Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, says the sudden crash in crude oil price across the globe was a vindication of his earlier warning that Nigeria’s continuous dependence on oil for survival would backfire.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a drastic reduction in oil prices which has left the economies of traders and oil producing countries in a quagmire.
But in an opinion article written on Thursday, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2019 general elections said the ongoing happenings in the crude oil market was an opportunity for the country to consider diversification of its economy.
He said: “As at today, Nigeria is pricing its very low sulphur sweet crude at $10 per barrel, yet buyers are balking. Our sweet crude is becoming a little bitter.
“I had earlier warned that Nigeria needs a Strategic Reserve to store unsold crude. Now, we have so much crude and no one to buy it, nowhere to store it, and little idea what to do with it.
“Barely three years ago, I had also alerted that the “crude thinking” promoted by our dependence on crude oil will lead to a rude shock.
“If you are still talking about oil, you are in the past. As far as I am concerned, the era of oil is gone. If you want to believe it, believe it. If you do not want to believe it, you will see it. It is crude thinking to continue to talk and base development projections on crude oil,” I had said at a public event in the nation’s capital.”
According to Atiku, Nigeria should see the present situation as a blessing in disguise to finally put in place strategies aimed at sustaining the economy beyond crude oil.
The former Vice-President continued: “For far too long we have grown high on our own supply, to the extent that we have neglected almost every other sector of our economy.
“This present rude awakening should be seen as a blessing in disguise – a blessing that compels us to take those drastic actions that will free us from the crude oil trap. We need to diversify our economy, and yes, it is easier said than done, but that does not mean it is an impossible task.
“In Nigeria, our diversification should embrace agriculture as the primary sector earmarked for development, because agriculture is a low hanging fruit, is key to ensuring food subsistence, and with the recent signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AFCTA), which favours Nigeria’s economy greatly, Nigeria can take advantage of this to become an agricultural powerhouse in Africa.”