By: Naomi Uzor
AFRICANGLOBE – Fifteen out of the 16 ECOWAS countries have ganged up against Nigeria’s industrialization even as the Federal Government has sworn not to sign any trade agreements that will harm the Nigerian manufacturers.
This was disclosed by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria(MAN) during their 42nd Annual General Meeting held recently in Lagos.
Chief Kola Jamodu, the immediate past President of the manufacturers, had in his speech told the gathering that 15 out of the 16 ECOWAS member nations don’t want the country to be industrialised and are working frantically to frustrate Nigeria’s industrial development plans.
“MAN believes that the federal government’s efforts to enlist the support of other members of the African Union to reject the Economic Partnership Agreement with Europe, EPA in its present form to be sustained. We also appeal that the federal government should continue its effort to convince other ECOWAS member state of the potential dangers of EPA.
No country can develop without protecting its industries and Nigeria stands the risk of having its market flooded with cheap inferior European goods with resultant negative effect on our industries and economy, if EPA is endorsed in its present form.
This will also impact negatively on employment generation, which is one of the critical aspects of Government Transformation Agenda and the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP)” he said.
In his response, the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, said that government has developed Nigeria’s first comprehensive plan to provide long term financing to industry and ensuring that any trade agreements signed will not threaten the Nigerian manufacturers.
“We must boost our industrial capacity; create more jobs and wealth in the economy. History has shown that no nation has ever become prosperous by relying only on export of its raw materials endowments without putting in place a vibrant manufacturing sector.
Therefore, value addition to primary commodities to produce intermediate and finished goods for domestic and export markets shall be one of the key areas of focus of our new industrial policy and we believe firmly that the Industrial Revolution Plan can help in achieving this goal,” he said.
In cement manufacturing, he noted that for the first time ever in Nigeria’s history, last year the country became a net exporter of cement, from a country that produced only 2 million metric tons of cement a year in 2003, today, have a capacity to produce 39.5 million metric tons per annum and have started selling to our neighbours.
Speaking during the event, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said that the Federal Government had already put structures in place to reduce the cost of borrowing for manufacturers.
He said, “For the first time in decades, the Nigerian government has decided to tackle the biggest challenges that you Manufacturers have faced for years.
This is to ensure that Manufacturing in Nigeria becomes truly competitive. In the area of financing, Nigerian manufacturers have always struggled with the high cost of funding in Nigeria, yet nothing was done.
But I am glad to inform you today that as part of the NIRP, we have put together our nation’s first comprehensive real sector funding intervention under a programme called the “Financing Value Chain Initiative”.