stakeholders in the Nigerian state, has a vital role to shape the thoughts and stimulate ideas of nigerians as well as build up ideals that Nigerians would follow.
He described the Conference as the first forum organised to openly and publicly discuss the realisation of the “Nigeria beyond Oil” initiative and commended the Nigerian Guild of Editors for providing a platform to discuss critical national issues that affected the nation’s economy.
He said that the greatest role of the Guild of Editors was to aspire to remain patriots of the nation and ensuring the stability of democracy.
Also speaking, the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku stated that Nigeria should not depend solely on oil for its revenue explaining that other sectors of the economy should be explored.
He charged the media to give more time to the issues of the economy and highlight government’s efforts in transforming the economy as “ it is the driving factor in the development of the country”
Mr Maku said that the Nigeria Press Council was not meant to gag the press explaining that Nigeria has the freest press in the whole of Africa. He opined that the Council was a means to ensure that the ethics of the profession were upheld and objectivity was maintained.
In his welcome address, the President, Nigerian Guild of Editors Mr Femi Adesina said the conference was for the editors to brainstorm on how to contribute their quota in the diversification of other sectors of the economy.
Mr Adesina explained that the country’s overdependence on oil if not checked, would spell doom for the nation in the future and there was therefore a need to deliberate on the way forward.
He stated that the conference would also afford them the opportunity to discuss on the germane issues about the Nigeria Press Council and how to use the media to promote the initiative of “Nigeria Beyond Oil”.
Alhaji Dangote who was represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Dangote Group, Engr. Joseph Makoju said that Federal government should deliberately use the resources derived from crude oil revenue to drive industrialization in the country.
While urging on the Federal government to develop the vast local market to reduce the nation’s dependence on imported goods, he called for value reorientation in the country so that Nigerians would purchase locally produced goods.
Alhaji Dangote said the biggest challenge to the nation’s industrialisation was not funds but lack of highly trained manpower to drive the industrialisation and called for the immediate manpower development programmes in the country.
He informed the participants that Dangote Group would soon embark on the building of a 9 billion dollars petro-chemical refinery in Olokola as part of its commitment to the industrialisation of the nation.
Alhaji Dangote commended the Nigerian Guild of Editors for making the theme of diversification a major focus of the conference stating that the outcome of the deliberations would help raise awareness for the Nigeria beyond Oil initiative.
Earlier during a courtesy call on the the state governor by members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Governor Uduaghan charged them to use their position to strengthen and sustain the country’s democracy, adding that as stakeholders, they should help in deepening the country’s democracy and ensure a free and fair elections in 2015.
Uduaghan explained that the editors have a big role to play in the sustenance of the country’s democracy and called on them to use the to brainstorm on measures to be taken to achieve a successful election in 2015.
He commended the Guild for the decorum displayed in their election process saying “the process of choosing leadership in the Guild has finally stabilized and I want to enjoin all electoral bodies to learn from the free and fair methods in picking leaders of the Guild”.
The Governor urged them to use the opportunity of the conference in Asaba to undertake facility visits of the infrastructure and developmental projects and programmes of his administration throughout the state.
In a brief address, the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr Femi Adeshina commended the state government for the massive development going on in the state and its warm hospitality to members of the Guild.
He informed the governor that the guild was in Asaba for its 9th annual All Nigerian Editors Conference and commended him for all the state has put in place for the success of the conference.
According to him, “We appreciate the hospitality Delta State has shown us since our arrival for the conference. We thank Governor Uduaghan for your kind gesture to put everything in place to ensure the success of our conference”.