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Umahi urges FG, states to adopt economic diversification

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Clement Nnachi, Abakaliki

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has urged the federal and 36 state governments across the country to urgently create an enabling environment that would favour diversification of the economy and de-emphasise mono- economic system as a panacea to tomorrow zero-oil economy.

Governor Umahi made the assertion, on Tuesday, while delivering a lecture on the occasion of the 59th Founders Day Celebration of the University of Nigeria (UNN), held at the Princess Alexandria Auditorium/Unity Hall, Nsukka Campus.

The lecture titled ‘Preparing Ebonyi State for Tomorrow Zero-Oil Economy’ was the climax of activities lined up by the institution Authorities to proffer solutions to the challenges posed by tomorrow’s zero oil economy for the country.

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He said that there were great opportunities for non-oil sectors to grow stressing that the nation must put modalities in place to confront the challenges posed in a zero-oil eonomy.

“Given that the most prosperous Nations of the World are not dependent on oil, the Federal /State Governments should ensure that all revenues from oil are applied to infrastructural development.”

The governor recommended as mitigation measures the need for government to empower the Bank of Industry/ Agriculture and other Development Banks to create soft loans for farmers.

“Government subsidies and incentives should be made available to farmers and entrepreneurs and markets shall be provided for Goods and Services.

“There is need to introduce at all levels mechanised agriculture, farm settlements and River Basin Authorities.

“A re-structured Nigeria based on zero – oil economy will consequently transform into a nation with a different Constitution in which the Exclusive and Concurrent List will look drastically different from what it looks like today.”

Governor Umahi decried the practice of using oil wealth to fund recurrent expenditure, insisting that such promotes dependency culture that stifles innovative creativity and productivity.

He said that Ebonyi State has started laying the foundation for sustained Economic growth and prosperity beyond the era of oil.

“We have made the modest strides in our state through a combination of prudence preparation for the future and diversification of economy beyond oil.”

The State Chief Executive disclosed that his administration had in the last four years and five months made giant strides and reforms in the area of health care delivery, infrastructure development, education, water supply, rural electrification and human empowerment among others.

Earlier in his speech, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Prof. Charles Arinzechukwu Igwe, said that the Lecture  chosen for the Founders Day event was apt maintaining that the University was established with proceeds of palm oil and not crude oil.

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“I am sure that reducing our dependence on crude oil will require a lot of Research in policy and Technological innovations.”

Prof. Igwe reiterated that the institution was yet to fully harvest and harness the enormous resources inherent in the over fifty generations of Alumni she has produced so far.

“As we celebrate our 59th anniversary in readiness for our 60th anniversary, the time has come for us all to think more of what we can do for the University and a lot less of what the institution will do for us.”

Highlights of the occasion was the cutting of the 59th Founders Day Cake and Goodwill messages from the Pro-Chancellor Chancellor of the University, Prof. Mike Olorunfemi.

The occasion had in attendance the Pro-Chancellor of the University Professor Mike Olorunfemi, members of the Management and Governing Council of the University, members of the Students Union, members  of the Ebonyi State Executive Council, the Academia,  members of the Traditional Rulers Council , youth Organisations and Civil Society Groups among others.