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Building Capacity Of Journalists In Statistics Reporting - :::...The Tide News Online:::...
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Building Capacity Of Journalists In Statistics Reporting



L-R: General Manager, Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation (RSBC), Medline Tador, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Rivers State Council, Mr Opaka Dokubo and General Manager, Rivers State Television (RSTV), Mr Tonye Ekong, during BBC media chart at Land Mark Hotel, Port Hacourt, recently. Photo: Prince Obinna Dele

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia, defines statistics as the study of the collection, organisation, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data.

A statistician is someone who is particularly well-versed in the application of statistics in varied, specific analyses.

Statisticians, however, increase their expertise via working in various fields and their importance in human endeavours somewhat made the United Nations (UN) to create a section — the UN Statistics Division (UNSD) — to assist countries in efforts to strengthen their national statistical systems.

The field of statistics is considered to be fundamental to human development activities and this awareness compelled the UN to fix October 20 as the World Statistics Day to strengthen public awareness of the important duties of statisticians in human endeavours.

However, observers maintain that the media have a critical role to play in promoting the importance of statistics in all national planning and development processes.

They, nonetheless, bemoan the perceived low level of advocacy and the lack of statistical culture in the society, as journalists, in particular, have little or no understanding of the methodological processes of data gathering, which are considered central to statistical information reporting.

Some concerned observers particularly bemoan the non-exposure of Nigerian journalists to the recent statistical products produced by the Nigerian Statistical System (NSS).

They note that the journalists have little idea of the importance and application of such products in planning, policy formulation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects.

Concerned by the development, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), recently organised a three-day national statistical workshop for journalists in Jos.

The workshop was meant to educate Nigerian journalists on how to use statistical information in their reportage, while stimulating their collaboration in statistical production.

Speaking at the workshop, Dr Yemi Kale, the Statistician-General of the Federation, noted that the NBS designed the programme to educate journalists on how to use statistical information in their stories.

Kale, who was represented by Mr George Oparaku, the Director (Real Sector and Household Statistics) of the NBS, said that the bureau considered the workshop’s organisation imperative in view of the journalists’ roles in the society.

“In essence, the workshop is part of the programme designed to carry the media along in the task of statistical production.

“The purpose of the workshop is to sensitise journalists on the importance of statistical products so as to enhance their application for planning, policy formulation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects,’’ he said.

Kale stressed that Nigeria particularly required robust and reliable statistics to enable it to monitor progress made in efforts to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The statistician-general, however, said that the Federal Government had designed a five-year plan from 2010 to 2014 to evolve a comprehensive National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS).

Kale said that the NSDS was intended to cover the country’s statistical system entirely, while bringing together all the relevant agencies across the country.

In his remarks, Gov. Jonah Jang of Plateau decried the use of falsified information in governments’ development plans.

Represented by Mr John Daduut, the Chairman of Plateau State Planning Commission, the governor said that there must be reliable and timely information to address the poverty situation in the country in particular.

“As you are all aware, efforts at poverty reduction are at the centre of government’s economic programmes.

“But this can only be realised when there is a clear understanding of the status of poverty in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Jang reiterated the state government’s determination to entrench a system that would eliminate the wrong attitude of falsifying information in development plans.

“We have already begun the process of reforming the state’s statistical system to enable it to cope with emerging challenges.

“The state’s statistical master plan, which will drive the reform process, has been produced and an executive bill to the state House of Assembly on the establishment of Plateau State Bureau of Statistics is being prepared,’’ he said.

Jang stressed that the society’s progress and development could never be attained if information on specific areas of need was falsified.

He pledged that the state government would revamp its statistical agency and provide it with all the necessary support to discharge its responsibilities of providing reliable socio-economic statistics for policy formulation, execution, monitoring and evaluation.

In his paper entitled “Current Statistical Survey and Programmes’’, Oparaku, the NBS director, called on journalists to uphold statistical laws.

He said that the Statistical Act of 2007 discouraged conflicts and duplications in statistical information.

According to him, the act empowers the NBS to coordinate statistical operations in the country and adopt consistent methodologies, in line with the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics.

Oparaku stressed that that the formulation and implementation of government policies would require a lot of data to achieve meaningful results.

“It is important to mention here that the media will be expected to play a critical role in promoting the importance of statistics in planning and national development,’’ he said.

The Director of the Legal Unit of the NBS, Mrs Yuonne Odu-Thomas, however, said that any statistical information released to the public without the input of the NBS was unofficial.

In a paper entitled “Strengthening the National Statistical System: The Legal Perspective’’, Odu-Thomas said that although different organisations could conduct surveys, the results would remain invalid if the NBS was not involved.

She stressed that using statistical data wrongly or using wrong information was criminal, adding that legal actions could be instituted against offending individuals or organisations under the Statistical Act of 2007.

Odu-Thomas said that the Act provided an institutionalised framework for NSS and the NBS to reposition and strengthen the entire statistical system.

She said that the framework was aimed at collecting, compiling and analysing statistical information on all spheres of life.

In a paper entitled “The Media as a veritable Partner in Statistical Production’’, Mr Tola Akinmutimi, the Assistant Editor of a daily newspaper, called for the recognition of journalists as key stakeholders in the national statistical system.

He urged the NBS to involve journalists in statistical surveys, while sponsoring them to attend international conferences and workshops on statistics so as to enable them to have a better understanding of the issues involved in statistical production.

Akinmutimi urged the bureau to redefine its media relations by carrying journalists along in its task of processing data and disseminating statistical information.

He particularly stressed the need for regular interactions between the media and the NBS to improve working relationship.

All the same, the journalists who participated at the workshop called for increased funding from the three tiers of government to improve the NSS.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the workshop, it was recommended that government at all levels should increase funding of statistical activities to engender a robust national statistical system.

The workshop participants also recommended the enactment of enabling laws in order to have a dynamic national statistical system.

They, nonetheless, urged the NBS to be more proactive in efforts to supply the public with accurate and timely statistical information.

The participants also advised journalists to always verify official statistics from the NBS before disseminating reports, stressing that the media and the NBS ought to have an avenue for regular interactions via press briefings, workshops and conferences.

For consistent and coordinated statistical production and dissemination, the participants underscored the need for stronger collaboration among ministries, departments, agencies, the NBS and the media.  Abdulwahab is of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)


Abdullahi Abdulwahab

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Drug Abuse Effect: Matters Arising



According to the Black’sLaw Dictionary (Ninth  Edition), in its page 572, Drug Abuse is said to mean” The detrimental state produced by the repeated consumption of a narcotic or other potentially dangerous drug, other than as prescribed by a doctor to treat to treat an illness or other medical condition”, .
Google also described drug abuse as “The use of illegal drugs or the use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs for purposes other than those for which they are meant to be used, or in excessive amounts”, .
Drug abuse as it was learnt, may lead to social, physical, emotional, job-related problem. Today, the menace of drug abuse is so obvious in the the society in that , it has caused a lot of havoc in both both families and the entire society.
This bring to mind the rate at which crime is committed nowadays among young people. They do many things with ease including crime commission and execution. Then it was unheard of that one was beheaded after being killed.
But now, young people especially the cultists and crime predators among them, blame and scold any of their pals who succeeded in ‘ falling’ a perceived enemy without beheading same. To show his worth and to get the class approval he needed, he must kill and dismember the enemy just to spike him even at death.
Drug has been written about in many languages and by many people over the centuries. Many of these works are very useful in treatment for addiction, but few have the same impact as the Holy Bible. According to the Scriptures in Ist Peter Chaper five verses eight it generally condemned intoxication, which can read to also mean drug abuse.
It read thus: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil propels like a roaring lion looking for some to devour”, .It was also gathered that substance abuse or alcohol addiction dulls the mind. It makes it a fertile soil for destructive behaviour which leads to various level of crime participation and commission.
Some addicts may start from petty stealing just to afford money for drug. That is why the Holy Scriptures pointed out in Ephesians Chapter Five in the 18th verse tthusly: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit”.
Also the Quora in its Chapter Two in verses 219 said thus” They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, “In them is great sin and yet, some benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit “. And they ask you what they should spend. Say, “The excess beyond needs”.
No meaningful human environment has ever welcomed the idea of drug abuse. In some climes, abusers are often treated as lepers wherein even their family members and friends distance them. They treated some in that way so that they can retrace their steps and do the needful.
I was shockedto the marrow when I was told the items or substance that could be abused and lead to serious intoxication. Many have failed in this aspect and have permanently injured their brain. Some abuse even the human feases in the name of getting high.
Today, in our society there are many promising youths who have ran mad or suffering other sorts of brain disease due to drug abuse. Some started as a result of one night stand with friends. From there, there they became addicts.
These are the ones that are very gruesome in action. They maim, kill and live their victims in horrible state. They are no more humans in that their sense of responsibility has left them.They now from from the anus Instead of the brain given that the brain has been lost to drug abuse.
In no distance time, families and they society generally may not boast of producing quality people and good brain thinkers. In a chat with one Primary Teachers in one of our rural areas in the state, I was move to tears when he told me that five male siblings of same parents are now psychiatric patience due to drug abuse.
Now, if the is the case, in the next decade more families in that community may suffer same fate.Another family very known to me , share in the fate with that ‘teachers community’, wherein two hefty male adults of same parents are now visitor to the psychiatric hospital due to substance abuse. If the government did not act fast in this direction, the fate of the future generation will be in a serious jeopardy.
The most shocking aspect of the development is that female are not spared in the ugly trend. While growing up, ladies were hardly sipping beer in the open. They tutored to see such life style as masculine. They maintain a high level of decorum and was given the request protection and respect by their male counterparts who saw them as the ‘Weaker Vessels’, as the Scriptures made us to belief.
But presently, there is great contest between the male and female folks as to who should be adjudged to be the highest abusers of drug or substances. Many young ladies now roam the streets as a result of drug abuse. Night Clubs operators are, to my mind, the major sponsors of this venture, because some of them as reliably gathered, provide the ladies with free drugs and other substances.
Reason for the free drug provision by the Club owners for the ladies is to enable them be on fire. When on fire, it was gathered that it will take the ‘help’ , of a male partner who is also on ‘fire’, to quench hers. This, according to sources, bring about business boom in the Club.
Some of the ladies in the Night Clubs have testified to the fact that one one can live such lives without abusing drugs or other substances. Now if such revelation is anything to go by, why won’t drug abusers abound in the society? People must come together and fight against drug abuse. The government and other relevant agencies are concerned more about with what will be of immediate benefit to them before they will then consider its prons and cons.
This ugly situation which is gradually becoming the talk-of-the- day is a respected of no man.Some time last month, it was rumoured that a son of a prominent Nigerian was spotted at the road side dipping slices of bread in a stagnant water and eating same. When probed into, it was discovered that he was not only a substance abuse, but an addict of the highest order.
The Drug Law operatives have made it clear that they are always ready to partner any group or individual willing to under go rehabilitation free of charge. At a security Submit at Rumuibekwe in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, some time ago, a representative of the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, told the guests then how a woman’s headed was pounded with a mortar pestle to pieces by a drug addict who was under going rehabilitation in their facility in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the addict who was said to be from a rich family was withdrawn by her mother the same night she was killed on the ground that the facility was not befitting for her son. The Drug Law representative revealed that the addict was fast responding to treatment before the forceful withdrawal by mother.
Now the nucleus of this write up is for the Police authority to consider partnership with the NDLEA and fight drug abuse rather than focusing their Search Light on the OSPAC. The OSPAC just like every other human outfit, has its bad eggs. The bad eggs are not free of drug abuse, they could be fished out and made to under go rehabilitation.
The Police rather than give the OSPAC an un-undeserving attention, should in a jiffy, come in terms with the Drug Agency and flush the system. This will seriously check radicalism and the unwanton behaviour among OSPAC operatives.
From the above narratives and some definitions provided so far, it can then be accepted generally that crime commission is the result of drug abuse and other substances. If the listed agencies come together and fight against drug abuse, the excesses of the OSPAC will not only be nib in the bud, but the entire society will know peace, reason being the fact that the fountain of crime has been attacked and addressed.
History may not be kind to the callers of OSPAC’s neck going by the good they have done.
Let us not throw away the baby alongside with the bathwater..

By: King Onunwor

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Currency Swap: Nation In Search For Banknotes (1)



The restoration of the legal tender status of old N1,000, N500 and N200 Banknotes till December 31, 2023 following the judgment of the Supreme Court, triggered jubilation. Many Nigerians had thought that the decision of the apex court will end or at least cushion the scarcity of Banknotes as more notes were expected to be in circulation.  But the jubilation was short-lived as two weeks after the judgment, people are still looking for  both the old and Redesigned Banknotes like the traditional needle in a haystack.Recall that on  Friday, February 17, 2023 the agitation against the currency swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria assumed an alarming dimension in parts of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital especially the Ikoku Mile 3 area and the old Port Harcourt township, spanning Lagos Street to Churchill Street.  The protest which was initially peaceful suddenly turned violent with some banks and Automated Teller Machine facilities installed at affected banks were destroyed, when some suspected hoodlums infiltrated and hijacked the protests. It took the intervention of joint military and police operatives to quell the incident which would have degenerated to a major catastrophe. The grouse was an accumulated disenchantment over bank customers’ inability to access their money in Deposit Money Banks either across the counter withdrawal or other financial outlets like the Points of Sale and the Automated Teller Machines.
The situation was compounded by the rejection of the old N1000, N500, and N200 Banknotes by traders and petrol stations which the Central Bank said their legal tender status expired on February 10, without availing customers the right to access the Redesigned Banknotes. Recall that on  October 26,  2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria initiated a new financial policy. The policy covers the redesigning of some denominations of the Naira notes. They are the N1,000, N500 and N200. The Redesigned Naira notes was launched on Wednesday November 23, 2022 by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd). According to the Director of Banking Supervision of Central Bank of Nigeria, Haruna B. Mustafa, in line with the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, all Deposit Money Banks and other financial institutions were directed that: Minimum Cash withdrawal over the counter by individuals and corporate organisations per week shall be N100,000 and N500,000 respectively. Withdrawal above these limits shall attract a processing fee of five and ten percent respectively; Third party cheque above N50,000 shall not be eligible for payment over the counter; the maximum cash withdrawal per week via the Automated Teller Machine (ATM), shall be N100,000, subject to a maximum of N20,000 cash withdrawal per day; Only denominations of N200 and below shall be loaded into the Automated Teller Machines: and the maximum cash withdrawal at Point of Sale (PoS) terminal shall be N20,000 daily.
Consequently, Nigerians were given January 31 deadline to deposit those denominations of the Nigerian currency before they cease to become legal tender. However, currency swap deadline of January 31 has been extended by 10 days to expire on February 10 following the difficulties associated with getting the Redesigned Naira notes.Today, it is not saying a new thing that Nigerians are not finding it easy to access money deposited into banks for safe keep. Banks are crowded by customers. Though pro-currency swap groups claim that the crowd scenario was sponsored, stage managed and  the architecture of some politicians to discredit the policy. The crux of the matter was that the Redesigned Naira notes were not available at Points of Sale and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). This compounded the situation and heightened the pains of Nigerians in a country with a depressed economy. In desperation to get the Redesigned notes, some person paid N1,000 for every N10,000. A man also bartered his old N20,000 notes for N13,000 of the new currency thus losing N7,000 to enable him meet basic family necessities.While some bank customers were struggling to get the new notes at Automated Teller Machine points, some made brisk business cashing on the scarcity of the new Naira notes. You can trust the unscrupulous Nigerians who are poised to exploit every abnormal situation to amasse wealth and gains.
My worry was how could some person had had access to the New Currency to exchange for the old ones at a prohibitive and Shylock’s rate while genuine customers wallow in pain to get the new notes which most Automated Teller Machines were not dispensing. Customers went to bank and they could not be paid. They were told to make transfers or use the Automated Teller Machines that were not dispensing cash. On Friday, February 17, 2023  parts of Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, aggrieved youths protested the non acceptance of the old N1,000 and N500 Banknotes following the expiration of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s deadline. It took the timely intervention of the Rivers State Police Command to stem the degeneration of the protest to a major catastrophe.  To soothe frayed nerves over the hardship faced by Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday February 16, in a nation wide broadcast appealed for understanding as the Central Bank commits to implement the new financial policy while apologising for the inconveniences the alleged sabotage of the process had caused Nigerians.President Buhari harped on the merit of the currency swap policy on the economic, security and political stability of the country. He said the policy was designed to mop up about N2.7 trillion in circulation outside the Banking system and stated that the the non regulation of the whooping amount, distorts the financial policy and efficient management of inflation.
According to the President, some reasons underpinning the monetary policy decision are,  need to restore the statutory capacity of the Central Bank to keep a firm control over money circulation. “The huge volumes of bank notes outside the Banking system has proven to be practically unavailable for economic activities and thus retard the attainment of potential economic growth”, President Buhari said, he recalled that at the inception of his administration in 2015, “currency in circulation was only N1.4 trillion. The proportion of currency outside banks grew from 78 percent in 2015 to 85 percent in 2022. As of October, 2022 currency in circulation has risen to N3.23 trillion out of which only N500 billion was within the Banking system’. The financial swap, according to the President will deepen the continuing support for security agencies to successfully fight against crime and criminality, including ransom-taking.He claimed that the money swap policy has attained a significant level of achievement, with N2.1 trillion of the Banknotes outside the Banking system recovered. The policy will lower the inflation trend consequent upon the reduction of money supply, stemming of illegal economic activities, and corrupt practices as well as conscious effort to inject sanity into the electoral system by discouraging vote-buying and monetisation of the Elections, are some reasons the President advanced in support of the policy.
The Monetary policy is not without challenges. To ameliorate the plight of the people in accessing Banknotes, President Buhari said the old N200 Banknotes will be released and continue to be in circulation as legal tender for 60 days from February 10, 2023 to April 10, 2023.with the new N200, N500 and N1000 notes. The Special Adviser’ to the President on Media, Mallam Shehu Garba  had said, “Following series of enquiries, we wish to state that it is not true that the federal government or the CBN has taken a pre-emptive action on the legality of currency as a legal tender in view of the pendency of the case before the Supreme Court. “The position of the government and the CBN will be made known upon the determination of the suit coming up Wednesday.”Unfortunately, the Central Bank refused to wait for determination of the suit brought against it by some State governors before  the Supreme Court. The governor of Rivers State Chief Nyesom Wike, views the action of the Central Bank as contemptuous.The Supreme Court had in a ruling on February 8 suspended the CBN’s February 10 deadline to stop the use of old currency notes. The bank had ordered citizens to swap out old N1, 000, N500, and N200 banknotes for a redesigned currency by the deadline. But the apex court, ruling in an ex parte application by three states – Zamfara, Kogi and Kaduna – stopped the CBN from banning the old notes pending the hearing and determination of the case. It fixed February 15 for hearing.
Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele,  said the apex bank had noticed that some politicians were buying the new N200, N500 and N1, 000 for political purposes. A  coalition of 472 civil society organisations (CSOs) at a press conference in Abuja said that 10 state governors were mopping up the new naira notes in circulation in order to discredit the policy. Addressing the diplomatic community in Abuja, the CBN governor craved the support and understanding of the foreign missions and Nigerians, in general, towards the implementation of the cashless policy and in achieving the overall objectives of the naira redesign programme. “The CBN has also noticed that some politicians are buying the new notes and storing them for political purposes,” he said. Emefiele said the principal aim of the currency redesign initiative was to make monetary policy decisions more effective, adding that inflation has been trending downwards while the exchange rate has recorded some stability since the implementation of the policy. He said the apex bank remained committed to ensuring a seamless, inclusive, and equitable implementation of the exercise for the overall benefit and growth of Nigerians, the financial system, and the economy as a whole. He also said the programme sought to increase financial inclusion in the country by reducing the number of the unbanked population. Emefiele noted that there had been five reversals in the bank’s attempt to go cashless and promote financial inclusion since 2014, when he was first appointed CBN governor. He explained that the reversals were born out of the need to deepen the country’s payment infrastructure, adding that the payment system in Nigeria is now among the best six in the world.
Emefiele said the naira redesign policy was expected to curb inflation in the market, as less cash holding reduces currency outside banks and retards money circulation. He said the accompanying decline in money supply would slow the pace of inflation, adding, “We have started to see inflation trending downwards following general price stability in almost all genre of market, including for goods and financial products.” Emefiele also said the effective implementation of the policy could scrap four percentage points off the current level of inflation, which stood at 21.34 per cent, as it steadily slowed inflation rate to about 18 per cent by mid-2023. He said, “This is quite achievable, as data from our market sources indicate that the prices of grains and key staples, around Suleja and Lambata markets, for instance, have generally been on the downward trend since the beginning of the policy”.
He also said the policy had brought some stability to the exchange rate regime, and explained that prior to the announcement of the policy, the huge cash haul outside the banking system had exerted significant pressures on the exchange rate at all windows, but more so at the parallel market as it engendered asset substitution by speculators, and rent-seekers. Emefiele said: “While the policy was initially estimated to lead to more speculations due to panic moves, as most people try to understand the policy action, it is expected to reduce speculation in the medium- to long-run”.
To be continued in our next edition.

By: Igbiki Benibo

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Developing The Non-Oil Sector 



A common feature in the Christmas messages last year, was “hope”. From the political leaders to religious heads and many others, Nigerians were encouraged to be hopeful for a better Nigeria from this year and beyond despite the daunting challenges facing the nation. The citizens were urged to do everything within their powers to ensure that Nigeria bounces back again both economically and otherwise.
The most striking of them all was the message by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Hassan Mathew Kukah. It partly reads, “… So, we need a change of strategy so that we can turn a new page. We need a new strategy to confront those who sit on the throne of power in arrogance and are determined to reduce our country to a jungle. We need a new strategy that separates men and women of honour from those who have chosen dishonour. We need a new strategy that provides a clearer moral guide for ordinary citizens who, based on the moral strength of culture and religion, are seeking to build a good society, even if with straws. We need to stand up and stand firm. We need new mechanisms for saying no to the violence of governance”.
Indeed, in the coming year, 2023, there must be a deliberate effort to change how things have been done in the past in the country so as to birth a better Nigeria. One of the greatest desires of any nation is the need to build a resilient economic system that is self-sustaining, highly competitive, and externally visible. Citizens of every nation too desire a strong and reliable economy and a conducive environment where they could live and operate satisfactorily. To this end, nature endowed nations of the world with natural and human (intellectual) resources through which they could develop economically and sustain her citizens.
However, no country of the world, Nigeria inclusive, could grow or develop effectively despite her natural endowments without depending on another country. This growth is mostly enhanced through trade and export.Before Nigeria gained independence in 1960, her economy was dominated by trade and export and the non-oil sector (agricultural and solid mineral sub-sector) was the mainstay of her economy and the greatest foreign exchange earner contributing about 65 per cent of her (Nigeria) aggregate income.The non-oil economy can be defined as economic activities that are not directly or indirectly related to the petroleum and gas industries. These are the manufacturing, agriculture, services, telecommunications, the financial sector (banking and insurance) activities and tour operator (hotel, restaurant, park) aside others.
According to a recent research, seven non-oil activities in percentages contributed to the Nigeria Economy in Q2 of 2022 and they include Agriculture – 23.2 %, Trade- 16.8 %, Telecoms -15.0%, Manufacturing- 8.65 %, Crude oil and Gas -6.33 %, Real Estate -5.33% while Financial and Insurance contributed 4.25%. On August 23, 2022, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) announced that Nigeria exported over 4.146 million metric tons of non-oil products worth $2.593 billion from January to June 2022.
From the Executive Director of NEPC,  Dr Ezra Yakusak, the progress report of $2.593 billion represents a 62.37 per cent increase in non-oil export recorded in the year as against the $1.59 billion and $981.44 million recorded in the first half of 2021 and 2020 respectively. Yakusak said that the report was also the highest half year non-oil export performance since 2018 which contributed significantly to the nation’s economic growth in the face of a global economic recession that affected most businesses in 2021.
He said it also contributed to poverty alleviation, industrial development and foreign exchange employment earnings for the country. “The figures of 4.146 million metric tons of product worth $2.593 billion exported between January and June 2022 culled from the non-oil export performance reports of various pre-shipment inspection agents, reinforces NEPC’s campaign to embrace non-oil export trade as a viable means of economic growth,” he said.  The NEPC Executive Director equally hinted that over 200 different products, ranging from manufactured, semi-processed, solid minerals to raw agricultural products, were reportedly exported in the period under review.He said that unlike what was applicable in the past, products exported from the country were gradually shifting from the traditional agricultural products to semi-processed/manufactured goods.
Yakusak equally said that during the period under review there was no incidence of export rejections while different Nigerian products were exported to 112 countries including America, Asia, Europe, Oceania regions and some Africa countries adding that of this number Brazil, US and India were the top three export destinations based on the value of imports. “With 572 companies reportedly participating in exporting products, analysts’ belief it is an indication that Nigerian businesses are gradually embracing the diversification campaign of the NEPC by venturing into non-oil exports,” he said.
On their own part, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) said it is working assiduously with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies to end the rejection of Nigeria’s products in the international market. To this end, the Minister of FMITI, Otumba Adeniyi Adebayo, recently inaugurated a Technical Committee on Export Rejects charged with the responsibility of identifying the major causes of the rejection of the agro produce and proffering appropriate recommendations.
The committee headed by the Director, Commodities and Export Department, Mr. Suleiman Audu, is expected to make recommendations that would assist the promotion of non-oil commodity exports which had led to farmers and product aggregators partnering to explore the export market for their products. Before Nigeria gained her independence in 1960, her economy was mainly dominated by trade and export of non-oil producing products. With the discovery of crude oil, the country’s economic dependence shifted from non- oil products to crude oil. Today, the near negligence of non-oil products is having its toll on the nation’s economy.
Despite its abundant arable land and over 200 million people, Nigeria cannot feed its citizens.  Successive administrations at both federal and state levels have claimed to be investing in agriculture with little or nothing to show for it.  Rather, the country has become one of the largest importers of food in the world.  All kinds of good items from all over the world find their way into Nigeria.  We import wheat, sugar, fish, milk, vegetables, fruits, rice and other food items which could be abundantly produced locally. Incidentally, the constant plummeting of the naira has sky-rocketed the prices of virtually every item in the market.  The result is that many Nigerians today go hungry.  The incoming administration across all levels must therefore make improvement in agriculture, manufacturing, the creative industry and other non-oil sectors a top priority.
As stated earlier, the current administration claims to have done so well in exportation of non-oil products, although many Nigerians have disputed such bogus claims, the incoming government is therefore expected to take it a notch higher. Some stakeholders in the agricultural sector have posited that with over 79 million hectares of arable land, diversified ecological conditions, abundant water resources and adequate rainfall and sincere commitment by the government, poverty, joblessness, and hunger will be completely eliminated in the country and the country will have enough to export. But all these will remain a tall order, thereby dashing the hope of a better nation if the problems of insecurity and corruption are not sincerely dealt with.
Other issues affecting the non-oil sector like the weakening of the naira, lack of infrastructure, poor power supply and many others must be adequately addressed. The next leaders of the country must think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions that will skyrocket the Nigerian non-oil sector to an all-time high performance. It is important that Nigerians take their fate by their hand by ensuring that they elect the best persons that will pilot the affairs of government at various tiers of government in this general elections.

By:  Calista Ezeaku

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