Contrary to what many might think, Nigeria’s foremost economist and founder of Lagos Business School, Prof. Pat Utomi, has described the present economic recession in the country, not as a curse, but a blessing to the entire country, adding he prays oil prices stay down.
Utomi who made this declaration at Ugboku, Edo state, at the groundbreaking ceremony of the $100 million Integrated Produce City (IPC), asked Nigerians to see the present economic recession as a golden opportunity to right our economic wrongs.
According to him, the recession presents an opportunity to finally get the Nigerian economy right, revealing that he prayed for oil prices to stay down and stay down for a long time for Nigerians to come to their senses.
“Let me shock you by saying that the recession we face in Nigeria is a golden opportunity. It is not a problem; it is an opportunity to finally get the Nigerian economy right.
“So without appearing to scandalise anybody, I actually pray for oil prices to stay down and stay down for a long time. Then, we will come to our senses and we will know that Nigeria really is a rich country.
“Right now, we are not behaving as we should be behaving. Competitively driven industrial policy in select value chains will be helpful in confronting the misery index and bringing hope to millions”, Prof. Utomi said.
He explained that the project Integrated Produce was unique because it aims to confront the biggest monster facing agriculture in Nigeria.
He listed the monster as yielding losses, the poor returns that farmers get, as middle men scoop everything up, the profits that slip away in these kinds of disarticulated markets and the poor infrastructure challenge that face people in agriculture.
The Integrated Produce City (IPC), located at Ugbokun community in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State, is a private initiative of Prof. Utomi in collaboration with other investors.
In his speech, Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who performed the ground-breaking ceremony on behalf of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, described the Integrated Produce City as a commitment by the investors to combat poverty, saying that it is the first produce city in the heart of Benin kingdom.
“Today we are having the first produce city right in the heart of Benin Kingdom few minutes’ drive from Benin City. I want to appreciate you, your wife, your boss because we know that the neck controls the head.
“This is an event that will kick-start what will add meaning and values to thousands of people both within and outside here. What you have done by this initiative is to demonstrate that there are Nigerians who have those qualities that we celebrate elsewhere. All those who teach can also practicalise what they teach.
“This gathering couldn’t have been better not just what we have been telling people in the past three months that our candidate said he would create 200,000 jobs. Many believe that it is not possible and that brings you to two divide of Nigerians that we have; those who believe that our future lies in that lazy tradition of extracting the liquid gold and exporting it with little or no value to it, bring dollar home, quarrel over sharing it do some symbolic public toilets and buildings, and then privatise the rest and export more,” he said.
While thanking all the foreign partners to IPC for showing confidence that they can come and invest in the state, the Governor admonished the host community to regard the project and defend it as their own as they stand to benefit more.