Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila says Nigeria must increase its industrialisation and manufacturing activities through the free trade zones to survive the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) regime.
Gbajabiamila gave the advice on Wednesday in Abuja while receiving the newly appointed Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba.
The speaker, in a statement signed by Mr Martins Odey, Head, Corporate Communications, of NEPZA, said Nigeria was faced with enormous challenges ahead of the AfCFTA in the areas of manufacturing and industrialisation.
He said that there was the need for the country to act proactively in order not to become a dumping ground for other African nations.
”Our best option in this circumstance is to immediately set machinery in motion to ensure the effective functioning and flourishing of our export processing zones.
“We must remove all bottlenecks and perfect all stumbling blocks. We will then be fully prepared for AFCTA and also generate massive jobs for our unemployed youths and enhance our foreign earnings,’’ he said.
Gbajabiamila also pledged total support of the legislature for the revitalisation of the free trade zones to make the zones function productively.
”How can we compete successfully in a post–COVID-19 world and under AfCFTA regime? How can we ensure a sustainable recovery from the pandemic?
“How can we make Nigeria the number one investment destination? It is mainly by boosting our manufacturing and export capacity, the twin tasks, the export processing zones are set up to achieve.
“We in the legislature will provide legislative and budgetary support to NEPZA to achieve its mandate,” he said.
He expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing a seasoned investment professional as the Managing Director of NEPZA to drive the sector.
Adesugba, on his part, expressed appreciation on behalf of NEPZA for the pledges of support from the speaker, noting that such back up would spur him and his team to squarely face the challenging tasks.
”I want to assure Nigerians that we will take the bull by the horn. We will ensure effective functioning of the zones to generate jobs, wealth and industrialisation in line with the cardinal goals of the president.
“We are setting to work immediately and we hope to prepare Nigeria for AfCFTA by easing investment inflow into the zones,” Adesugba said.