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FG' LL DIVERSIFY ECONOMY BEFORE OIL WELL DRIES UP, SAYS JONATHAN

By NBF News
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President Goodluck Jonathan
Ahead of the prediction by oil experts that Nigeria's oil well reserve might dry up within the next 35 to 45 years, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday in Ewekoro, Ogun State said his administration was committed to diversifying Nigeria's economy. Jonathan who spoke at the inauguration of the 2.5 million metric tonnes of Cement Factory tagged ''Ewekoro II'' , built by the nation's pioneer cement company, Lafarge Wapco Cement , also said his administration was committed to encouraging private sector to go into manufacturing.

His words: '' As a government, our commitment is to make sure that we diversify, we must move away from the mono-culture of depending exclusively on crude oil. As a nation, we must prepare for our children and grand children.

'We must encourage our private sector to go into manufacturing so that even if the oil is dried up, we must have other ways, that we can sustain our economy and provide jobs to our children and create an enabling environment for people to grow.'

The President, also stated that his administration's policy was geared towards boosting production, adding that the value of Naira must not be tied to the whims and caprices of the international oil market, but rather it must be tied to the production and productivity of the Nigerian people.

''I am determined that every government policy in the life of this administration must be geared towards boosting production because the value of the Naira must not be tied to the whims and caprices of the international oil market.'

Jonathan while congratulating the management and staff of Lafarge Plc for the multi billion Naira cement project, stated: ''It is clear to us that average Nigerian is prepared to be a productive person.

'With what we have seen today, we are more encouraged to even go into other areas. The cement sector is one key area that Nigerian companies are reaching out to other countries to produce and we will continue to encourage this.''

He recalled that in 2002 when Nigeria started the Backward Integration Policy with the effect that Nigerians must be self-sufficient in cement production , many insisted that it was a pipe dream.'

'Today we are seeing the benefit and the last time I held a meeting with Cement Manufactures , I was promised that by the first quarter of next year, we will stop importation of cement to Nigeria.

'If we achieve that, that will be great but what we are seeing today gives us hope that we are commissioning a factory that is employing about 1000 people and the production is high and it is saving us six billion dollars annually in revenue in foreign exchange so we must thank Lafarge for this.'

As a Federal Government, the President assured that his government was totally committed to working with manufacturers to make sure that things were improved.

The Chairman, Lafarge WAPCO Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Oshunkeye in his opening remark said that the cement factory had continually been partnering with Nigeria in her quest for socio-economic development of the country.

'Having fulfilled the national desire to establish a cement manufacturing company, Larfarge WAPCO, since its establishment in 1959 has grown sustainably and made tremendous contributions to the availability of cement in the country,' he added.

Osunkeye said that the company had a current combined capacity of 2 million tonnes per annum.

Dignitaries that attended the ceremony included the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Mrs. Olusola Oworu, Commissioner for Commerce and Industries, who represented the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.

Others in attendance were former Head of Interim Government, Chief Ernest Sonekan, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Investment, Mr.Olusegun Aganga , the Alake and Paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba (Dr) Micheal Sonariwo.