Billions of investments pumped into oil palm sector of the economy by Nigerians, who heeded calls by the Federal Government in the last three years for private intervention, are at the verge of going down the drain.
Major stakeholders in the sector said they were at the point of bankruptcy because of unprecedented smuggling of palm oil, due to Nigeria’s porous borders, coupled with claims that they (investors) had been shut out by banks from accessing need credit facilities owing to unsettled credits and loans running into billions of Naira.
Their outcry is contained in a letter entitled: SOS to the Federal Government on illegal entry of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) into Nigeria, to President Muhammadu Buhari, under the aegis of the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) and signed by NPPAN Ambassador, Engineer Dele Olanubi; chairman (Ondo State chapter), MrBolarinwaAdetula and the state coordinator, Chief AbiodunAdejo.
They believe Nigeria currently loses more than $500m worth of palm oil yearly, owing to sharp practices in official circle, with the attendant consequences on the industry, warning that, “The job of millions of Nigerians are at stake if positive steps are not taken to stop illegal entry of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) to Nigeria before it is too late.”
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefile, once raised a similar alarm over increasing threats to investments in the sector, which, in the early 1950s, Nigeria had 43 per cent of the global market and derived 82 per cent of its export revenue.
Malaysia and Indonesia, the two leading palm oil producers now, obtained the seedling from Nigeria at the time it was the number one palm oil-producing nation in the world.
In the letter, the stakeholders regretted that all their human and capital outlay was currently threatened because of the increasing hostile business climate occasioned by the lackadaisical attitude of the government to its clamour for diversification of the economy and protection for genuine investors.
They noted that act of economic sabotage going on at the borders encouraged unscrupulous elements to bring in palm oil into Nigeria, with serious negative effects on local production and price index.
“The immediate effect of the whole analysis is the ridiculous prices (prices below the cost of production to oil palm plantation owners) being dictated by buyers of CPO,” they stressed.
Part of the letter read: “Three years down the line of the life of this administration, we were called upon to go back to the land to produce food and agro-allied input for our industries so as to give life to our economy.
“Our members under the auspices of the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) mobilised all its members to go back to all abandoned plantations and also encouraged the planting of new fields so as to increase the palm oil output of Nigeria, thus reducing the outflow of hard foreign exchange, as well as reducing unemployment.
“Today, the picture before the Association is as follows: We got little or no leverage from the government, critical among the expected leverage from the government are bank loans to our members nationwide.
FG Moves To Stop Influx Of Illegal Aliens
The Federal Government has promised to put measures in place to end the movement of illegal immigrants into the country to secure the country.
The government stated that the era where aliens easily enter the country with fake travel documents must stop.
The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, according to a statement on Saturday by the Director of Press of the Ministry, Afonja Ajibola, disclosed this when the Director, the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dasuki Arabi visited him.
The statement read, “The Minister assured he is working seriously on efficient ways at securing Nigeria borders; saying a situation where illegal aliens easily find their ways into the country often with fake travel documents has to be stopped. In his view, Nigeria cannot be secured if its borders are not secured”.
The Minister also said the Ministry was ready to partner with the BPSR in proffering effective solutions to the nation’s security challenges, especially in securing the nation’s borders.
“I am ready to actively collaborate with the Bureau of Public Service Reforms to find solutions to our security challenges,” he was quoted as saying.
ECOWAS Condemns Plot To Obstruct Peace In Sierra Leone
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the plot by some individuals to disturb peace in Sierra Leone.
The condemnation is contained in a statement issued by ECOWAS in Abuja, yesterday.
ECOWAS said, “The bloc has learnt, with utter disgust, a plot by certain individuals to aquire arms and disturb the peace and constitutional order in Sierra Leone.
“ECOWAS condemns this act and calls for the arrest and prosecution of everyone involved in the illegality.
“The bloc has always maintained its zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of government.
“We want to reaffirm our commitment to supporting the government and the people of Sierra Leone’s quest to deepen democracy and good governance by consolidating peace and security so as to foster socio-economic development”.
Earlier, the Sierra Leonean Government had declared a 24-hour nationwide curfew in a proactive step to ensure that the peace is not tampered with.
Bad Roads Fuelling Insecurity In N’East -Govs
Worried by the security challenges confronting the region, governors of the North East have resolved to embark on more collaborative efforts among member states to come up with a security architecture design for the region.
The governors noted that bad federal roads are fuelling insecurity in the region and called on the Federal Ministry of Works to follow through with road contracts awarded in the region.
This is contained in a communique issued at the end of the 9th meeting of the forum, held at the banquet hall of the Adamawa State Government House in Yola last Saturday.
According to a statement signed by the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, the forum said there was a need for a robust platform for regional economic development and resolved to work as an entity in strengthening the human capacity and socio-economic development of its people.
The communique read in part, “Forum is continuously disturbed about the poor infrastructural base of the region. More concerned that the federal roads within and between the states in the region have been neglected.
“We call on the Federal Ministry of Works to follow through with road contracts awarded in the region. The poor road network is fuelling insecurity stalling development and making life more difficult for our people in the region.
“Forum notes that the bad federal roads within and between the states are major setbacks to the infrastructural development of the region.
“Forum notes the poor energy situation in the region. To mitigate the situation, Forum resolved to work with Shanghai Electric to construct a 60 MW Coal Power Power Plant in each state of the region.
“Forum decried the lack of modern rail projects in the region and called for repairs on the old gauge rail lines which no longer useful and sustainable technology. Forum calls for inclusion of the region into the Nigerian National Railway Transport Plan using the Modern Guage rail.”
On climate change and environmental degradation, the forum resolved to strengthen its collaboration with all initiatives such as the Great Green Wall and the Global Initiative of Carbon Credit financing.
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