Posted on September 9, 2016
Professor of political economy, Pat Utomi, has described the current financial crisis in Nigeria as a golden opportunity for the country to reposition its economy, rather than a problem. He also said that a continuous fall in the price of oil would make the country realise its wealth in agriculture. Utomi spoke on Monday at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Integrated Produce City in Ugbokun community, Ovia north-east local government area of Edo State.
Present at the event were Governor Adams Oshiomhole, the chairman of the state economy and strategy team and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Godwin Obaseki, the commissioner for agriculture, Prince Chris Okojie, and some members of the state house of assembly from the area. Utomi, who is also the chairman of the produce city, explained, “Let me shock you by saying that the recession we face in Nigeria is a golden opportunity. It is not a problem; it is an opportunity to finally get the Nigerian economy right.
“So without appearing to scandalise anybody, I actually pray for oil prices to stay down and stay down for a long time. Then, we will come to our senses and we will know that Nigeria really is a rich country.” According to him, the country was yet to adopt the right economic policy, adding that a competitively driven industrial policy in select value chains would be helpful in confronting the “misery index” and bring hope to millions.
Utomi described the IPC project as an agricultural value chain solution centre and a more organised trading platform that increases competitiveness.
He commended the state government for providing the enabling environment to site the project, which he said would accommodate an Agro-allied Industrial Park, with 50 factories, Preservation Park, and Farm Equipment Centre. He also noted that the project would include support infrastructure like 24-hour electricity and water supply, residential accommodation as well as water conservation and disposal.
The professor of the Lagos Business School said, “Why is the IPC unique? First, it aims to confront the biggest monster facing agriculture in Nigeria, which is yielding losses – the poor returns that farmers get, as middle men scoop everything up, the profits that slip away in these kinds of disarticulated markets and the poor infrastructure challenge that face people in agriculture. “With a well organised trading platform, accessing commodity exchanges, efficiencies increase at a pace that increases global competitiveness on the produce in which our factor endowment are strong.”
On his part, Oshiomhole, who laid the foundation stone on behalf of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, said that Nigeria cannot determine its value by the volume of oil it export. The governor explained that Nigeria’s capacity in agriculture could not be over-emphasised, in terms of food security and wealth creation.
He said that Edo believes in allocating land to genuine investors, adding that the new agricultural project would not only provide jobs for citizens of the state but assist in reducing poverty among rural residents. While describing the IPC as a timely intervention from a private investor, the governor solicited the cooperation of the host community in ensuring the agro-allied initiative achieved its objectives.
(Culled from www.today.ng by Josephine Adeyinka-Ahmed)