Obasanjo advises Nigerians against dependence on oil

Jun 08, 2001 02:00 AM

President Olusegun Obasanjo began a two-day visit to Sokoto State with a piece of advice for Nigerians: Depend less on oil to ensure the country's economic survival. In fact, he pledged to diversify the economy to attain the goal. He also said the federal government's determination to explore tantalite in Sokoto State was based on the result of a yet-to-be-carried-out study.
Obasanjo, speaking at the Kangiwa Square venue of the mini-durbar organised in his honour promised that should the report indicate that the mineral, which is said to be in high demand, could be explored in commercial quantity, the government would immediately embark on its exploration.
His words: "From the report, one mineral they call tantalise, which they say is highly in demand, is said to be available in Sokoto. We are going to make sure we carry out a study to find out how extensively available it is and if it is extensively available in a large, commercial quantity, we would do everything to explore and export it for the benefits of our people."

Rather than concentrate on oil and gas, Obasanjo reiterated his call for the diversification of the economy such that Nigeria's sources of revenue can be expanded. "Yes, we have oil, we have gas. But we have... explored or taken adequate interest in all other things. I want to assure you that, from now on, we are going to take very, very adequate interest in the these areas."
Reacting to a statement made by the Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, that FG should confer consular attention on pilgrims and have a rethink of its reported non-participation in annual pilgrimage, Obasanjo said no pilgrim would be denied the right to perform any aspect of his religious rites.
He promised that the consular and health the pilgrims would be taken care of by the Federal Government, adding that there was the need for a spiritual regeneration and revival coupled with an improved "moral tone." "The consular matter and the health issue for those of our brothers and sisters who undertake holy pilgrimage anywhere in the world will be adequately taken into hand. And nothing will be done to stand in the way of anybody," he said.
He commended the Sokoto State governor for the giant strides he had taken in the last two years, adding, however, that a lot still need to be done in the area of agriculture. The FG, he said has already put machinery in place for the rehabilitation of the road from Niger to Sokoto.

Bafarawa, in his speech, called for the rehabilitation of the Sokoto-Kebbi-Zamfara road in order to improve the living conditions of the people. For the last two years, the governor said his administration has not borrowed any money from any source to implement projects which it has raised N 16.8 bn since inception. This, he said, included internally-generated revenue.
Present at the mini-durbar were the governors of Kebbi and Zamfara States, the former minister of Finance and Nigeria's High Commissioner to Britain, Alhaji Alhaji, ex-president Shehu Shagari andthe sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido.

Source: The Guardian
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