Budget and National Planning minister Udoma Udo Udoma, says Nigeria’s immediate priority is to get oil production output back to the desired level.
The step, he said, was necessary to secure the revenue needed to diversify the economy.
Udoma told the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Director for Africa, Mr Abdoulaye Mar Deiye, in Abuja.
He said that although the country is focused on diversification of its economy, it needs oil to get out of the oil-propelled economy.
The minister explained that though the global slump in oil prices introduced some shocks that affected the country’s economy, the immediate reason for the slump into recession is the massive reduction in output caused by militancy in the oil-bearing Niger Delta region.
While exploring a number of engagements that will ensure return of normal production activities in the region, the Minister said government is intensely focused on a long term economic agenda that will ensure sustainable economic growth and development.
The visiting UNDP Regional Director was briefed on the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERGP) that is currently being finalized by the Federal Government; a draft of which the Minister promised to share with the UN System for inputs before its finalization.
The Minister acknowledged the support of the UNDP particularly in the area of technical assistance, including capacity building and the humanitarian situation in the North East.
In his response, Mr Deiye was delighted that the Ministry of Budget and National Planning was given the coordinating role of the situation in the North East and indicated UNDP’s willingness to support the Ministry to ensure success in its defined goals.
He said UNDP is aware of the current complexity of the situation in Nigeria, particularly with respect to the security challenges and the oil price collapse, noting that the fall in oil price which is the country’s main source of revenue has also affected budget implementation.
Despite these challenges, he acknowledged that Nigeria still remains the largest economy in Africa.
The UN System at the Headquarters, he said, was happy with the leadership role of the Minister in tackling the situation, particularly with the adoption of the Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB) and the ongoing preparation of the economic recovery plan.
He advised Nigeria to fully harness the potentials in agriculture, admiring the beauty of Nigeria’s Agricultural framework and noting that Nigeria and Jordan have some of the best Agricultural frameworks in the world.