By CHRIS EKEKE
Eminent Nigerians who gathered at the recent symposium of The Osasu Show in Abuja, have unanimously called for the urgent diversification of the Nigerian economy.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the symposium with the theme: “The New Economy and Its Impact on the Less Privileged Citizens,” the stakeholders also took a stance on the war against corruption.
They said, “The anti-graft war should not be politically motivated and should yield result in terms of jail sentences, and not pending court cases and trials.”
The symposium which held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, had in attendance, the minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu; Director General of the Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside.
The symposium also attracted eminent individuals drawn from the academia, development organizations, private sector, multilateral agencies, the media, civil society, and the legislature.
They noted that while the country’s rural economic capital is domiciled in its huge agricultural potentials, and both mineral and human resources, attaining inclusive and rapid economic growth will require wholesome diversification of the economy.
The communiqué reads in part: “Achieving this would entail the urgent need to carry out a geological mapping of non-oil sectors: sectors with high propensity for growth such as real estate, solid minerals, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and manufacturing where the private sector can make strategic investments.
“Constant review of local content law should be prioritized to ensure full protection and participation of indigent people towards economic development.
“Government should develop initiatives to support the private sector in providing capacity development for small-holder operators of businesses in the non-oil sector to make locally produced goods become more competitive.
“Government should partner with youth to reduce illegalities in both oil and non-oil sectors of the economy, particularly where young people are found to be productive, including illegal artisanal mining and oil bunkering.
“To achieve the above recommendations, government must urgently implement a short-term economic diversification plan that captures the need of people in rural areas and disadvantaged regions.”
On the fight against corruption, the stakeholders acknowledged the need to encourage Nigerians to evaluate public expenditure and budgetary allocations against the quality of projects monies were earmarked for.
They noted that “Repeatedly, over the years, monies have been released for capital projects with such projects not implemented,” while also saying that “When leaders are held accountable, it will conversely invoke speedy and full performance.”
They also recognized the need for Nigerians to be critical stakeholders and agents of development by continuously demanding for leadership accountability.
On the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the stakeholders called for grassroots mobilization and sensitization for the adoption of SDGs by indigent people through the fostering of community-based development strategy across the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
They also recognized that climate change constituted a major threat to the lives of Nigerians as the negative impacts on people, environment and culture were already being recorded.