Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan
The Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Muda Yusuf, has commended the ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ policy of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, stating that it should be a national policy.
Although, Delta State is one of Nigeria’s major oil producing states and due to the principle of derivation, receives one of the highest revenue allocation monthly, but the Governor, through the ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ policy is already looking at the future when oil would be exhausted.
According to the LCCI DG, “It should be a national policy because we are in a very vulnerable state. A situation whereby, we depend on oil for 80 per cent of our revenue and 90 per cent of our foreign exchange is very dicey”.
On what the federal government should be doing to realise the goal, Yusuf said, “It should declare a state of emergency. It can start by pegging the price of oil at $60 per barrel. The federal government should also provide the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive. Once the environment is right, people will become very creative and many jobs will be created in areas that you least expect”.
Emphasising the importance of a conducive business environment, Yusuf referred to the tremendous progress that has been made in the movie/entertainment industry, where many young people who were hitherto unemployed, are now gainfully employed and contributing to the nation’s Gross Domestic Products. More Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) will spring up and thrive if government invests in appropriate infrastructure, he said.
While also agreeing that Nigeria ought to be planning for a future when oil would no longer be there, the Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chike Ogeah, said, “Delta Beyond Oil is an initiative to effect a paradigm shift from the nearly 100 per cent reliance on revenue from crude oil in driving the state's economy. Its aim is to harness other resources in the state to create a vibrant economy away from oil, which is a finite resource”.
Continuing, Ogeah said, “Areas of emphasis in weaning Delta State from dependence on oil are agriculture, ICT, developing other natural resources, including solid minerals, developing the huge manpower base, and creating a clement environment for investment and private enterprise to thrive.
On the specific areas of focus, he said, “The vision entails the development of a strong infrastructural base viz modern roads, efficient water transportation, efficient healthcare system, a world class educational system”.
Asked how much the state government has earmarked to realise the goal, the commissioner said, “Delta Beyond Oil is not a physical structure in terms of a building but an enduring vision to prepare the state for the inevitable drying up of hydro-carbon deposits. In effect, the vision does not come with any cost. The vision recognises the fact that despite relatively significant revenue from oil, Delta is faced with huge challenges, especially in the cost of developing critical infrastructure due to its tough terrain”.
Also commenting on the initiative, Founder/CEO, Proshare Limited, Mr. Olufemi Awoyemi, said, “The initiative from Delta is laudable even if it is all hype. It helps provide a contextual framework for the much needed discussion not just as a resource limitation problem, an alternative seeking imperative or a diversification choice”.
Continuing, he said, “It goes to the heart of our federalism to encourage all states to identify their core competence or revenue stream – a key fundamental to states creation we failed to tick off on”.