Nigeria's reliance on oil as its primary booster for the country's economy has been an error in judgment, President Muhammadu Buhari said Wednesday. As the West African country teeters on the verge of recession — partly because of the plunge in oil prices over the past two years — Buhari said he was determined to diversify Nigeria's economy by branching out beyond the oil market, All Africa reported.
"We made a terrible mistake by becoming a mono-product economy hinged on oil, and we are now in a volatile situation, due to the crash in oil prices," Buhari said through his media adviser. "We are now fully committed to economic diversification. Most of the things on our import bills can be produced here. And we are determined to achieve that self-dependency."
Nigeria, which boasts Africa's largest economy, was warned this week by the governor of Nigeria’s central bank that it was on the brink of recession, the Wall Street Journal reported. The dire economic situation was tied to the fact that Nigeria is no longer the continent's chief crude exporter — Angola now enjoys that honor — and exacerbated by low oil prices. Godwin Emefiele, governor of Nigeria’s central bank, said the combination is preventing Nigeria from refreshing its oil reserves.
The price of oil — Nigeria's primary source of revenue — has dropped at least 35 percent, while the country's currency — the naira — has lost at least 25 percent of its value this year. Together, the two economic factors have reportedly reduced Nigeria's GDP from 6.3 percent in 2014 to 2.7 percent last year. As a result, the International Monetary Fund said, the country is facing "substantial challenges" in the areas of poverty and unemployment because of its reliance on oil revenue.
Buhari words on Nigeria's oil woes came one day before an oil facility in the country's Niger Delta was shut down Thursday after it was attacked by militants, Reuters reported. The attack earlier this month on Chevron's operation there resulted in an oil spill.