Dr Kayode Fayemi, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, says Nigeria must diversify its economy to save the nation from the agony of oil price fall at the international market.
Fayemi made the declaration as the Guest Lecturer at the 3rd Chief John Odeyemi Annual Lecture, which was held at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the lecture was titled: “Harnessing our natural and cultural heritage for national development”.
Fayemi said that Nigeria was blessed with natural and cultural endowment than could put it in the limelight economically.
He said that policymakers and observers had warned that Nigeria’s continued dependence on oil as the mainstay of the economy was bound to disrupt long term economic growth and development.
“By the early 80s, Nigeria was gravely indebted having borrowed against future oil revenue as lured the government effectively to bankruptcy.”
Fayemi urged both the government and private organisation to invest in the solid minerals sector with a view to plan for long term human development rather than instant gratification.
The chairman of the occasion, Prof. Jide Alo, the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic and Research, University of Lagos, commended the organiser of the lecture for choosing the theme for the occasion.
Alo said that the theme was chosen at time “Nigeria is facing economic challenges due to the over reliance on the oil sector; now that it fails, Nigeria needs diversification.”
“Our natural and cultural heritage could be used to revive Nigeria economy,” he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director of Natural History Museum, OAU, Dr Adisa Ogunfolakan, said “our over dependency on crude oil has led us into the situation we found ourselves and this calls for sober reflection.”
Ogunfolakan said that this year’s edition and theme was chosen in order to look for a way forward to address the current economic challenges.
The celebrant, Dr John Odeyemi, who marked his 77th year birthday thanked God for sparing his life.
Odeyemi called on well meaning Nigerians to donate and contribute in different ways to the development of the museum to harness “our natural and cultural heritage for our Nation’s development.”
Among those who graced the occasion included Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun, who was represented by former Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Sikiru Ayedun and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi , among others.