From Fred Itua, Abuja
DEPUTY President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to look beyond oil in its bid to secure economic prosperity for the country, stressing that the days of oil as a major foreign exchange earner for the nation were over.
Ekweremadu, who spoke at the one year anniversary of the Brickhall School, Abuja, founded by former Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Senator Joy Emordi, regretted that while the fruits of massive investment in human capital development made by the founding fathers of the country were still being reaped, education has been relegated to the background to the detriment of the nation.
The Deputy President of the Senate said: “Our economy is in the throes of pain today because we thought the oil windfall would last forever.
Even while it lasted, we dismantled all the necessary structures, such as fiscal federalism, that would have encouraged competitive development and massive investment in human capital to enable us maximise our vast potentials as a nation.
“Without prejudice to the place of petroleum resources in our national life, we must face the reality that the days of oil as super earner of foreign exchange are numbered, if not over.
Those who still look up to petroleum resources for the revival of Nigeria’s weather-beaten economy live in the past and are only building castles in the air.
“Prosperous global economies are knowledge-driven and the future only belongs to those who equip their citizens with quality education right from birth.
This is a major reason most African nations, including Nigeria, are abjectly poor despite their rich oil and mineral resources, whereas many of their contemporaries, such as South Korea, with very little or no mineral resources, are among the world’s leading economies.
“We must look beyond oil; and we must necessarily invest in education if we intend to make any headway. It is not a matter of choice, but a pressing imperative.”
Ekweremadu tasked the government, public-spirited individuals and businesses to prioritise support to educational institutions, whether private or public, through the provision of adequate supervision, infrastructure, grants, donations and tax rebates.