. Captain John T Okakpu chairs committee
BY: Sandra Ani
The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), has inaugurated a 28-member Nigeria Agro Set-Up Committee with a mandate to reinvigorate broad national agricultural activities across the country.
With the Federal Government’s intent on diversifying the economy away from oil, there has been renewed interest in the agricultural sector as a critical sector to lead the charge and target $250B (two hundred and fifty billion US dollars) in export income for Nigeria by 2040.
According to PriceWater Coppers (PwC’s) report, between 2016 and 2018, the country’s total agriculture exports was driven by export of sesame seeds, fermented cocoa beans, cashew nuts, ginger, crude palm kernel oil, soya beans, frozen shrimps and prawns, among other commodities.
Cumulatively, the country earned N0.53 trillion from agriculture export between 2016 and 2018.
In contrast, Nigeria’s total agriculture import bill over the same period stood at N2.39 trillion.
As a result, agriculture trade deficit stood at N1.86 trillion. Thus, the country is a net food importer.
Therefore, the Committee which comprises of an assemblage of representatives of the Government MDAs, private sector agro industry technocrats, high flying managers, retired agric related multinational practitioners, agric export logistics experts, agric-based academia, government bureaucracy experts, senior military officers (active and retired) are expected to innovatively position country’s agric value chain for improved exports.
The Committee chaired by Chief Executive Officer of ABX WORLD, Captain John T Okakpu has as members: Arch Kabir Ibrahim (AFAN); Brigadier General Kapeh Alwali Kazir (Nigeria Army); Prof. Obiora Edwin Madu (Multimix); Prof. Simon Irtwange (FUAM); Prof Charles Asadu (UNN); Abdulkarim Kaita (Dangote Group); Mudiaga Okumagba (FedEx/Red Star); Lieutenant Colonel Benedict Ugbuji (Nigerian Army); Ifechukwu Anajekwu; Jane Machunga; Ogunfunmilayo Oluwole (NAQS); Ernest Ihedigbo; Eniola Elizabeth; Amede Achingale (AWEP) and Wing Commander Shuaibu Hamza (Rtd)
Others are; Deputy Controller of Customs Suleiman Chiroma (Customs); Dr. Chinyere Akujiobi (FMARD); Idowu-Ogbo Medaiyedu, Esq (FMF)., Kamal Mustapha; Olatunji Lawal; Dr. (Mrs) Gloria Ahmed and Mrs. Hindatu Adbul; Tony Ifeakandu and Alhaji Ismail Tahir.
While inaugurating the Committee on Thursday, June 18, 2020, the Permanent Secretary, FMITI, Dr. Sani-Gwarzo, charged members to collaborate with relevant Government Agencies to facilitate the purchase, certification, transportation of agricultural commodities from the farm-gates to the points of exit.
He said that the country Nigeria needs a system that can control, facilitate export and entrench international acceptance standards.
This, he said, can only be achieved through synergy between the Ministry, relevant MDAs and private sector.
In his words: “I want to use this opportunity to welcome the members of the Nigeria Agro Set-Up led by Captain John Okakpu of abx World.
“As you are aware the Ministry has the mandate of formulating and implementing policies and programmes to attract investment, boost industrialization, increase trade and exports and develop enterprise.
“In line with the diversification agenda of the current Government, the Ministry is very pleased to note that the Committee will serve as a reference point for coordinating activities that will fast-track the agriculture export business in Nigeria.
“The Reference Point comprising public officials and private sector representation from the six geo-political zones of the country will work in collaboration with relevant Government Agencies to facilitate the purchase, certification, transportation of agricultural commodities from the farm-gates to the points of exit.
“Nigeria needs a system that can control, facilitate our export and entrench international acceptance standards. This can only be achieved through synergy between the Ministry, relevant MDAs and private sector.
“After the inauguration, the Ministry in tandem with the members of the Committee will develop a suitable terms of reference (TOR) for the Committee.
Also, a work plan of 5-10 years with targets and time lines will be developed to boost production for sustainability purpose.
“This is a very welcome development as it would aid in developing agricultural commodities export thereby generating more jobs and foreign exchange.
He noted that the secretariat for the Committee shall be domiciled in the Ministry (CED) for easy coordination, monitoring and evaluation purposes.
Responding on behalf of the Committee members, the Chairman, Captain Okapku said that they will work assiduously towards the set goal which is to recognise the need to promote and encourage interest of agriculture in Nigeria.
He said that they will work vigorously towards inculcating in the youths a sense of patriotism and nationalism, serving the immediate community and other countries with agriculture produce which will compete favourably in international markets and to promote and educate the generality of Nigerian farmers on the best practices of agriculture.
“Major areas in the Committee’s agenda are to reinvigorate a broad national agricultural activity across the land and reposition the industry as a veritable source of massive youth employment.
“The Committee will also coordinate and galvanise agro exporters in Nigeria to a well-organised, highly informed and strategically positioned group in export and related matters.
“We are also working towards the reduction of high export tariffs and encourage government and allied agencies to provide incentives for agro exporters in Nigeria”, he said.
The Committee will also work towards the full take-off of the commodity exchange market to curtail further inflation of prices and to inculcate export ideas into poverty alleviation programmes.