The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, said on Wednesday that restoring Nigeria’s oil production output to the pre-crisis level was the federal government’s priority to realize sufficient revenue to help diversify the country’s economy.
Mr. Udoma told the United Nations Development Programme Regional Director for Africa, Abdoulaye Deiye, in Abuja, that although the country was focusing on diversification of its economy, it still needed to break away from the oil-propelled economy.
The minister said although the slump in global oil prices came with some shocks that affected the country’s economy, the immediate reason for the slump into recession was the massive reduction in oil output caused by the militancy in the oil-bearing Niger Delta region.
While exploring a number of engagements that will ensure return of normal production activities in the region, the Minister said government was intensely focused on a long term economic agenda for sustainable economic growth and development.
The visiting UNDP Regional Director was briefed on the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERGP) currently being finalised by the Federal Government. The minister promised to share the draft of the plan with the UN System for inputs before finalization.
He acknowledged the support of the UNDP, particularly in the area of technical assistance, including capacity building and the humanitarian situation in the North East.
In his response, Mr. Deiye said he was delighted that the Ministry of Budget and National Planning was given the coordinating role of the situation in the north-east. He indicated UNDP’s willingness to support the ministry to ensure success in its defined goals.
He said UNDP is aware of the current complexity of the situation in Nigeria, particularly with respect to the security challenges and the oil price collapse, noting that the fall in oil price which is the country’s main source of revenue has also affected budget implementation.
Despite these challenges, he acknowledged that Nigeria still remained the largest economy in Africa, disclosing that the UN system at the headquarters was happy with the minister and the leadership role he played to tackle the situation, particularly with the adoption of the zero-based budgeting (ZBB) and the ongoing preparation of the economic recovery plan.
He advised Nigeria to fully harness the potentials in agriculture, admiring the beauty of Nigeria’s agricultural framework and noting that Nigeria and Jordan have some of the best agricultural frameworks in the world.
The director therefore asked the minister to furnish the UNDP with areas of need that could be supported to ensure success in the execution of the ministry’s mandate.
He also expressed the appreciation of the UN to the Nigerian government for the renovation of the UN building in Abuja destroyed by a car bomb on August 26, 2011.
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