For the first time in the history of Nigeria's budget, non-oil revenue projection has hit N4.165 trillion in the 2018 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 7, 2017.
According to the Federal Government, the projection is in line with its Economic and Recovery Growth Plan, signalling a gradual shift from oil whose dwindling fortunes is becoming a reality.
A breakdown of the non-oil revenue by Daily Trust in the 2018 budget shows that N794.7 billion is to be realized from share of companies income tax while value added take was projected at N207 billion. The Federal Government's independent generated revenue stood at N847.9bn while amnesty income tax was placed at N87.8bn.
Various recoveries are expected to add N512.4 billion and N710 billion from the proceeds of restructuring of government's equity while other sundry incomes to be realized were projected at N678.14bn.
Other productive sectors must be engaged - Financial experts
An economist and current Head, Banking and Finance at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Dr. Uche Uwaleke, commended the Federal Government's effort in ensuring the recovery of the economy. He however stressed the need for engagement of other productive sectors like agriculture, solid minerals, tourism and manufacturing that can help to boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
"The need for a solid and sustained growth of the economy and improved export base can only be achieved through improving the agricultural, solid minerals, manufacturing and other critical sectors of the economy which must be functional and significantly contributing to foreign trade and profit of the country," he said.
The don said the current composition of the budget showed that a large percentage of revenue will still come from oil because company tax and other revenue from recoveries cannot be ascertained yet. This shows Nigeria's economy is still dependent on a single product and should therefore be a source of worry.
"Although The Federal Inland Revenue Service Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) is laudable, which is ensuring that people come into the tax net, so many people in Nigeria still do not pay tax making, these projections seem unrealistic," he added.
A development expert and the Director of African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, also said there is a variance between projected parameters and the actual results as highlighted in the budget.
"When you look at the 2017 budget that was signed in June this year, what has been achieved is very little compared to what was projected especially in the aspect of revenue generations and capital projects. Although the economy is recovering, it is high time for more initiatives by the Federal Government apart from tax and proceeds from recovered loot to exploring other sectors that can make us achieve self-sufficiency," he said.
Sustenance of agricultural policies is the way out - Agric experts
The Head, Department of Food Technology at the University of Ibadan, Prof. Charles admitted that the issue of economy is very critical to the Nigerian setting.
"We all know that we just came out of recession and the issue of recession came about because we were solely dependent on oil revenue, thus because of the drop in oil revenue, our revenue as a nation also dropped.
"The solution in driving the economy in a long run is by promoting not only agriculture, but also agricultural produce which can be processed by adding value through the food value chains. At a time, agriculture was contributing about 40% of Nigeria's GDP before oil," he said.
He also said the importance of agriculture now cannot be overemphasised as the large sums of money realised from oil business is no longer realisable.
"As we talk, close to 70% of Nigerians are in the agricultural sector. So in terms of overall contribution to the GDP, agriculture is still very important, although its earnings are second to oil, it is still the greatest employer of labour," he added
The don maintained that developed economies have made job creation their major priority, adding that promotion of small scale industries is important as it will serve as catalyst to the larger industries.
He added that the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria can be funded to research on different policies which are aimed at boosting agricultural programmes, food production and manufacturing technology as it will go a long way in diverting attention from oil.
Similarly, Commissioner for Agriculture, Nasarawa State, Jameel Zakari, said the 2018 budget ought to have given more consideration to the agricultural sector as an ideal for an oil producing country like Nigeria that has suffered from the drop in the price of crude oil. He said agriculture will go a long way in job creation and reducing too much value attached to oil.
Zakari also advocated for the permeation of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ADP) of the Federal Government to the 36 states of the federation evenly so it can flexible and accessible to farmers.
He said that other agricultural programmes like the Youth Empowerment in Agricultural Programmes (YEAP) targeting more involvement of youths in agriculture, must be sustained for increased employment and boosting large scale production.