By Chinyere Ogbonna – Nigeria’s government’s effort at diversifying the economy away from oil took a giant leap after the National Committee on Export Promotion Council (NCEP), set up by the federal government at its inaugural meeting, identified mainly six potential commodity products as alternative to oil.
The thirteen-man NCEP was instituted last week by the National Economic Council (NEC) Chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on export promotion. The committee has a Zero Oil Plan (ZOP) initiative to replace oil as the major source of foreign exchange earner by growing non-oil exports from the present five billion dollars approximately to thirty billion dollars ($5 billion approximately to $30 billion) by 2025. The committee is expected to submit an interim report to the Federal Government by the 16th of November this year.
The Governor of Jigawa State, in the northern part of the country who is the Chairman of the committee, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, said after its first meeting, that it had identified cocoa, gum arabic, sesame seeds, hides and skin, cashews nuts, apricot and banana. Alhaji Abubakar also said that NCEP had identified potential export market for sesame seeds in China, Japan and Turkey.
The NCEP Chairman, noted that Jigawa State was already collaborating with Walcott Group of Companies on the production of Sesame Seeds. “We discussed very well and have hope that eventually we will develop products and solid minerals that will have very high export value. Exportation is a very big chain and we are committed to providing solution for the Nigerian export,” Abubakar said.
He said NCEP would review the entire value chain process, including quality control, market, logistics and sales to ensure that the produce find buyers when eventually exported. Alhaji Abubakar who gave a projection of what was expected to be generated from non-oil export, said that under ZOP, the committee was to further add an extra one hundred and fifty billion dollars ($150 billion) minimum to Nigeria’s foreign reserves cumulatively from non-oil exports over the next ten years, create at least additional five hundred (500,000) jobs annually, as well as lift ten million Nigerians out of poverty.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who is also a member of the committee, blamed the recent rejection of some Nigerian yam export in the United States to what he referred to as mistakes by the. exporter. Chief Ogbe said the container was in Nigeria for two months, before it left the country’s shores in a very hot environment.
He added that Ghanaian yam exports were also affected, therefore advised that exporters should not warehouse perishable goods in bad conditions before shipping. The members of NCEP include Ebonyi State Governor, Mr. Dave Umahi, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, and his counterparts from Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, that of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Fayemi.
Others are Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, Director General of Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority, NEPZA, Mr. Emmanuel Jime, Managing Director of Nigeria Export Import Bank, NEXIM, Mr. Abba Bello and Permanent Secretary of MBNP, Mr. Leon Aliboh. The Committee which is expected to submit an initial report by November is expected to come up with a concise action plan on how to drive non-oil exports based on the presentations and discussions of Council at the meeting.