Industry Minister gets stakeholders’ nod to reposition OGFZA, EPZA
By Soni Daniel,Northern Region Editor
Moves by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adabayo, to properly locate companies and parastatals in the Export Procession Zones Authority and the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority has received the backing of key stakeholders in the industry who described the measures as key to make progress in the critical sector of the nation’s economy.
Under the measures being put in place by the ministry, all companies and agencies operating in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria are to come under OGFZA while all non-oil and gas-oriented export firms and agencies are to report to EPZA.
Accordingly, the stakeholders have tasked the minister to back the repositioning project with the immediate amendment of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority Act of No. 8 of 1996 and the Export Procession Zones Authority Act of 1992.
Key voices in the industry, who have thrown the weight behind the repositioning, include Eko Support Services Free Zone, Lagos; Brawal Oil Services Limited, Onne, Rivers State; Notore Power and Infrastructure Limited, Onne, Marine Club of Nigeria and the Institute of Export Operations and Management.
Also endorsing the reform initiatives by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) are the President of the Marine Club of Nigeria, Dr Chinedu Jideofo-Ogbuagu, and a Director in the Institute of Export Operations and Management, Mr. Paul Olalekan Akande.
Jideofo-Ogbuagu and Akande urged the minister to institute a technical audit of free zones in the country to determine their viability and relevance.
“The new dawn in the nation’s free zones industry should enjoy the support of all stakeholders who had despaired over the confusion and unnecessary bickering of the past,” Jideofo-Ogbuagu said.
Mr. Seni Edu, chief executive of Eko Support Services Free Zone, noted that actions to reposition the sector were long overdue and urged stakeholders to cooperate with the leadership of the FMITI to achieve the right outcome.
Mr. Charles Etugbo, managing director of Brawal Oil Limited, a free zone developer in Onne, Rivers State, described the reform initiatives of the ministry as “a bold and welcome step,” while Mr. Femi Solebo, chief executive of Notore Power and Infrastructure Limited, part of the consortium that owns Notore Industrial City, a free zone developer in Onne, said, “Developments in the ministry under the new ministers promise exciting period of policy clarity to investors.”
Solebo said he expects the reform to strengthen investors’ confidence in the nation’s free zones industry.
It will be recalled that soon after his inauguration, Adebayo had launched processes to amend the principal laws that established NEPZA and OGFZA to bring them in line with current realities in the industry.
The processes kicked off with two stakeholders’ forums to mobilise ideas for a bill to amend the OGFZA Act of No. 8 of 1996.
The extant Acts for both NEPZA and OGFZA are more than 20 years old and have been described by stakeholders as long overdue for review.
The amendments are planned to also address the question of ambiguity, particularly in the OGFZA law, which has been the source of inter-agency conflicts for years.