A World Bank consultant and former Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning in Abia State, Philips Nto, said that the devaluation of naira is posing a serious threat to Nigerian families.
Nto said this while fielding questions from journalists at a summit in Lagos.
The former Provost, Abia State College of Education Technical Arochukwu also disclosed that the nation’s over-dependence on crude is the major contributor to the suffering in the country.
He stressed that Nigeria’s over 200 million population and arable land is a gift for the nation economically.
He frowned at a situation where the country has been turned into a consuming entity for other nations who leverage on that to exploit the country.
“The Nigerian economy, unfortunately, has a very weak foundation. It is really worrisome that we expect a superstructure to stand on a shallow foundation.
“We have a nation boasting of a population in excess of 200 million, which should be an advantage and for which other countries envy us.
“We have a land mass of over 920,000 square kilometres, which is very arable, very fertile, again, which should be an advantage. We have agro friendly climate which is lacking in many countries we import from. Yet we depend on food imports to meet our food needs. Conversely, other nations like China exploit our large market,” Nto said.
He expressed concern about Northern farmers’ inability to go to farm again as an aftermath of insecurity.
He added that the devaluation of the nation’s currency is further making Nigerians poorer.
He said, “Even the northern farmers can no longer go to the farms because of insecurity. Our industries are closed because of so many production risk factors. So, we are now a consumptive country entirely dependent on imports. That is the sad situation and that is what is pushing up the inflation rate which is now at about 25 percent.
“The consequences are that poverty is ravaging the land. Families that were hitherto categorized as middle-income earners have descended to low-income earners while those who before now were low-income earners have gone down to be the poorest of the poor.
” We are now described as the poverty capital of the world. Before now, the index to categorize a poor family was those living below one dollar a day. Now, with a dollar exchanging for one thousand, two hundred naira, many families in Nigeria are in serious trouble. Our over-dependence on crude oil is our bane.
“You cannot leave your economy to be controlled by the international market when you are producing and exporting next to nothing. So, we urgently need to diversify our economy. We have potential areas like entertainment, agriculture, digital economy and micro, small and medium enterprises which all need the support of government to flourish. I believe that is what we need as an escape route from this excruciating poverty in Nigeria.”