‘If we are eating Abakiliki rice, Bende garri, we want a leader who will eat it with us’

​A Lecturer of Economics at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia, Rev. Fr. Innocent Ekeagwu, on Tuesday said Nigeria would rebound from the current economic recession in no distant time.

Ekeagwu in Umuahia said that the disposition of President Muhammadu Buhari to put the nation on the path of growth would aid the recovery.

“Nigerians are resilient and only need the right kind of leadership to turn around the economy.

“What Nigerians need now is a charismatic leader, who will carry the people along and you will be surprised at what the people can do.

“We need a leader who enjoys the confidence of Nigerians; a leader who is seen to be suffering with the people.

“If we are eating Abakiliki rice or Bende garri, we want a will who will eat it with us.

“Such a disposition by President Muhammadu Buhari will help to put the nation on the path of economic recovery, more than mere policy pronouncement, ‘’ the lecturer, also a clergyman, said.

He said that the economic recession did not come as a surprise to him because, according to him, “the signal has always been there.’’

Ekeagwu said, “All the while, Nigeria has been managing. The nation’s economy has not been doing well.’’

He said that successive administrations in the country did not listen to calls to diversify the economy.

“Past administrations lacked the political will to diversify the nation’s economy,’’ Ekeagwu said.

He blamed the political class for the bane of the nation’s economy.

The lecturer said that the discovery of oil, agriculture, which formed the mainstay of the defunct regions, was relegated to the background.

He said that the country’s aggregate supply and consumption of imports had been sustained by the revenue from oil.

“So, whether we produce internally or not, we were able to sustain our import-dependence with oil revenue,’’ Ekeagwu said.

He added that the nation’s dependence on mono-product economy left the country at the mercy of oil price volatility.

The economist said that the crashing of the oil price, coupled with the renewed Niger Delta militancy, made it difficult to sustain aggregate supply and consumption.

Ekeagwu said, “Because we have been import-dependent, what happened to oil market, in addition to the Niger Delta militancy, affectedthe nation’s income level.’’

He said that with the activities of Boko Haram in the North East, “there is no how the nation’s Gross Domestic Product can grow.’’

Ekeagwu said that the Nigerian economy would not have suffered recession “if the wealth from oil was used to diversify into agriculture, industrialisation and solid mineral sectors’’.

He wondered why the Lagos seaport should be the only functional and viable port in a country that was blessed with several seaports waiting to be developed for economic benefits.

“For instance, one wonders why the Federal Government cannot develop the Port Harcourt and Calabar seaports to augment the Lagos port and generate more revenue for the nation,’’ Ekeagwu said.

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