The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, weekend hinted that despite Nigeria being the second largest producer of steel and iron ore in Africa, the federal government commits over N500 billion ($3.3 billion) every year to importion of roofing sheets, nails, rooof tiles, headpans, wire gauze among others, which are produced from steel and iron minerals.
Aganga stated this in Ilorin, Kwara state capital, during a pre-commissioning visit to the cold roll mill project of Kamwire Steel Industries, Ilorin.
According to him, “the money spent on the importation may increase from $3.3 billion to $15 billion in the next decades if necessary measures were not put in place in the nation’s industrial policy”.
Aganga, noted that any country that relies entirely on exporting raw materials without having a strong industrial and related services sector would remain poor.
“So, if people like Alhaji Kamaldeen Yusuf and others do not do what they are doing, we will remain poor as a nation; our youths will not have jobs in this country. That is why it is important we all embrace industrial revolution plan and encourage industrialization”, he said. The minister, who said the industry presently creates more than 3,000 jobs, added that the employment capacity could increase to 9,000, going by industrial standard and talking of the end users like housing industry etc.
He also described the sector as the backbone of economic or industrial development of any nation, saying the country is blessed for having one of its our own leading in that sector.
Aganga, therefore, said the federal government would continue to create enabling environment for private sector to drive the economy, adding that “that is what we have done so far and which we need to do a little bit more”.
The minister, who said the Industrial Revolution plan of the present government is the most robust and comprehensive industrial plan Nigeria has ever had, adding that the objective of the policy was to diversify the nation’s economy and revenue sources.
“We have made a mistake for decades thinking we are a rich nation exporting crude oil, thinking we have money. But we do not have money. I was a Finance Minister, so I know. We may have that competitive advantage but what makes us different is what you do with that competitive advantage. When you have crude oil and you export it, they pay you for that crude oil; the price of crude oil is coming down. But let us say they pay you $100 per barrel. You get that money and you are happy that you have gotten money. They take your crude oil, process it, create jobs in their economy, they add value to it and sell it back to you, and you take that $100 and more to buy back. How rich are you as a nation?
“But when you have a different structure in the country where you still sell it at $100 per barrel to an investment here in this country. You sell it to that company and still makes that money. That company processes it in this country, it creates jobs in this country, it pays people their salary including factory people; the company also pays corporate tax to the government. Those are two other sources of revenue. They sell their products and above all they sell it to Nigerian people. There is no strain on our foreign reserve and they can export to generate export earning. That is what makes sense and that is what makes economy grow. That is why we came up with the industrial revolution plan”, he said.
culled from This Day