Uche Usim, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday said there was a nexus between a vibrant commodities market and a robust economy as the former remains a catalyst for job creation and poverty reduction.
Osinbajo stated this at the beginning of a two-day International Conference on the Nigerian Commodities Market (ICNCM 2020) with the theme: ‘Commodities Trading Ecosystem: Key to diversifying Nigeria’s economy’ organised by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Abuja.
Represented by Ambassador Maryam Katagun, the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, the Osinbajo stated that Nigeria is endowed with favourable atmospheric conditions for farming as well as abundant natural resources and a teeming young population.
According to him, the efficient use of resources will benefit both the public and private sectors of the economy.
His statement read: “With a vibrant commodities markets, jobs will be created. Poverty will be reduced microeconomic situation of the country will improve.
“Definitely every responsible government is interested in seeing these improvements and this is at the heart of our administration’s policies and projects implementation
“In realisation of these objectives, the federal government has put many initiatives in place to develop the agriculture and solid mineral sectors,” stated the Vice President.
In her address, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, noted that the theme of the conference has always been relevant in Nigeria’s national discourse as several national plans, programmes and projects have targeted diversifying the production and revenue sectors of the economy.
According to the minister, while achievements have been made in these areas, there was the need to do more to ensure that the country’s production and export base is more robust and less vulnerable to external shocks; as well as providing more opportunities for the growing population.
She noted that the recent outbreak of the novel Coronavirus has further strengthened the Federal Government’s resolve to diversify the economy, describing the theme of the conference as apt and timely.
“With the topics that have been scheduled in this two-day event and the quality of the speakers, I am further assured that the outcomes of this conference will be beneficial to the Capital Market but most importantly to the national economy. Through this conference, I can see the Capital Market community add its voice to the need to further diversify our economy, while also suggesting that one of the ways to this is to develop a vibrant commodities trading ecosystem. Our country is well endowed with various commodities comprising agriculture, energy and mineral resources. For instance, the agricultural sector employs about 40 per cent of our labour force and accounts for 22% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP),” Ahmed said.
In her opening remarks, the Acting Director-General of the SEC, Ms Mary Uduk, said one of the key initiatives of the 10-year capital market master plan was the development of a thriving commodities trading ecosystem as part of the capital market’s contribution to the national economy.
According to her, while it is clear that Nigeria is well endowed with agricultural, metals and energy commodities, the country’s potentials in these areas are yet to be realised.
“The good news, however, is that the capital market can be used as an avenue to unlock these potentials and diversify the nation’s economy, while providing jobs, creating values and contributing to governments’ revenue.
“We believe that if we can develop and institutionalise a vibrant commodities trading ecosystem in Nigeria, we can substantially address problems such as lack of storage, poor pricing, non-standardization, as well as low foreign exchange earnings affecting our agriculture and other commodities sub-sectors,” she said.
Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Chairman, Senate Committee on Capital Market, while commending the SEC for organising the programme, noted that the conference will provide a platform for stakeholders exchange ideas for the purpose of diversifying the Nigerian economy.