Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has decried the continued over dependence on oil revenue by the federating units for meeting their public expenditure needs which he describes as unsustainable and unrealistic given the exhaustible and non-renewable nature of oil and gas resources.
The former president made this statement in a goodwill message he delivered at a Zonal Advocacy Workshop on Economic Diversification and Enhanced Revenue Generation being organized by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission in Abeokuta, Ogun state for states in the South West geo-political zone.
The workshop which is second in the series has as its theme, “Economic Diversification and Enhanced Revenue Generation for Sustainable National Development”.
Chief Obasanjo observed that the scenario where all the three tiers of government solely depend on oil revenue will spell doom for Nigeria’s march towards Vision 20-2020 adding that Nigeria is hugely blessed with abundant natural resources in the area of agriculture, tourism, solid minerals and equal measure of endowment in the manufacturing sector that if properly exploited, harnessed and sustained could in the next ten years catapult Nigeria into a developed nation state in line with the dreams of its founding fathers.
He also laments that a situation whereby the country’s recurrent expenditure which presently stands at 114 percent far outweighs its total revenue means that Nigeria must borrow the remaining 14 percent to meet up thus completely neglecting capital projects.
To bridge this gaping gap, the former president therefore calls on the three tiers of government and the private sector to embrace economic diversification for increased revenue generation through the value chain approach in the identified areas where Nigeria enjoys comparative advantage.
In his keynote address, Senator Ibikunle Amosu the Executive Governor of Ogun state who declared the workshop open, called on states in the country to take advantage of their areas of comparative advantage to enhance their revenue generation capacity with a view to reducing their over dependence on oil revenue a situation which continues to hinder their development efforts.
To this end, Governor Amosu told participants that Ogun state being an industrial hub owing to its close proximity to Lagos is also abundantly blessed with tourism potentials like the Olumo Rock which draws tourists from all over the World, land and water resources suitable for agricultural production and huge solid mineral deposits.
He said in its bid to boost internally-generated revenue, the state government is introducing new strategies for the massive exploitation of its natural resources by creating the enabling environment that will attract local and foreign direct investment for the sustainable development of the state.
In his welcome address, the Chairman Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Engr. Elias Mbam reiterated the resolve of the Commission to increasing the size of the national cake by boosting the revenue base of the federating units to provide them with adequate funds to execute vital development projects and infrastructure.
To this end, he said the Commission has embarked on a Zonal Advocacy Workshop on Economic Diversification and Enhanced Revenue Generation to sensitize key stakeholders comprising the three tiers of government and the organized private sector on the need to diversify Nigeria’s sources of revenue which hitherto was solely dependent on oil revenue.
Engr. Mbam notes that countries the world over strive to exploit and mobilize their natural resources maximally to improve the socio-economic living conditions of their citizens, adding that Nigeria with better resources will not be left behind especially given it’s quest for the attainment of Vision 20-2020 which requires greater funding.
The Chairman stressed that the Commission on its part will continue to vigorously pursue and sustain its economic diversification campaign until all the key stakeholders buy into it. He therefore called on the three tiers of government and the organized private sector to effectively deploy both human and material resources towards the realization of this noble objective.