By Celestine Ajayi
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, on Thursday inaugurated a steering committee for the implementation of the Export Expansion Facility (EEF) to boost non-oil exports.
Adebayo at the virtual inauguration of the committee warned that the economy would remain vulnerable to external shocks with attendant effects of devaluation, inflation and unemployment, if the country did not grow its non-oil exports.
The minister in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Ifedayo Sayo, said that export growth was at the centre of the strategy for diversifying Nigeria’s sources of foreign exchange.
According to him, it would reduce the vulnerability of the economy to external shocks.
“We have witnessed the devastating impact of events outside our control can have on our livelihoods due to our reliance on a primary source of foreign exchange.
“The coronavirus pandemic further amplified these vulnerabilities and reminded us that if we do not grow non-oil exports, our economy remains vulnerable to external shocks and their ripple effects of devaluation, inflation and unemployment.
“However, I believe we are on the right path in addressing these concerns and have chosen the right partners for the journey,” he said.
He noted that the EEF is aimed at protecting export businesses from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, safeguarding jobs and de-risk the economy from shocks like COVID-19.
According to him, its primary goal is to increase Nigeria’s export capacity in the near term and its export volumes in the medium term.
The minister added that it represented a huge financial commitment from the government and demonstrated President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to export diversification.
He listed the duties of the steering committee to include ensuring timely implementation of the programme in line with the Federal Government’s objectives and for the benefit of its intended beneficiaries.
According to him, it also includes approval of the Programme Implementation Plan and Budget in accordance with agreed priorities and approval of implementation strategy of EEF’s projects and target beneficiaries for each project, where applicable.
He added that the committee would ensure approval of disbursements to beneficiaries, vendors and implementation partners and review of the periodic performance reports and resolve implementation challenges.
Members of the committee headed by Adebayo as Chairman, include Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, former Managing Director, Fidelity Bank as the Vice Chairman and Mr Olusegun Awolowo, Executive Director, Nigeria Export Promotion Council.
Others include Mr Mansur Ahmed, President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr Suleiman Audu, Director, Commodities and Export Department of the ministry and Mrs Suratu Umar; Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Aisston Consulting, among others.