Oil alone cannot make Nigeria wealthy — Sanusi

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A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido, has said that Rivers State has the potential to become an investor’s paradise.

Speaking at the 2024 Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit held at the Obi Wali International Conference Centre in Port Harcourt, the state capital, on Thursday, Sanusi also called for the diversification of Nigeria’s economy to ensure sustainable growth and development, saying “oil alone cannot make us wealthy.”

He said that while Nigeria has relied heavily on oil as its major revenue source, the nation needs to implement more viable economic reforms to fully benefit from its oil resources.

He said, “River State is blessed with abundant oil resources, a gift that has significantly contributed to the economy of Nigeria as a whole. However, sitting on oil or any natural resource is not enough for economic development.

“I have said over and over again that if we were to dig out all the oil that is under Nigeria’s soil today and sell it and share the money among all Nigerians, we would, at best, be a lower-middle-income country. So, oil is a resource, but it’s not enough to make us a wealthy country.”

He stressed the importance of diversifying the economy beyond natural resources to establish a strong economic foundation, saying “To achieve development, it is imperative that we recognise the need to take specific steps that transcend natural resources to diversify and institutionalise foundational economic frameworks to fully reap the blessings of oil itself, chiefly because it is not wholly controlled by the state.”

Sanusi stressed the need for innovation and reforms to make the state attractive for investment and capable of sustainable growth.

He said, “There’s a need to consider its viability and risks. To ensure a prosperous future, we must embrace innovation and reforms to make the state attractive for investment and capable of realistic growth. In other words, it is the capacity of state institutions to ensure quality in thinking and skills of the population that will be critical to the delivery of results.”

The former emir pointed out that resources can be both a blessing and a curse. According to him, countries like Russia, the UAE, and Norway have developed not only by their natural resources but by successful and deliberate visions to diversify through the quality of their governance institutions and people.

He warned against relying solely on oil for development. “If we’re serious about development, we have to stop expecting oil to do everything for us,” he added.

Sanusi also stressed the importance of security for investments. “Everyone in Nigeria talks about investment, infrastructure, and development, but few consider that no investors would deploy resources unless they see that the environment is prepared to accommodate their business, make it prosper, and protect it,” he stated.

He praised Rivers State’s potential, citing its rich arable land, abundant oil and water resources, and strategic location.

“Rivers can be one of the best investment paradises not just in Nigeria but in West Africa if the right things are done,” he asserted.

Sanusi thanked Governor Siminalayi Fubara for the invitation and urged the state government to prioritise education and skills training to improve its oil-based economy. Quoting former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he added, no country has ever taxed its way to prosperity; adding that while taxing and having a tax net is important, it must be streamlined.

Source: The Guardian

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