Even when many Nigerians all over the country are complaining of the harsh economic realities in the country, foremost economist and founder, Lagos Business School and Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL), Prof. Pat Utomi, said the present economic recession was a golden opportunity for the country to discover her rich potentials and prove that it can survive without oil.
Utomi stated this yesterday in Ugbokun community Ovia North east local government area near Benin City during the ground breaking ceremony of Integrated Produce City (IPC), a private initiative to build a produce village which is a combination of agricultural estate, agro-allied industrial parkland and an agro-processing facility with the initiative of creating a focal point for out-grower scheme in one piece championed by him and other investors where he said the downturn of the economy should make Nigerians come to their senses.
“Let me shock you by saying that the recession we face in Nigeria is a golden opportunity. It is not a problem; it is an opportunity to finally get the Nigerian economy right.
“So without appearing to scandalise anybody, I actually pray for oil prices to stay down and stay down for a long time. Then, we will come to our senses and we will know that Nigeria really is a rich country.
“Right now, we are not behaving as we should be behaving. Competitively driven industrial policy in select value chains will be helpful in confronting the misery index and bringing hope to millions.
“Why is the IPC unique? First, it aims to confront the biggest monster facing agriculture in Nigeria, which is yielding losses – the poor returns that farmers get, as middle men scoop everything up, the profits that slip away in these kinds of disarticulated markets and the poor infrastructure challenge that face people in agriculture.
“With a well organised trading platform, accessing commodity exchanges, efficiencies increase at a pace that increases global competitiveness on the produce in which our factor endowment are strong.”
He said as part of the support service, an Independent Power Project would be initiated that would generated an initial 25 megawatt to service the complex and the community and that a water dam and irrigation project would also be done to give water supply.
However, there was a mild drama when the member representing Ovia Federal Constituency, Omosode Igbinedion came into the venue and was resisted from entering the venue by angry youth who protested her presence.
Their grouse was that she had been advertising in the electronic media that the project was her initiative as the member representing the area. She later drove away when attempts to persuade the youths to allow her into the place was refused
On his part, Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, who stood for the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, for the ground breaking ceremony lauded the initiative of Utomi and said it was an indication that the planned 200,000 jobs promised by the All progressives Governorship candidate for the September 10 governorship election was Godwin Obaseki was realisable.
“Today we are having the first produce city right in the heart of Benin Kingdom few minutes’ drive from Benin City I want to appreciate you, your wife your boss because we know that the neck controls the head.
“This is an event that will kick-start what will add meaning and values to thousands of people both within and outside here what you have done by this initiative is to demonstrate that there are Nigerians who have those qualities that we celebrate elsewhere. All those who teach can also practicalise what they teach and practically in the country you are one of those teachers.
“This gathering couldn’t have been better not just what we have been telling people in the past three months that our candidate said he would create 200,000 jobs many believe that it is not possible and that brings you to two divide of Nigerians that we have those who belief that our future lies in that lazy tradition of extracting the liquid gold and exporting it with little or no value to it, bring dollar home, quarrel over sharing it do some symbolic public toilets and buildings, and then privatise the rest and export more and when there is a shock then there is economic crisis.