Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has said Nigeria’s economy will attain great heights of development if the economy was diversified and the mono-product economy practice jettisoned.
According to him, the country’s reliance on oil was not only unsustainable but also incapable of creating jobs and building enduring infrastructure that would support rapid economic growth.
Senator Omo-Agege stated this in Abuja when he played host to a delegation of the Africa Atlantic Gulf of Guinea Fisheries (AAGGF), led by Patrick Osobose.
The lawmaker applauded the group’s initiative of planning to establish an industrial fishing and associated seafood production in Nigeria.
This, he noted, will create opportunities for unemployed Nigerians, even as he tasked the group to liaise with the Amnesty Office for optimal result.
On the opportunities the programme will create in the Niger Delta region, Omo-Agege said: “The Niger Delta is pretty much a shadow of itself. And ever since we have been scrambling to see how we can bring back some of these oil companies with assurances that the circumstances that led to their exit no longer exist.
“We are still in the process of doing that. And now without prompting, here you are seeking to come to the Niger Delta to do what we have been craving the oil companies to come back to do with the kind of investments that you are proposing. We are very happy with that. We will give you our support because this fits into the President’s agenda of lifting over 100 million people out of poverty”.
Earlier, the lead consultant, Patrick Osobose, said the purpose of the visit was to brief the Deputy President of the Senate of the project and seek the support of the National Assembly.
He pointed out that the project was a joint venture of a consortium of Greek and Nigerian partners seeking to establish industrial fishing and processing plants and depots in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country.
He lamented that foreigners exploit the country’s lack of enterprise on territorial waters to perpetuate illegal fishing activities.
He said: “We came with a Greek consortium that is part of the AAGGF platform. AAGGF brings different expertise under one platform for the take off of this project.
“Right now, we are at the take off stage. We have been at this for three years. Hopefully, it will commence in the first or second quarter of 2020.
“It will reduce our foreign exchange exposure. The country is spending $1.5billion yearly importing fish. If we come in, we can’t singlehandedly reduce it but we start the process of reducing that number and saving the country millions and billions of dollars annually. More companies like this will come up as a result of it”.
Also speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang who was also part of the delegation, noted that the project which part of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) was in line with the present administration’s deliberate effort to diversify the economy beyond oil.