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Senate considers N1.6bn take-off for economic diversification

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Senate considers N1.6bn take-off for economic diversification
Senate has began a process for the establishment of the Nigerian Economic Diversification Council, which it said would be self funding after take off grant of N1.618billion for the first year.

The upper legislative chamber explained that the new approach will be a departure from policy pronouncements of the past with required legal instrument.

Towards this, a piece of legislation titled: “A bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Economic Diversification Council and to provide for comprehensive framework, structures, programmes and schemes for strengthening capacity development in that direction”, sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC Niger North), passed second reading on the floor of the chamber.

“Specifically, the objectives of this bill is to have a legislative framework for diversification of the Nigerian economy.

“It includes the establishment and maintenance of programmes for the overall development of the Nigerian economy, more especially, to encourage the growth of Nigerian industries, services, technologies in order to diversify the Nigerian economy and raise the standard of living of persons living in Nigeria to a reasonable level.

“The critical and urgent need for the diversification of the Nigerian economy to guarantee a prosperous economic future for both the present and unborn generations of Nigerians must no longer be glossed over, if Nigeria is to be kept alive.

“Nigeria need to move away, and , very quickly too, from over reliance on the unstable petroleum revenue to a well-focused diversified economy where the key sectors of the economy like the ICT, solid minerals, health, manufacturing, power, agriculture and maritime sectors will be productively utilized to provide sources of sustainable revenues for the economy”, Senator Abdullahi stressed.

According to him, Nigeria’s crude oil proceeds fell by 41.60 percent in the first quarter of 2021 to $6.48 billion from $11.1 billion in the first quarter of 2020.

He explained that despite various loans, reforms and policies by both present and past governments, millions of Nigerians continue to remain impoverished.

“Diversification helps to mitigate volatility and provides a more sustainable path for equitable growth and development.

“It is even more crucial now, given the slower global economy and the pressing need in many developing nations to boost revenue,” the lawmaker added.

Senator Abdullahi gave example of Malaysia to embellish his argument by saying that “since gaining independence in 1963, Malaysia effectively diversified its economy from one dependent on agriculture and commodities to one based on robust manufacturing and service sectors.”

The envisioned law, he added, makes for inter-sector synergies among the key sectors of the economy, as well as the creation of a Council to ensure strict implementation of its provisions.

He said the Board of Council sought to be created would be headed by the President while ministers of key sectors like the solid minerals, trade and investment, agriculture, health, finance, communication and digital economy, science and technology, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Governor, and key stakeholders in the private sector, among others, would be members to ensure that high level policy decisions are not only taken but implemented.

The bill, after exhaustive debate by Senators and passage for second reading, was referred by the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on National Planning and Economic Affairs for further legislative work and report back within four weeks.

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