It can be argued that one of the fallouts arising from the crash in price of petroleum products is that it has engendered a deep thinking in the citizenry on the need to diversify the economy and free it from dependence on oil to other sectors such as agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing.
This, no doubt, must have informed the thinking of the Katsina State government when it recently convened a three day economic and investment summit that was declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari, recently. It attracted potential investors, key players in the nation’s economy and political leadership including state governors and ministers.
With the theme, ‘Unlocking Investment for Sustainable Development’, the summit concept keyed into the federal government’s economic agenda which is to shift focus away from an oil-based economy to a more sustainable and broader based economy that will revitalize and engage the private sector for higher returns and create employment generation.
In our view, and as proclaimed by the state government, the Katsina State Economic and Investment Summit came about as a result of the correct appreciation of the reality that the time had come for all tiers of government in the country to begin to critically explore other sources of sustainable economic development away from decades of our reliance solely on export of crude oil. As aptly captured in the communiqué issued at the end of the summit, the nation would have been saved from her prevailing economic woes, if years back, the energy sector had not been made dominant contributor to the economy.
As it is painfully evident, that has had further disruptive consequences resulting, among others, growth without development. It is also very significant that the summit came up with recommendationsthat emphasise harnessing the vast agricultural potential of the state. Katsina State is, indeed, where large and small scale farming can be positively developed for the benefit of her citizens. What is needed and which had been lacking all these years, is the requisite vision of the political leadership. We hope that Governor Aminu Bello Masari’s administration will walk its talk in this demandable but realizable task.
By convening the summit and from its outcome, the current administration in Katsina State has not only keyed into the philosophical thrust of Buhari’s change mantra, which among other facets of our national life, entails a rigorous effort in the diversificationof the economy, the summit is, in our view, an example and a beacon to other states in the federation, particularly to states in the north of the country with immense agricultural and other competitive advantages in economic development and growth. In our opinion, it is time to veer off lazy and retrogressive practice of looking up to the centre, cap in hand, for federal allocation. That is especially so, if the Masari administration will equally look into the recommendationsof the summit’s participants that Katsina State should also begin to explore the numerous identified but untapped solid mineral resources underneath the soil and rocks that abound in the state.
We suggest that the state government establish a standing agency that will take over from the summit committee so that the momentum gathered and the recommendationsare expeditiously achieved on a sustainable manner.
(Culled From Leadership)