The First Quarter Economic Report for 2015 released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last week indicates a significant slide in Nigeria’s external trade. The report shows that Nigeria recorded an estimated total external trade of $26.74 billion in the first quarter of 2015. This decline of 27.2 percent from level recorded in the corresponding quarter in 2014. Figures recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) have also corroborated the steep decline in our external trade. This poor economic outlook is a challenge to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration that is yet to come out with its economic blueprint.
The report also revealed that the crude oil and gas exports components of our external trade declined from $18.96bn and $20.85bn in the fourth quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 to $13.30bn. This accounted for 92.9 percent of aggregate exorts of the period under review.
The non-oil sector, which could have made up for the losses in crude oil sale, fell by 8.9 percent, while foreign inflows dropped by 28.7 percent. This CBN report calls for greater diversification of the economy. Agriculture and the solid minerals sector should be further developed to boost the economy. Impetus should be given to the manufacturing sector with particular emphasis on export products. It bears repeating that now is the time to look beyond oil as Nigeria’s main revenue earner.