Dr Farida Waziri, the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), calls for the Nigerian economy diversification, in order for the country to rely less on the oil sector and oil revenues and boost other sectors, especially agriculture.
Dr Waziri spoke at the commissioning ceremony of the World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence Project, Centre for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER), at the Benue State University in Makurdi.
She stressed the importance and good timing of the project, noting that CEFTER’s aim is to promote and enhance agricultural productivity and industrial output for the socio-economic advancement of Nigeria and Africa. “I must admit that this can’t be coming at a better time than now when the new leadership of our country is already looking towards agriculture as a more reliable alternative to oil revenue,” she added.
“With the strategic location of CEFTER in the food basket of the nation, Benue state and the caliber of hands that have been put in charge to manage the project, I will wholeheartedly seek the support of the federal government, multi-nationals and well-meaning Nigerians and our friends across the country that this is one project all of us should support in the interest of our national economy and economic development of all.”
This support will, according to her, help reduce the over $4 billion estimated as the yearly post-harvest losses incurred by African countries.
Fielding questions from journalists, Waziri said long years of over-dependence on oil revenue is one of the driving forces of public and private sector corruption in the country.
“No doubt, our over-dependence on oil revenue has brought us to the point where we are as a nation today. As an anti-corruption czar, I have seen how some of those the nation entrusted with its oil resources in the past helped themselves more than the country.
“With our focus on agriculture, the struggle by political office-holders to steal oil fund would diminish while the national wealth will be in the hands of the people instead of a privileged greedy few. We cannot all dig oil wells in our backyard but we can all farm in our backyards. It is time to end oil-money induced corruption in our land by buying into President Buhari’s vision and take ownership.
“I have made my contributions in the fight to discourage that and even recovered some of the looted funds in billions of dollars. For daring to do that, I came under fierce attacks, slander, blackmail and threats, but by God’s grace and long years of experience, I survived all. I am glad today that indeed, there is a new sheriff in town.”
Dr Waziri commended Prof (Mrs) Charity Angya, the vice chancellor of BENSU, and the Dr Barnabas Achakpa Ikya, Project Manager of CEFTER, for making sure the project took off.
The Benue State University was chosen by the World Bank as one of its ten Africa Centre of Excellence Project.
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