President Muhammadu Buhari has said that time has come for Nigeria to take its rightful place again in Cocoa production; to reduce over reliance on already shrinking oil revenues, adding that the continued decline of the commodity will no more be acceptable.
Buhari noted that before now, cocoa was the second largest foreign exchange earner for Nigeria after crude oil where over two million direct and indirect jobs were created along the value chain.
He said: “It is unfortunate that the sector has suffered neglect as a result of over reliance on crude oil, this has also unfortunately led to decline in the country’s annual production from 420,000 metric tonnes in the 60s to 192,000 metric tonnes in 2015, a situation that is no more acceptable to government.”
The Nigerian President said this on Monday in his keynote address to the opening ceremony of the First International Cocoa Summit holding in Abuja. Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, said government is very worried that the decline of Cocoa has moved the nation from her 4th position to 7th position in global Cocoa production.
He said that the country is long overdue to make the shift from being primarily an exporter of commodities and raw materials to becoming an industrial economy.
“Our Industrialisation ambition is hinged on the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) launched by the previous government of President Good luck Jonathan in 2014; it is now time to move that comprehensive document from the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) in view of current realities.”
He appealed to Nigerians to patronise made in Nigeria goods and services as a way of encouraging the industries to grow the economy.He called on the organisers of the summit to use it as a vehicle to instil confidence in local and foreign investors to invest in the Nigerian economy, and create a more robust and better competitive market for Cocoa subsector.
Earlier in her address, the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, said the theme of the summit, “Cocoa a Strategic commodity for National Economic Development,” underpins the nucleus of the present administration’s change Agenda. This intends to continue with policies aimed at diversifying the nation’s economy away from a mono-economy dependent almost entirely on revenue from oil exports to Agriculture, solid minerals and services.