By Victoria Ojeme
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has urged that Nigeria must speedily develop its industrial zones or risks being a dumping ground for products from other nations under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Speaking while receiving the newly appointed Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority , Prof. Adesoji Adesugba in Abuja, the House Speaker declared that Nigeria faces enormous challenge ahead of the AfCFTA in the areas of manufacturing and industrialisation.
He said that Nigeria must act proactively so that it doesn’t become a dumping ground for other African nations.
“Our best option in this circumstance is to immediately set machinery in motion to ensure the effective functioning and flourishing of our Export Processing Zones. We must remove all bottlenecks and perfect all stumbling blocks. We will then be fully prepared for AFCTA and also generate massive jobs for our unemployed youth and enhance our foreign earnings,’’ the Speaker said.
Gbajabiamila who pledged the total support of the legislature for the revitalisation of the free trade zone insisted that “as things stands today, we have no choice than to make the free trade zones function productively.”
He asked how Nigeria can compete successfully in a post -Covid-19 world and under AFCTA regime? How can we ensure a sustainable recovery from the pandemic? How can we make Nigeria the number one investment destination?
“It is mainly by boosting our manufacturing and export capacity, the twin tasks the Export Processing Zones are set up to achieve. We in the legislature will provide legislative and budgetary support to NEPZA to achieve its mandate,” he said.
“I am particularly elated that President Muhammadu Buhari fished out and appointed a seasoned investment professional as the Managing Director of NEPZA. The President made the right choice and I personally convey our appreciation to Mr President for this.”
“I know the new MD very well, his passionate commitment to the sector is never in doubt and his readiness to deliver is well known within the Industry. I urge the new MD to put on his innovative cap by driving the robust functioning of the zones”, the House Speaker said.
Responding, Adesugba expressed appreciation of NEPZA for the pledges of support from the House Speaker , noting that such back up will spur him and his team to squarely face the challenging task of enthroning a robust , job creating and wealth making FTZs.
“On behalf of NEPZA, I assure Nigerians that we will take the bull by the horn. We will ensure effective functioning of the zones to generate jobs, wealth and industrialisation in line with the cardinal goals of President Muhammadu Buhari. Honourable Speaker, we are setting to work immediately and we hope to prepare Nigeria for AFCTA by easing investment inflow into the zones,” Adesugba said.
“I passionately shared your views on the need for proactive action on industrialisation. We truly have no choice as a nation. For us at NEPZA, this is a national challenge and we are determined to discharge this mandate with deep sense of responsibility”, the NEPZA Chief, noted.