Nigeria: The Natural Resource Reserves - Sustainable Alternative to Buhari's Revenue-Push Policies

Nigeria is endowed with vast reserves of natural resources but solid minerals make only a minuscule contribution to the nation's GDP while the country continues to rely on oil and gas.
14 January 2020

Abuja — The Buhari administration has been struggling to meet its budgetary mandates as well as the President's campaign promises to Nigeria throughout its first term. This explains why revenue-push policies predominate the Finance Bill that was passed yesterday . Yet, some believe the policies may suffer from poor implementation like many in the past. This is partly because the present tax regime is becoming increasingly aggressive and fiscally lopsided .

Since Buhari's first re-entry as Nigeria's head of state in 2015, a lot of investments have gone into sector-based policies that pose as sustainable roadmaps to the revenue problems confronting the country. From the 100 billion naira funded Livestock Transformation Plan which seems to be implemented under the radar to other multi-billion dollars agriculture initiatives .

However, it seems Buhari's fiscal policy has been driven largely by a compulsive urge to generate revenue, rather than a carefully thought-out and balanced sectoral approach to raising government revenue. More worrisome is the larger impact the tax options he hurries to consider would have on the lower class .

Amidst the scramble for various channels to boost the federal government's revenue, Ms. Tosin Alagbe, a development practitioner and Programme Director at the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism ( PTCIJ ) commented that Buhari's government should pay attention to existing policy roadmaps that have a comprehensive and sustainable impact on Nigeria and its citizens. For instance "the Nigeria Mining Industry roadmap alone has potential employment for over 5 million people and over eight trillion naira revenue by 2025", Ms Alagbe remarked.

A Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) report showed another natural resource-based subsector, the Nigeria maritime sector has potential to generate 800,000 industrial and 10,000 maritime new jobs coupled with over one trillion nairas additional revenue, given improved port operations

Nigeria is endowed with vast reserves of mineral resources including crude oil, natural gas, tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, niobium, lead and zinc. The country's solid mineral deposits include talc, gypsum,  iron ore, lead/zinc, bentonite and baryte, gold, bitumen, coal, rock salt, gemstones, and kaolin. As at 2019, solid minerals contributed only about 0.3% to the nation's GDP while the oil and gas sector contributed 65% of the total revenue to the government. All of these is beside a vast arable land with rich biodiversity.

In essence, what the federal government needs to focus on is sustainable development rather than an impulsive irrational and insatiable thirst for revenue, which drives the Buhari administration to seek and sink in debts more than any of its forbears.

Sustainable development advocates the optimum use of resources to satisfy the needs of present and future generations. It aims to maintain economic advancement and progress while protecting the long-term value of the environment. Sustainable development is a commitment to social progress, environmental balance, and economic growth through the management of renewable resources for the good of the entire human and natural community.

For Nigeria's natural resource to deliver commensurate social and economic returns, increased attention and political commitment to its subsectors is required. Investment into sectors such as Agriculture, Maritime, Oil and Gas, and Solid Minerals must be matched with effective administration and accountability. Progressive environment-friendly policies and best practices will also help the mining sector to deliver more economic returns.

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