BENIN CITY – The pursuit of true Federalism must go beyond increased powers for the states, local governments must equally be given additional leverage for a measure of economic autonomy, hence, any future plans for Nigeria’s restructuring should include an enhanced sharing formula for the local communities from which rich mineral resources are derived.
This remark was contained in a presentation by a foundation member of the Washington (U.S) based Economic Forum for West Africa, Mr. William Otabor who said that the Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State has flourishing natural potentials to be economically viable and nationally competitive.
Mr. Otabor was speaking at a Zoom conference convened by an on-line social media network, Global Business Africa, for Nigerians in the United States with expertise in finance and development economics.
According to Mr. Otabor, who holds extensive foreign academic credentials with rich working background in the fields of Energy, Trade, Finance and Africa’s Economic Development , ‘’ there’s an urgency for both the Federal and State Governments in Nigeria to create the enabling eco-system for third tier administrations to modernize their strategies for boosting internally generated revenues.’’
The international finance and economics expert contended that a geo-political entity like Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Council should not by any means be in fiscal deficit taking into consideration the status of the area as an outstanding food-and oil producing community in the state and the nation.
As Mr. Otabor observed “the natural resources of our local government are immense, we are blessed with a good network of water resources including the Ikpoba River; our land is fertile for cultivation of various agricultural produce, we have such a facility like the now moribund Bendel Brewery in addition to the oil wealth in our locality. From these varieties of God’s abundance, we should be able to build a strong local economy for the benefits of our people”.
He further argued, “why should our local government not take the lead in growing a commercially viable industry where we specialize on the cultivation of the rare species of fishes for which Ikpoba Okha is globally famous. We could also explore every means to link our water resources with potentials in the nation’s growing blue economy as well as tourism”, Mr. Otabor noted.
On the energy endowment of the locality, the international and economics expert stated that a program should be initiated immediately to commence the recruitment of Ikpoba Okha youths for training in various skills within the oil producing industry as a way of boosting employment in the buoyant global economic sector.
Mr. Otabor concluded his speech at the forum saying that he was “impressed with some of the economic initiatives being undertaken by Governor Obaseki as they bear potentials for an evolving South-South economic powerhouse in Nigeria.’’