"> Free Zone Reforms : NEPZA boss Calls for Restraints over Union Anger - Sahel Standard
January 18, 2022
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Free Zone Reforms : NEPZA boss Calls for Restraints over Union Anger

Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has risen to calm mounting agitation of the Authority’s workforce over alleged surreptitious attempt to undermine the legal status of the Authority by a report of a Technical Working Group constituted by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

The outcome of the committee’s alleged investigation was titled: “ Draft Report Performance Evaluation of Free Trade Zone (FTZ) Licensees’’. 


Adesugba, also, Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, made the remarks at a weekly parley with the staff of the Headquarters on Wednesday in Abuja.


Responding to the workers’ fears and agitations on the draft report, the NEPZA boss explained that “it is important for us to realise that NEPZA is a creation of Act 63 of 1992 of the National Assembly’’. 


According to him, the reformation of NEPZA is definitely not within the competence of NEPZA’s management, explaining that “the Authority was aware that there had been discussions on the remodeling of government agencies for efficiency from the time of Steve Oransaye’s Panel recommendations.

“These discussions as far as we are aware are still ongoing and no decisions have been made nor the enabling laws to effects such changes enacted’’, he said. 


Adesugba further stressed that: “with respect to the said report of the committee from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, such report has not been officially communicated to NEPZA and at the right moment, the position of NEPZA will be conveyed by its board to the appropriate authorities’’. 


The NEPZA’s CEO, however, urged the workers and the local branch of the labour union, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), to exercise restraints so as not to send the wrong signals to both operators of zones and enterprises operating in the zones.

 
Recall that NEPZA was indeed a creation of Act 63 of 1992 with the sole regulatory power to license, manage and supervise the country’s Free Trade Zone Scheme.
The mandate of the agency is to galvanise the country’s earmarked ecosystem to drive industrialization.  


Since inception, the Authority has within its limited resources meticulously managed the scheme that has arguably resulted in significant contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. 

Staff union Petitions Buhari, Indicts Minister, Board and MD of NEPZA

The Leadership of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN)  had on Tuesday petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, accusing the Minister of Trade and Investment, the Board Chairman and Managing Director of free zone Autourity of desperate attempt to destabilise the free trade zones.

In a petition signed by Alade Bashir Lawal, its Secretary-General, the ASCSN) said it “forward to you the memorandum on the “Desperate Attempt by the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo to subvert the activities of the Free Zones Scheme in Nigeria.

“We hereby plead with Mr. President to painstakingly look into this submission and urgently intervene in the matter with a view to saving the country from being ripped off through ill-advised policies that have the potential of satisfying individuals rather than the country as a whole”, the petition noted.

The union further Accused the NEPZA Board and the Managing Director of the agency of complicity: “We are very suspicious of the role of the Chairman of the Board, Alhaji
Adamu Fanda since he is a close political associate of the Honourable Minister, Otunba Adeniyi Richard Adebayo, and the Managing Director, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba in all these.

“It appears that they were brought to NEPZA as “Undertakers” that is, to supervise the dismembering of the Authority as a body. Few days after their resumption, they, with their cohorts in the Ministry made attempts to transfer some zones to  OGFZA. The attempt failed woefully.

“The Managing Director and some of his Directors weré members of TWG. Where were they, when a decision that was to have a far-reaching effect on the corporate existence of NEPZA was being taken? Why would any MD or any of his directors append their signatures to such a report? “, the Union querried. 

The union picked holds in the ministerial committee report which recommend transit of NEPZA respinsibility to Onne Oil amd Gas Free Trade zone, describing the proposal as an illegal step designed to serve interest of individualis rather rather the nation.

“One of the set goals is to resolve the perceived ambiguity between the two Authorities, namely Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) and Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA). There is no ambiguity whatsoever either in law or operations and if any ambiguity exists, the courts of law are there to resolve same.

“The recommendation confirms the suspicions  of the stakeholders that the entire exercise is just to strip NEPZA of its regulatory mandate and confer same on OGEFZA which had been a long time unwholesome ambition of OGFZA contrary to its enabling law, national objectives and interest for the establishment of Free Zone Scheme in Nigeria and International Finance Corporation (IFC) who is the •major financier of investment in Nigeria Free Zones” the petition affirmed.

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