Chief Philip Asiodu, a former Chief Economic Adviser to then President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Thursday urged all levels of government to exploit the natural resources around them to improve on the nation’s economy.
Asiodu, who was also the Minister for Petroleum and Mineral Resources in the Transitional Council of 1992-1993, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that crude was just one of the numerous natural resources of Nigeria.
He told NAN that as crude oil price wasw dwindling, agriculture, manufacturing, processing and the service industry should be producing the bulk of the nation’s revenue.
“If we had done what we should do, oil should not contribute more than 30 percent of our revenue.
“About 20 years ago, our textile industry employed more than a million people; today it employs less than 100,000.
“Under AGOA, (African Growth and Opportunities Act) there are opportunities to export to America. Mauritius is exporting about 1 billion dollar garments to America.
“Nigeria is not exporting up to 2 million dollars of garments to them.
“We have cotton, gas, oil. Take the case of plastic goods, sport shoes– dominated by Asians who sell to America for instance. By the virtue of our position and resources, we should be doing that,” he said.
He urged the Federal Government to look beyond crude oil as the source of income generation for the nation.
“For 180 million people wishing to have higher standard of living, higher quality of life, the emphasis for us is to look inward and think beyond oil.
“We must decide to go back to good governance, honesty, integrity, transparency, reduce corruption and create a better life for the masses,” he told NAN.
According to Asiodu, the usage and allocation of the nation’s resources was sub-optimal, thus affecting the economic development of the country.
“Why should in our budget, a Nigerian Senator receives money four times that of an American President and our GDP is just five percent of America’s?
“The time has come for those who rule us and those who seek to rule us to once again discover patriotism and enlightening self-interest, to ensure that the poor man has hope.
“To achieve this, attention needs to be given to quality education, healthcare, social services, good infrastructures and job creation.
“At the same time, we should discipline ourselves as politicians and bureaucrats, so that when people come seeking to invest in Nigeria, we welcome them and give them maximum cooperation.
“We should become facilitators to development and not rent seekers,” he said.
The statesman also appealed to politicians to be conscientious and base politics on developmental issues– as the nation approaches general elections.
“I wish all politicians and the political parties can tell us what they stand for, so that the people can make a better choice. We must go back to politics based on issues.
“It isn’t too late because if politics is just about join me today, join me tomorrow, no principles, distribute money, it will take us to nowhere,” Asiodu said.
He also told NAN that leadership was a call to serve, and the populace expected their leaders to be performance-driven.