By Hilary Akalugwu
Nsukka (Enugu State) – Some residents of Nsukka, Enugu State, have called on the Federal Government to give priority attention to improved electricity and fuel supply in 2018 as a strategy to boost the economy.
The residents spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in interviews in Nsukka on Wednesday.
A lawyer and rights campaigner, Mr Jude Ugwuja, said that the government should ensure local refining of petroleum products next year to address fuel scarcity.
He said that incessant fuel scarcity in Nigeria had adverse affects on the economy.
“The government should commit more resources to repair and upgrade our refineries to operate in full capacity in 2018.
“This will help to stabilise the prices of petroleum products and end fuel scarcity.
“If Nigeria continues to produce crude oil and sends it abroad for refining, the country will continue to experience petrol scarcity.
“It is sad that Nigeria, a leading oil producer, cannot refine its petroleum products to meet local needs,’’ the lawyer said.
Mr Samuel Ezema, a lecturer in the Department of Economics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), said that steady power supply would stimulate every sector of the economy and create jobs.
“With steady power supply, local and foreign investors will be willing to invest in the country.
“Investors will like to set up businesses in the country, generating millions of employment.
“If the power sector is fixed, small-scale businesses will spring up in every nook and cranny,’’ the don said.
The Traditional Ruler of Okpuje Community, Igwe Oliver Ayogu, told NAN that the government should invest more in agriculture for rapid economic growth.
Ayogu said that improved agriculture would facilitate achievement of food security and earn more foreign exchange for Nigeria.
He, however, hailed the Muhammadu Buhari administration for efforts so far to boost agriculture.
“Early this year, there was much increase in prices of foodstuffs but today the prices have reduced because of government’s special attention to all issues concerning agriculture.
“Earning power of rural farmers has received a boost; farmers even boast of bumper harvest.
“Various agricultural programmes have also provided employments to thousands of graduates in the country, thereby reducing joblessness and youth restiveness,’’ Ayogu added.
Mrs Ngozi Ugwuoke, who retired from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, told NAN that the government should focus more on agriculture “because it is a heavy foreign exchange earner’’.
“In the 1960s and 1970s, agriculture was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, as older universities such as UNN and University of Ibadan were built from its proceeds.
“The Nigerian economy at the time was also superb.
“People from different parts of the world longed to come to Nigeria as the economy was robust; food was enough, and many people were employed in farm settlements,’’ Ugwuoke said. (NAN)