Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Wednesday called for urgent diversification of the Nigerian economy to lessen national reliance on crude oil, saying the country must invest in agriculture and small and medium scale enterprises.
“The theme of your study tour —Economic Diversification and National Development in Nigeria —is very apt. The time has come for us to diversify our economy and drive growth to cope with our surging population,” AbdulRazaq said in Ilorin during a meeting with the participants of Course 28 of the National Defence College who were on a study tour of Kwara State.
“Our security as a country is directly linked to our ability to engage our population in productive endeavour and guarantee food security.”
AbdulRazaq said his administration is prioritising small and medium scale businesses and agroprocessing.
He added: “Kwara State under us is engaging with various companies to grow small and medium scale businesses. We are also encouraging bigger corporations to deepen their investments here. Very soon, the Kwara State Social Investment Programme will come on stream, especially targeted at lifting the poorest out of poverty line, empowering the artisans and small business owners and teaching skills to thousands of others.
“We do not claim to know it all. Please feel free to offer us your own insights on how to achieve more in our journey to build a viable state.”
Speaking earlier at an event commemorating the World Food Day, AbdulRazaq said Kwara will partner with various stakeholders to ensure food security, especially sugar production which he identifies as major comparative advantage for the state.
“The way forward is agriculture and agroprocessing. That is our future. We are in central part of Nigeria and Kwara alone can feed the nation. This is particularly true in sugar production where we have the potentials to feed the whole country,” he said, citing the upcoming $350m sugar refinery by BUA Group, the coming on board of the Dangote Group and ongoing talks with AMCON to revive the Bacita Sugar Company in the state.
The Governor also restated his commitment to lift as many poorest of the poor as possible out of the poverty line through the Social Investment Programme that is currently with the State House of Assembly, hoping that investments in small enterprises would spread prosperity and comfortably bring more people into the tax net of the state.
Responding, Commodore Henry Hassan, leader of the Course 28, commended the Governor for his giant strides in helping the people, adding that his “unusual way of mobilising your men to go to the grassroots and see things for themselves” stands him out as a great leader.
Hassan said his team would share their research outcome with the administration as part of the overall national strategy to ensure food security and development.