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Senate Proposes Five – year Ban on Textile Imports

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…Reps Seek Better Policies for Investment in Gold Mining

 Task Customs on Border Closure

By Jude Opara and Orkula Shaagee, Abuja

 The Senate, yesterday called on the Federal Government to ban importation of textiles materials for a period of five years to allow for the production of locally made ones.

The call came on the heels of the House of Representatives resolution advising on the need for robust policies to facilitate investments in gold mining sector as major source of revenue for the country.

The Senate’s position followed the debate at plenary on a motion sponsored by Kabir Barkiya (APC-Katsina Central) on “Urgent need to Revamp the Nation’s Comatose Textile Industry”.

The Red Chamber equally appealed to the government to provide the necessary infrastructural facilities especially power supply to local textile industries to quicken the resuscitation of the industry.

The lawmakers called on the government to ease access to soft loans for the textile manufacturing companies through the Bank of Industry.

Leading the debate, Barkiya argued that the textile industry in the country played a significant role in the manufacturing sector of the Nigerian economy with a record of over 140 companies in the 1960s and 1970s with the multiplier effect of job creation.

“The textile industry recorded an annual growth of 67 per cent and as at 1991, employed above 25 per cent of the workers in the manufacturing sector.

“The textile industry was then the highest employer of labour apart from the civil service.”

However, he regretted that the industry had witnessed a massive decline in the last two decades which led to the folding of most of them including the; Kaduna Textile, Kano Textile and Aba Textile among many others.

The lawmaker further said that government policies like increase in taxation, high cost of production, trade liberalisation resulting in massive importation of textile materials had negatively affected the production of local textile materials.

According to Barkiya, the resuscitation of the industry would provide additional revenue and assist the government to diversify the nation’s economy and to create thousands of jobs.

In his contribution, Robert Boroffice (APC-Ondo North) said the importation of textile materials was as a result of the comatose level of the textile industry. He then urged the government to further extend the border closure.

“The closure of our borders is an eye-opener. China closed its borders for 40 years for its industrialisation and development.”

In his intervention, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia South), disagreed with Boroffice on the border closure, arguing that closing of the borders would not help to revamp the textile industry.

“Closing the borders and doing nothing will not lead to increase in production of textiles.

“The real problems have been indicated; first, is the fact that we are unable to produce the cotton that we need.

“But far more important is the fact of power. Power was the key problem that made most of the textile mills to close down.

“Once it became very difficult after 1982 for industries to be supplied with power and they needed to switch over to now produce their own power in order to do production, it became a lose, lose situation for most of the industrialists.”

Abaribe, joined in the call for the federal government to provide stable electricity to adding that such would make the smuggling of textile products unprofitable.

For Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue North-east), the federal government must address the issue of power generation and distribution if any meaningful profit would be realised from the manufacturing industry in the country.

“If we take concrete actions on these issues, our economy will be enhanced, the welfare of the people will be enhanced, insecurity and by extension, criminality, will be reduced,” he said.

In his remark, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said that as Nigeria had signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, “we have to be prepared for the repercussions.

“We cannot stop trading easily with other people. We have to up our game; we need to be competitive,” Mr Lawan said.

Reps Seek Better Policies for Investments in Gold Mining

The House of. Representatives has asked  the Federal Government to create a conducive environment  to facilitate facilitate real investments in gold mining.

The Representatives, made the call yesterday, following a unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Rep. Oghene Egoh (PDP, Lagos) during the plenary presided by Deputy Speaker, Hon.  Idris Wase yesterday.

The motion, titled  “Need to Prioritise Gold Mining as one of the Major Earners of Revenue to the Nation”.

Leading the debate, Egoh recalled that the Federal Government banned all mining activities in Zamfara on April 7.

He said the government also directed all foreigners operating in the mining fields to leave within 48 hours and threatened to revoke the license of any defiant mining operator.

The lawmaker said that Nigeria had about 21.40 tons of gold deposits.

“Therefore, there is the need for many large scale gold mining companies, gold mining policies, state of the art geological survey.

“This includes map production and maintenance of up to date geological records; health and safety inspections and maintenance records; legal records of licences and legal examination of new applications, among others.”

Egoh said, according to reports, Nigeria lost $9 billion to illegal mining every year and many lives were lost due to mining activities that ignored environmental protection policies, while official records showed that mining in Nigeria, however, accounted for 0.3 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Products.

He emphasised that the poor records meant that “the Federal Government may not have official records of the amount of mineral deposits in Nigeria”.

“Which if ascertained, could make the mineral sector one of the largest contributors to Government’s revenues through the payment of royalties, employees income taxes and corporate taxes.”

The house expressed concern that illegal miners cart away billions of dollars’ worth of gold yearly, leaving Zamfara “with poor state of education and inadequate healthcare system”.

The legislature also agreed that 30 per cent derivation from gold earnings would positively boost the economy of the state if the resources were effectively managed by the government.

The green chamber also agreed that the remaining 70 per cent could go into the federation account.

The house also urged the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to provide geological records of Gold deposits in Nigeria and further directed the Committee on Solid Minerals Development to ensure compliance.

Charges Customs to Review Border Closure Policy

The House of Representatives, yesterday urged the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to review the policy on border closure, saying it  ran counter  to the Customs extant Act.

It also urged relevant government agencies to look into the prevailing directive to ameliorate

This development followed an adopted motion on issue of urgent public importance raised by Hon. Asda Soli.

In his lead debate, Soli recalled that Nigeria has 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, sharing boundaries with other African countries.

Further, the lawmaker recalled that the Federal government on November 6, ordered that no filling station within two metres close to the border should fill their stations with petrol.

He added that no alternative arrangement was made to lessen the attendant hardship to the people of the affected border communities across the country.

He, therefore, affirmed that the existing directive would cause untold hardship and affect their livelihoods besides unemployment.

In their alternate contributions, majority of the lawmakers agreed that the directive should be reviewed to avert the outlined consequences in consideration of the yuletide season being afoot.

“The Yuletide is around the corner. This is not acceptable. The House should look into this issue with human face. If we push our neighbours to the wall, I don’t know what will happen”.

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Wike Gives Ultimatum to Illegal Land Owners in FCT Communities

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

Minister Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Nyesom Wike on Monday gave ultimatum to illegal settlers in Chika Aleita Abuja Science and Technological Village to leave.

Wike stated this during an inspection tour of the technology village in company of his counterpart in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Uche Godfrey Nnaji, in Abuja.

Issuing the order, Wike said the fast encroachment was aided by inability of the past administration to take action and stop individuals from building illegally despite the payment of compensation.

He noted that the money expended in providing infrastructure to the village will not be a waste.

“I will give Development Control a go ahead to demolish because I heard they have been compensated since 2018.

“We want to take over the place so that infrastructure can come in. It will even attract investors. I can tell you that they have been compensated.

“No amount of propaganda can stop us from doing the right thing,” The FCT Minister said. .

Earlier, the Minister of Science and Technology, informed Wike that leaving illegal settlers that have encroached the buffer of the village constitutes a big risk and loss to the country’s investment drive to the village that is a the replica of London technology village.

He said the government of Great Britain was able to generate 6 billion pounds in six years.

Nnaji noted that the country stands the chance of making more if right environment is put in place.

The Abuja technology village was the creation of Federal Government during the return of democracy to the country.It is a Free Trade Zone expected to incubate science and technology but subsequent administrations failed to execute the project.

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Naira Falls to N2,000/£1 at Parallel Market

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The naira is currently trading at over N2,000 against the British pound  sterling in the parallel market.

Malam Ibrahim, a Bureau De Change (BDC) operator in Wuse Zone 4 in Abuja confirmed the price of the local currency on Monday.

According to the news report, the new rate is higher than the N1,930 reported on Saturday and is currently the lowest point in the naira’s historical performance.

In the parallel FX market, where the naira is unofficially trading at N1,673 from N1,670/$ on Friday, the naira also lost value in relation to the dollar.

Confirming the development, Ibrahim said, “Yes it is true, we are currently selling above N2,000 for the pounds and it is still about the heavy and consistent demand for these currencies.

The statement by the CBN to stop foreign oil companies operating in Nigeria from instantly sending 100 percent of their foreign exchange earnings to their parent businesses overseas was one of the most recent measures.

Experts in the market credit the latest drop to a sustained increase in demand for US dollars that has been visible since January 1, 2024.

The main causes of this increased demand include a sizeable amount that is attributable to companies actively attempting to replenish inventory or get raw materials, which raises the need for foreign exchange.

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Manufacturers Reduce Cement Price to N8,000

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By David Torough, Abuja

Cement manufacturers have said a sharp rise in their operating costs is responsible for the increase in the price of the commodity.

They agreed to bring down the price between N9,000 and N15,000 to between N7,000 and N8,000 per 50kg depending on the location nationwide.

It said that prices could be N7,000 in some parts of the country owing to closeness to the supply of the product.

This was part of the agreement between the Federal Government and the cement manufacturers as well as its association.

The Minister of Works, David Umahi led the meeting which had the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite in attendance, saying they would intervene on issues of gas and bad roads among other issues affecting the rising price of the critical material in the construction sector.

The cement manufacturers including Dangote Cement Plc, BUA Cement Plc and Larfarge Cement Plc and other stakeholders issued a communique after meeting with the ministers.

Umahi said smuggling, bad roads, high energy costs, and the forex crisis caused the high price but stressed that manufacturers had expressed their readiness to bring down the prices in the future.

He said, “The cement manufacturers have noted to the government that the present high cost of cement in the market is very much abnormal in some locations nationwide.

“Ideally, they noted that cement price, and retail price to a consumer should not cost more than between N7,000 and N8,000 per 50kg bag.

“Therefore, the government and the cement manufacturers, which are Dangote Plc, BUA Plc, and Lafarge Plc have agreed to have their cement price nationwide between N7,000 and N8,000 per 50kg pack of cement, depending on the location which means that this price depends on the locations. 

“Going forward, the government has advised manufacturers to set up a price monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance with the prices that are set today.”

The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment lamented the high rate of smuggling to the neighbouring countries.

She noted, this was responsible for the scarcity and hike in the price of the produce and assured that the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu is committed to tackling the menace.

Uzoka-Anite said, “The amount we recommended is N7000 to N8000 but we have other factors. This is the first time that manufacturers are saying they will go and manage compliance in this distribution network.

“We have issues of smuggling not just for cement, but even food across the borders and this has led to scarcity. We have engaged with the NSA who has committed to tackling this. We’ll hear from the NSA soon on this’’.

The manufacturers expressed readiness to bring down the price as soon as the Federal Government interventions are fulfilled.

The Executive Director, BUA Group, Kabir Rabiu admitted that the high cost of cement in neighboring countries made smuggling lucrative, saying that the cost of cement in Chad and Cameron is about N15,000 in the countries’ monetary value.

Rabiu assured that his company would bring in 6 million tonnes of cement into the market to crash the price.

He said, “The high cost of cement in neighboring countries is making smuggling lucrative.

“The cost of cement in Chad and Cameron is about N15,000 equivalent there, and distributors in the North East instead smuggle products there.

“They do that not through official channels and the government is not benefiting from their export. Unless that is sorted, we’ll continue to have pressure from those markets.

“We have promised the minister that we are going to bring in 6m tonnes of cement into the market and that is going to crash the price. There is a big disparity between demand and supply in Nigeria. I think some plants have issues that have reduced production.

“We are at the peak of cement demand but supply seems less so there is going to be a crisis and that is why we are working hard to bring more products to the market to reduce the pressure of demand and supply in the market.”Government expects the agreed price to drop after securing government’s interventions on the challenges of the manufacturers on gas, import duty, smuggling, and better road network.

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