While commending the efforts of the Federal and state governments in diversifying and expanding the production base of the economy, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has declared that there is a tendency for the country to fail to address some of the root causes of the economic malaise that got her into recession in the first place.
The above submission was made on the last day of the one-week-long 25th-anniversary celebration of the Ikeja branch of NSE, which held at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers in Lagos recently.
In his keynote address, Joseph Makoju, explained that as welcome as the news of the country’s emergence from recession was last year, that it was achieved on a weak and fragile base as the rebound of fickle crude oil prices as well as the good production volumes has basically been responsible for the positive growth figures.
“Nigeria’s economy still has a soft underbelly and needs to be rapidly diversified. We particularly need to deepen and expand our manufacturing, agricultural and mining sectors as a first step. There is a very real concern that the current oil price recovery (as welcome as it is) could lure us to slip into a state of lethargy and complacency. As individuals and as a professional group we need to harp on this point and ensure governments at all levels stay focused on their quest to industrialize the economy and grow our non-oil exports.”
The Engineer remarked that no nation has successfully transited from developing to a newly industrialized country status without growing its manufacturing base. He noted that it is sometimes easy to forget how far behind a country has slipped unless it makes painful comparisons with nations that were once considered its peers.
Citing some instances, Makoju pointed out that the industrial sectors of Malaysia and Thailand contribute over 30 per cent to GDP and over 70 per cent to exports. However, in stark contrast, he noted that Nigeria, a country that is a lot more endowed has an industrial sector that contributes less than 10 per cent to its GDP and that its total non-oil exports account for less than four per cent of aggregate export revenue.
On his part, Adekunle Mokuolu, president of NSE highlighted that it is gladdening to know that the NSE has maintained the tradition upon which it was founded and commended his colleagues for availing themselves the opportunity to contribute to nation building in their different practices.
Mokuolu stated that the focus presently, involves massive deployment of their professional manpower to rural communities in Nigeria, the objective of which is to provide basic engineering infrastructure through voluntary service, and basic infrastructures such as rural roads, water projects, school buildings, electrification, provision of farming implements, building of livestock ranches, poultries and such other services that are guaranteed to foster unity and progress in the country.