“The Nigerian economy is experiencing shock arising from the economic downturn occasioned by the sharp drop in the prices of crude oil in the international market.
Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, says that only economic diversification can help the country reduce massive unemployment and overcome the current economic recession.
According to him, the present realities demand diversification into agriculture, fisheries, mining and energy, stressing that investment in these areas would go a long way in reviving the economy.
Ngige who spoke as Guest of Honour at the 14th Fellowship and Award Ceremony of the Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON) in Abuja at the weekend, also said Nigeria is currently at the crossroads.
Said he, “The Nigerian economy is experiencing shock arising from the economic downturn occasioned by the sharp drop in the prices of crude oil in the international market.
“We should even be happy that the economy is not convulsing as a result of mis-governance and planlessness of the last 16 years. Our people did not anticipate the slump in oil prices.
“It was the profligacy of the past that brought us to the present situation and we don’t have the wherewithal to effect the change we promised Nigerians that is why we have made diversification our policy thrust”.
Ngige appealed to the executives of the FISON to embrace the government’s diversification policy by creating jobs through massive fish production in the country.
In his address, the National President of FISON, Dr. Olajide Ayinla lamented that Nigeria has become the biggest importer of frozen fish, a development which he said, was crippling local fish production in the country.
He appealed to the Federal Government to ban the importation of frozen fish into the country in order to encourage local fish producers to expand their production frontiers.
Dr. Ayinla called on the Federal Government to upgrade and rehabilitate fish production laboratories and other research facilities in the country, saying the facilities are either dilapidated or working far below capacity.
He raised the alarm that the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, which was designated as terminal for the Nigerian Fisheries Trawlers Owners Association (NITOA) by the Obasanjo administration, is about to be taken away from the association.
“By implication, there will be no Terminal where NITAO can effectively operate. This is a huge investment under serious threat and the intervention of the Federal Government will restore hope and confidence to this important sector of our economy”.
Dr. Ayinla also blamed slow implementation of the government’s policy on certification of aquaculture products as setback for the exportation of shrimps from Nigeria to the European Union market.