The 3rd Nsukka Professionals Association (NPA) annual summit with the theme, “Positioning for a Post Oil National Economy” in Lagos, organised by Brandzone Consulting LLC, brought together professionals, policy makers, investors and academicians across the different industry value chain.
Steve Okolo, managing director, Zebra Energy, founding member/Fellow, Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), who was also the chairman of the 3rd NPA Annual Summit in his opening remarks, said the theme was carefully selected and aimed at being used to create a ground to discuss key solutions and better positioning of Nigeria’s economy, in view of the huge downturn in the oil market which is the major contributor to the nation’s revenue inflow.
“The drastic change in the global oil market which impacted negatively on the nation’s economy is a call for a diversification of the economy into other virgin sectors for a strong growth and continuous economic advancement,” Okolo said adding that the Nsukka Professionals Association is strongly committed to creating ideas that will aid economic growth and development in the South Eastern region and ultimately, Nigeria at large leveraging its vast network of professionals.
The keynote speaker, MD/CEO, Zinox Technologies, who was represented by CEO, Activedge Technologies, George Agu, said the nation had to reduce its dependence on oil to build a stronger labour force of highly skilled individuals.
He emphasised on the need to maximize the potentials of various other industries such as information and communication technology (ICT), manufacturing and agriculture to establish the nation’s growth.
He further buttressed his stand by citing the evolutionary shift in statistics of the world’s richest companies from the likes of ExxonMobil (being number 1 at the time), General Electric, Gastron, Citi Group, Bank of America, Shell and HSBS in 2006 to the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook, ExxonMobil (which dropped to the fourth position), Amazon, Microsoft China Mobile in 2016. He was of pointed out that harnessing technology will accelerate the growth of Nigeria’s economy.
Fabian Ajogwu of Lagos Business School said that “the post-oil economy is not a situation where Nigeria waits for oil to vanish but one in which the country rapidly develops other sources of income to outperform oil as it is and achieve a Gross Domestic Product, greater than what oil has provided the economy.
He also highlighted that there is currently a notably high level of human capital migration from Nigeria to other countries with better economies like Canada, for example, and that these countries are benefitting from the taxes generated by these individuals whereas, Nigeria is experiencing a gradual depletion of human capital and hence its tax-generated revenue. He further stated that consistent focus on capital projects will also help grow our nation’s wealth.
From yet another perspective, Ndidi Nwuneli stated, “Agriculture is a low hanging fruit that will not only create wealth but create jobs in Nigeria”. Citing examples of agricultural products like the Cashew nuts and the Nsukka yellow pepper, which are in abundance in the south-east, she spoke about the low exploitation of some of these rich natural products which have immense investment potential. She also added that apart from the utilisation of the agriculture sector as an avenue to grow the nation’s GDP, the region needs to claim ownership of these products and its full proliferation while heralding its uniqueness to the rest of the world.
She further encouraged all stakeholders at the summit to also invest in revamping the face of education into the South East for stronger development of the region.
Speaking on the true purpose of the summit, The President, NPA, Mr Charles Nwodo (Jnr) expressed that the summit was designed to draw attention of policymakers and political leaders at all levels, to the inevitability of the disruption of the global oil market and expected progressive reduction in the revenue accretion to the federation account.