Ezekwesili’s Prayer for Nigeria’s Oil to Dry Up ‘Wrong’ ,Says Comrade Aremu



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By Danlami Nmodu

Vice President of  Nigeria  Labour Congress, NLC  and General Secretary of Textile Workers’ Union, Comrade Issa Aremu has disagreed vehemently  with Dr Oby Ezekwesili  over her prayers that Nigeria’s oil should dry up.”Ezekwesili is wrong” Aremu said in Abuja at a Roundtable and Presentation of Research Report with the theme:”Accelerating Industrialization for Boosting Intra-African Trade” at Chelsea Hotel,Wuse 2.

Aremu said Ezekwesili  could also be accused of being part of those that failed to diversify Nigeria’s economy having served as a minister, and being part of ( former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s )Economic team.More fundamentally, the General secretary of textile workers’ union said crude oil or natural gas  should not necessarily be seen as a curse.He believes Nigeria should be emphasizing using the resources to develop petrochemical and allied industries.He cited the examples of China, Venezuela ,Norway and even the UK that are making strategic choices  with respect to oil.

The NLC chief  believes Nigeria should be making strategic investments too.’We should not lazily keep on praying that oil and gas should dry up’, Aremu said.He spoke while giving his remarks at the Roundtable   organized by the Labour unions with the support of Friederich Ebert Stiftung .Aremus used the occasion to call on government  to fix the nation’s refineries and halt importation of fuel.He hinted that the unions would henceforth intensify their advocacy.

The event was part of the programmes  to mark Tuesday’s Africa Industrialization Day.Though the two -decade long event has been marked regularly, the labour unionist noted that Africa remains sadly backward.Despite the awareness about the industrialization day Aremu remains sad  that 30 out of the world’s least industrialized countries are in Africa with Nigeria being part of them. He also recalled that in IMF’s list of 24 countries categorized as emerging, only South Africa is  the African country  on the list.He admonished Nigeria to learn from China to leapfrog into the  industrial age.

Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna state who was represented by Mohammed Yusuf Lere, his special adviser  used the occasion to adumbrate some the reforms in the state toward  attracting investments.Especially he said , there is   renewed interest in the   development of solar powered electricity in conjunction with some German firms; infrastructural facilities  such as road are  being developed  and access to land is being made alot easier.He urged investors to also take advantage of Kaduna’s proximity to Abuja.

Mr Thomas Maettig,Resident Representative of FES -who received great accolades from Aremu earlier  because of his consistent partnership with key stakeholders- also noted that Nigeria was once an industrial hopeful.He observed that Nigeria  is presently an economy that is falling behind while  also suggesting among others, that agriculture should be given adequate impetus.Maettig said FES is supporting  labour movement on these critical issues  bordering industrialization  to strengthen policy dialogue.He said there is  no doubt that Nigeria can become an industrial power house.

Representatives of MAN,UNIDO and BOI  also gave their solidarity messages.Senator Walid Jibrin, a textile industry insider also gave his insight into the challenges facing industries in Nigeria.The research titled:Industrial Development in Nigeria:Performance,Policy Issues, Constraints and Prospects  was authored by  Professor  E. Olawale  Ogunkola ,department of Economics, University of Ibadan.


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