President Goodluck Jonathan has challenged the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) to come up with recommendations and policy direction on how to get the nation’s refineries to be fully operational.
The President gave the charge following recommendations presented by the Course 34 participants of the institute, on a research theme: Resource Diversification for Sustainable Economic Development in Nigeria.
President Jonathan had on February 28 at the inauguration of the course, told the participants to join in rescuing the nation from the dangerous stronghold of a mono economy and come up with needful policy recommendations.
For ten months the participants worked on the theme and on Thursday, they made their recommendations known to the President.
The participants observed that, although the transformation agenda of the Jonathan administration is commendable, they warned that the Nigerian economy is still over dependent on the export of crude oil and natural gas.
The presentation of their recommendation was made by four of the participants, led by the Monitor-General of the executive Course 34, Group Captain Clement Ogbeche.
They identified issues with the nation’s agriculture, power, human resources, education, solid minerals, infrastructure, petroleum and energy sectors.
In the petroleum sector, they compared Nigeria to Canada, a country which they claim has all its 16 refineries working while Nigeria struggles to get only four refineries working at full capacity.
The President, in his response, told them that the deregulation policy, which many had criticised was designed to attract the private sector to the economy and this he noted, would enable the construction of new refineries in the country.
He wondered why the institute (NIPPS) was not bold enough to recommend what the government should do to bring a turn around to the oil and gas sector to the advantage of Nigerians.
He noted that NIPPS is a policy formation centre for bureaucrats, private sector leaders, army officers and medium rank and senior civil servants which is aimed at conducting research and reflection for a better Nigeria.
The president used the opportunity to instruct the Ministry of Education to give a grant of N50million to the Plateau state based institute, to enable them tackle some of the administrative issues bothering the institute.
The Director-General of the institute, Prof Tijjani Mohammed-Bande, had earlier called for assistance with the institute which he claimed is grappling with a number of infrastructural challenges.