The request for Import and Export Free Zone Status do not require Legislative approval- Ogbeide Ifaluyi-Isibor

By Ogbeide Ifaluyi-Isibor
On the rejection of the motion seeking for the FG to concession the Gele-Gele Seaport to Edo State and grant it an import/Export free zone status......

Read his statement below...

My take

I must congratulate representatives of Edo State at the house of Representatives and most especially Hon EJ Agbonayinma who initiated the motion.i thought the intention was commendable and done in good faith.However,I believe it wasn't appropriately submitted. Here are my thoughts!

The request for imports and export free zones status from the lower chambers was out of place as it didn't require legislative approval.
The licensing, monitoring and regulation of Free Zones Scheme in Nigeria is vested on the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority by the Nigeria Export Processing Zones' Act 63, of 1992.

This act as amended rests the powers to confer free zone status on the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority after laid down conditions are met and approval given by the President on the recommendation of the Hon Minister for Trade and Investment. There was therefore no reason for raising a motion to this effect when there was an already existing Authority licensed by the legislature to grant same.All existing free zones in Nigeria got licensed by NEPZA and approvals given by the President. The powers to do so are the exclusive preserve of the President.
What the Edo state government should do is to set up a team to engage NEPZA,figure out the requirements to operate a free zone in Gele-Gele and take it from there hoping that we would be able to lobby the Presidency for approval .should this be approved,the Nigerian Ports Authority, NEPZA, The Nigerian custom service,The Standards Organization of Nigeria and all other government agencies required can partner with the Edo state government with the Political imprimatur of the Federal Government.

Secondly, my thoughts run against the grey of the caption used in making the said demands or motion in the green chambers.All existing sea ports are run by the federal government as provided in the exclusive legislative list as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution as amended. One would have expected we demanded that the FG developed the Gele-Gele seaport and enter into some partnership with the Edo state government and the private sector. Since independence, the FG has never concessioned a sea port to any state government, instead state governments have upgraded their abilities to negotiate and have gotten into some agreement with the FG to partner in the development of sea ports and ensure some benefits are domiciled in the state coffers for the states development which encompasses and brings to fruition the economic benefits for the state and stated in the motion brought forward by Hon EJ Agbonayinma .

There is a sense in which one must suggest that the motion be repackaged and presented before the house again after Edo rep members and indeed the state government would have lobbied legislators and given them a reason to support the need to have the Gele-Gele seaport developed for the benefit of the Edo people.

One would suggest also that as we progress motions like this would be regarded as light weigh if they are self sponsored.Hon Agbonayinma should reach out ranking members next time who can throw solid weight behind such a motion and give it the force and distance required to get work done on the floor of the house of Representatives. It is also true that the Warri port is comatose and has been so for eon now largely because the FG has focused more on the ports in Lagos but that can't be a reason why Gele-Gele cannot happen. We must bend our sinews to this task and put our shoulders to the will to ensure we get a good bite from what we have in our mouths.

It is not lost on me to add also that it would be beneficial if lawmakers consulted wider when bills such as this are to be initiated or when motions that may appear complex are to be raised when they have town hall meetings with their constituents.We understand that our reps may not be all knowing and there is therefore the need to help them out even as they carry out their roles as assigned to them by the people.

Thank you!
Ogbeide Ifaluyi-Isibor wrote from Upper Siluko, Useh quarters,Benin City.
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