The Senate has started working on a legislation that would ensure the creation of an agency with a task of working out strategic plans to diversify the nation’s economy.
Tagged, the Economic Diversification Council, the red chamber said the agency would serve as special purpose vehicle for urgent need to keep Nigeria alive economically.
This is contained in a bill sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi ( APC Niger North), which has passed second reading on the floor of the Senate.
It is 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.”
Abdullahi, in his lead debate, said the agency would be self funding after the federal government had made available, an initial takeoff grant of N1.618 billion for the first year.
The sponsor said the new approach would be a departure from policy pronouncements of the past to require legal instrument.
He said: “Specifically, the objectives of this bill is to have a legislative framework for the diversification of the Nigerian economy.
“It includes the establishment and maintenance of programmes for the overall development of the Nigerian economy.
“It will 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 needs to move away, and very quickly too, from over-reliance on the unstable petroleum revenue to a well-focused diversified economy.
“There is the need to make functional, key sectors of the economy like the ICT, solid minerals, health, manufacturing, power, agriculture and maritime.
“We need to identify sectors that would be productively utilized to provide sources of sustainable revenues for the economy.”
He explained that Nigeria’s crude oil proceeds fell by 41.60 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 to $6.48 billion from $11.1 billion in the first quarter of 2020.
He added that despite various loans, reforms and policies by both present and past governments, millions of Nigerians continue to remain impoverished.
According to Abdullahi, “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.”