For Nigeria to catch up on genuine economic growth and industrialisation of the country, the Federal Government and the Private Sector must ensure that the free zone scheme was greatly supported and strengthened using improved legal framework, sustained investments and insisting on global best practices.
This was the submission of the newly appointed Chairman of the Board of Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Hon. Adamu Fanda on his first official visit to theAuthority’s headquarters on Tuesday in Abuja.
Expanding on how nations were fast tracking industrialisation and creating jobs, Fanda noted that a well implemented free trade zone regime had proven to be a catalyst for manufacturing
and economic growth in several parts of the world.
Fanda explained that the country must ramp up its empowerment of NEPZA through urgent
legal reforms and compliance by all government agencies to the provision of the Authority’s
Act that allowed operations in zones to be tax free.
``China, Dubai, Japan, and South Korea are great examples of how special economic zones can be used to increase manufacturing capacity and deepen foreign exchange earnings.
``African countries like Ethiopia, South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and our neighbour, Ghana are deploying the model to great advantage. Nigeria cannot be an exception.
``The free zones must work to fulfill the agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari for an industrialised Nigeria", the new board chairman said.
While pledging to support the management of the authority to realise its mandate, Fanda promised extensive advocacy in support of the FTZs, adding that ``if it works in other countries, if it helps other countries to develop, Nigeria must vigorously tap into it for her growth and development’’.
The board chairman however said: ``I promise to work in close collaboration with the management to take NEPZA to greater height. We will attend to Board's responsibility with an eye on due process, transparency and accountability’’.
According to him, the management will find in the board an ever willing body devoted to smooth and open process to drive expansion of free zones for the development of Nigeria.
On his part, the Managing Director, Prof Adesoji Adesugba described the appointment of Hon Fanda as timely and commendable decision in the best interest of the Authority and the country.
While describing the chairman as an experienced private and public sector figure, the NEPZA
Chief Executive noted that several critical decisions and issues could now be addressed to advance ongoing reforms and strengthening of the agency, adding that the important position the board occupied could not be overemphasized.
``We thank His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otumba Adeniyi Adebayo for appointing a seasoned figure as our Board Chairman. Going by his antecedent and records, we all share the vision of the President for a new Nigeria with strong industrial sector, creating jobs and attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
He further stated that: ``we are even more elated that our chairman is not just a product of the private Sector, but has strong link and contacts as a former member of the legislature’’.
According to the NEPZA boss, Fanda’s incredible credentials, industry sector knowledge and political relevance remain big boost for NEPZA on all front.
`` As we launch our legislative agenda for the amendment of NEPZA Act to address loopholes in the Authority's legal framework and update it in line with current realities, we will be relying heavily on the chairman’s goodwill to fast track the process’’, Adesugba said.
While promising deliberate strategy of cooperation with the board , the managing director stated that the paramount goal was to ensure the realisation of the Authority's mandate, stressing that the board was a vital organ without which the management would struggle to achieve its core goals and objectives.