By G9ija

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, believes Nigeria is on the right path to economic diversification focusing on non-oil exports, with the zero-oil plan actively promoted by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).

Professor Osinbajo stated this on Thursday when he received a delegation from the NEPC led by its outgoing Executive Director/CEO, Mr Segun Awolowo.

“We are set on the right path, and I like the fact that we are focused on non-oil exports, and we are facing the challenges and we are facing them head-on,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande.

“In the next few years, those of us who are policymakers and looking at the future, must, today, have a plan. In fact, we have set ourselves on an inevitable course of a zero-oil plan.”

The Vice President commended the outgoing NEPC chief for his foresight, and for putting in place a well-structured and detailed plan.

According to him, it is important to note that Nigeria is certainly getting away from the oil and gas era.

“In the past, we used to think that it will still take a while but today, with the circumstances and all of the various factors around the world (less dependence on oil, climate change, and COP), it is inevitable,” Professor Osinbajo stated. “Public investments from the EU, from the multilateral organisations for oil and gas, are fizzling out.”

“The Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP) is a natural progression for the Zero-Oil Plan,” he said of the efforts put in place by the NEPC to realise the government’s objectives. “If you say you have a zero-oil plan, then you must have a way of improving exports in particular because oil is our major foreign exchange earnings.

“So, if you are going to replace it, then you must have a robust plan, and I think that the EEFP is an incredibly wide door for exports in our country.”

The Vice President tasked stakeholders in the sector to brace up for the challenges ahead, saying “the years to come will test our resolve even more because we are going to be challenging ourselves the more.”

In his remarks, Awolowo gave an overview of the EEFP which he said has been crucial to the economic diversification agenda of the government.

He also highlighted the significant increase in non-oil revenues which he said was at over N1 trillion – representing 15 per cent above the target set.

The outgoing NEPC chief commended the support the council enjoyed from the President and the Vice President in the discharge of its mandates, saying it enabled the council to significantly re-energise the country’s non-oil exports.

“For instance, the Export Development Fund of the NEPC has been activated for the first time under the Buhari administration through the Economic Sustainability Plan,” he said.

Awolowo said through the activities promoted by the council, Nigeria was on track in growing its non-oil sector and urged all stakeholders not to relent in their efforts.

He was accompanied on the visit by the management and some staff members of the council.