By JONATHAN NDA-ISAIAH,
The federal government has disclosed that between 2000 and 2015, Nigeria spent as much as N49 trillion importing raw materials and products.
This was disclosed by the minister of science and technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, after the federal executive council meeting presided over by acting president, Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, yesterday.
He lamented that for too long, Nigeria has depended on importation of raw materials and products and this has had very adverse effects on the economy particularly as it concerns job creation and the search for self-reliance.
According to him, Nigeria is a great nation with abundance of natural resources saying it doesn’t make sense to be importing from outside when most of the materials are available in the country.
“For example, between 2000 and 2015, Nigeria spent as much as N49 trillion importing raw materials and products. At that time, not that it was sustainable, but our economy could manage such level of importation because crude oil sold most of the time above $100 per barrel.
“But definitely now, such level of importation is unsustainable but we are paying a price right now because if we have depended on our own raw materials, we would have had a service. With the sharp drop in the prices of crude oil, Nigeria would have been able to withstand such a shock and we would not have had such problem that we are passing through now,’’ he said.
The minister explained that the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology is determined to buck that trend so as to change the direction that Nigeria is passing through.
He said: “In the past 56 years, we have depended on foreign commodities. We have relied on importation. We have sacrificed jobs. We now want to move our economy away from that into innovation driven-economy.
“So, Raw Materials Processing and Development Council, one of the agencies under the supervision of the Ministry of Science and Technology had to undertake very important study.
“Before the study was done, there was extensive consultation with research institutes, countries and universities, businesses, industries, governments at all levels to determine our level of dependence on outside products and to find a way we can stop this.
“We had seen what other countries such as Canada, China, India, Japan and South Korea did. It is now very clear to us that if we move in the direction that approval been given today.
“Nigeria will be having service in the next five years and this will be very helpful because what it means is that the abundance of natural resources can now be utilised for industrial production in the country. Then, we ‘ll be able to give jobs to Nigerians.
“There is a provision. We will be saving N3.6 trillion to achieve this in five years. It requires that MDAs should work together. All they need will be put in the budget. We will be asking for 30 per cent of the amount which will be about N1 trillion for five years. If you take about one-fifth of the N1 trillion which will N200 billion every year for all the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for five years, we can do it. “
He stressed that the major thrust of President Muhammadu Buhari administration is that the country should be producing made-in-Nigeria goods so that those who want to work will be able to do so and this is the way to do so.