The Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has set up Economic Advisory Council saddled with the responsibility of guiding the state into prosperity and tap into its abundant human and mineral resources that would pave way for seamless economic diversification.
He explained that the the main responsibility of the council was to work with the state in opening new doors of opportunities towards economic diversification and boost local productivity such that would cushion hardship occasion by outbreak of coronavirus and cut in federal allocation acrrued to states.
Bello said that the way out was for the nation to go back to the days of agricultural boom and devise a way of optimising its abundant mineral resources.
Addressing members of the council during a virtual inauguration, the governor noted that they had been carefully selected based on their pedigree and track record and confidence reposed in them to devise best economic policy that would put the state’s economy on path of accelerated growth.
According to him, as you know, agriculture was the pride of the nation before the discovery of oil, in the 60s. But the coming of it utterly neutralised the gains in agriculture and stalled the progress in other sectors, as well.
“The entity called Nigeria is so naturally blessed, with the potential to be one of the leading countries in the world, but the circumstances of oil and all the issues around it, has made this very difficult to realize. Ladies and gentlemen, there is no doubt that crude oil, in Nigeria, is suffering declining relevance,” he said.
He expressed concern that crude oil may actually become extinct, with the passage of time or become totally irrelevant, due to improvements in renewable energy over environmental concerns.
“In 2016 and 2020 respectively, Nigeria was ushered into a recession over the collapse of the price of crude oil. This, for me, underlines the fragility of our economy and, indeed, a wake-up call that we must begin to think beyond oil, if we are to be sustainable, as a nation and, by extension, if we are to survive, as a state. As you know, Kogi is vastly blessed with human and natural resources that are yet to be optimally harnessed for the good of our people,” Bello said.
Bello noted that available data also indicates that the state had over 29 solid minerals in commercial quantities, adding that Kogi was blessed with the confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue, a gateway to the FCT, bordered by 10 states, including FCT, and blessed with considerable arable land.
“We are blessed with potentially world-class tourist sites; we are blessed with leading cash crops such as cashew, cassava, rice etc. We are blessed with high-profile industries such as Ajaokuta, Itakpe Iron Ore, Obajana Cement Company, we can go on and on.
“We cannot and must not, therefore, be complacent, in the face of these enormous blessings and see our people, our State struggling with basic necessities of life,” Bello added.
Bello also informed the council that the rationale behind the establishment of the Confluence University of Science and Technology, Osara, was to create local capacity and strategically position the state to take advantage of the abundant mineral resources she boasts of.
The Chairman of the Council, Aliyu Nda-Salami, while responding on behalf of other members, thanked the governor for the intrinsic confidence reposed in them, adding that they had resolved to hit the ground running and change the fortunes of the state for good and that Bello had taken the right step by bringing together a crack team to move the economy of the state forward.
Members of the Council include Amb. Olusiji Aina, Joseph Makoju, Kola Jamodu, Dr Aheruvoh Ohiku, Emmanuel Onoja, Abdulrazaq Isa Kutepa and Segun Adaju.
Others are Tony Okpanachi, Hajiya Halima Alfa, Amb. Shola Enikanolaye, Stephen Ocheni, Ola Oyelola, Musa Itopa-Jimoh, Isah Shaibu, Prof. Seidu Muhammed, John Obaro, Lawal Lamidi, Dr. Isah Abdullahi amongst others.