By Gift Chapi Odekina
The Executive Director/CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Barrister Segun Awolowo on Friday said that Nigeria has plans towards exploring the abounding opportunities in the petrochemical industry.
Barrister Awolowo made the revelation during the 2020 budget performance/2021 budget defence held at by the House Committee on Commerce in Abuja.
Speaking at the meeting, Chairman of the commuter Rep.Femi Fakeye said that: “We were to have a technical session with the representatives from the States, for the National Committee on Export Promotion. It was supposed to be last week but we had to cancel it as the Federal Capital Territory was to host us.
“Part of the report that I was to present, which I will share with this committee, is the status report on the 22 products that we selected for the ‘Zero Oil’.
“We were able to track it down: for example, for cashew we were on 170,000 metric tonnes and it has increased now to 220,000MT. This is a new market we have created. We are also processing. Nigeria cannot continue to export raw materials. So, we are processing cashew in different states.
“Petrochemicals, for example, with the refinery coming up and that is the greatest reason why we are looking at the ‘Zero Oil’ plan is petrochemical.
“Nigeria is a petroleum economy but we were zero in petrochemical sales which was about $150 billion annually globally. Nigeria was not there.
The ‘Zero Oil’ plan was strategically taken across the country and we have visited about 26 states and companies. One of the first set of people we sat with Alhaji Aliko Dangote and that was why he was encouraged to go into petrochemicals, and that is why he is building that refinery.
“Just this morning, there was a report; they were asking Aliko about putting his shares on the London Stock Exchange and he said no, that he was not ready for that now.
“On cement, he is looking at export. The two things we discussed with Aliko were petrochemicals and cement, so that Nigeria can have foreign exchange.
“That is the traction we have gain in every sector. I think it is now next week that we are having the meeting, here in Abuja,” Chief Awolowo said.
In a related development, members of the Committee uncovered series of extra budgetary expenditure in the financial report of Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority.
These include: unauthorized utilisation of multi-million naira internally generated revenue on unapproved Expenditure in breach of the provisions of Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Others are: N120 million sitting allowances for Directors; N45 million spent on Entertainment and hospitality; N11 million spent on new vehicles procured at the sum of N99 million; N64 million spent on fumigation; N97 million spent on transport and travels after purchase of official vehicles; N12 million spent on communication expenses and additional sum of N38 million on media and publicity;
Also the lawmakers expressed grave concern over the unapproved payment for legal service on the suit field by some stakeholders on the Federal Government’s resolution to cede some functions of NEPZA to Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority.
The lawmakers also frowned at the breach of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
In his response, Mr. Umana Okoh Umana who admitted the errors observed by the lawmkers, assured that necessary corrections will be made to the financial reports, just as he blamed the Ministry of Finance for late releases of funds for the implementation of capital projects which led to the mop-up of N261 million in 2019 and the release of N781 million which as not bene utilised in the 2020 fiscal year.
While speaking, Hon. Faleke underscored the need for adherence to extant financial regulations as well as well as prudent utilisation of resources by next various MDAs.
To this end, the Committee demanded for the Audited Report of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority for the period under review.