Gbajabiamila pledges support, seeks revitalization of Nigerian trade zones for industrialization

•Warns against country becoming dumping ground for AFCTA members

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has pledged legislative support to help the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) in the quest of revitalizing free trade zones in the country in order to effectively compete among African Continental Trade Area (AFCTA) member state.

Speaking while receiving the Managing Director of NEPZA on Thursday in Abuja, the speaker noted that Nigeria must as a matter of national emergency ramp up industrialisation and manufacturing activities through the free trade zones to survive the African free trade regime.

He acknowledged the enormous challenges facing the country ahead of the AFCTA in the areas of manufacturing and industrialisation, “we must act proactively so that we don’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.

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Gbajabiamila who pledged the total support of the legislature for the revitalisation of the free trade zone insisted that “as things stand today, we have no choice than to make the free trade zones function productively.”

According to a statement made available to newsmen by Marins Odeh, Head, Corporate Communication of NEPZA, the speaker noted that “how can we 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.

“I am particularly elated that President Muhammadu Buhari fished out and appointed a seasoned investment professional as the Managing Director of NEPZA. Mr 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.

On his part, the MD of NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba commended the Speaker for the gesture, 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 the 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 getting to work immediately and we hope to prepare Nigeria for AFCTA by easing investment inflow into the zones.

“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 a deep sense of responsibility” he stated.

 

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