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Onasanya, Amamgbo Call for Diversification of Economy from Oil

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In its efforts to forge ahead despite the low oil price being experienced worldwide, some chief executives of banks in the country have advised the Federal Government to diversify the nation’s economy to be less of oil dependent as a means of revenue generation for the government.

The advise came up last week at the roundtable held by the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Bloomberg, Bank CEOs and Executives of the Oil and Gas Industries held at the NSE in Lagos.

The topic of the discussion was “The Nigerian Banking Environment in a low Oil Price World”. Panelists at the event said the country’s economy got to its present position due to its over dependence on oil.

According to one of the speakers, the Group CEO of First Bank Limited, Mr. Bisi Onasanya, the country’s over dependence on oil has led to a situation where 18 states in the country can’t pay workers’ salaries.

Onasanya, who expressed confidence that the situation could still be salvaged, advised that “we have an opportunity to rebuild our economy and all we need to do is to diversify to other sectors and move away from depending on oil”.

He added that action needed to be taken; “people don’t believe us when we say we can defend the naira there has to be adjustment in the value of the naira”.

In his own contribution, Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Peter Amamgbo, said the fall in oil price is a major challenge for Nigeria considering the fact that the country depends solely on oil.

He said the banking industry is also confronted with its own challenges, “but we have been battling seriously with all the challenges and we are doing all it takes to get out of it, if all the banks can come together, it is certain that we will overcome our challenges”.

He added: “the situation on ground is not a case of panic and I’m always surprised when people say the Central Bank should devalue. The problem is not for the apex bank to devalue, the market should be allowed to determine that”.

The Executive Director at UBA Plc, Mr. Femi Olaloku, pointed out that the country has a system that is better than what was obtainable ten years ago.

He also agreed with the other speakers that there was the need to diversify the economy, “CBN should partner with other arms of government for the country to come out of its present predicament”.

He advised that interest rate should be increased while we reduce our dependence on oil.

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