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Monday, June 5, 2023

Nigeria’s economic liberation dependent on non-oil export – Ezra Yakusak

As Nigeria continues to grapple with myriads of economic challenges, particularly given the fluidity of global oil market prices, the country’s inability to meet standards set by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the many in-country loopholes beguiling Nigeria’s oil-based macroeconomics, non-oil export has again gained the spotlight in conversations shaping the economic future of Nigeria.

Dr Ezra Yakusak
Executive Director/CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Dr Ezra Yakusak

Speaking during a webinar on “Talking Trade with Femi Boyede”, the Executive Director/CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Dr Ezra Yakusak, has reaffirmed that Nigeria’s economic liberation is dependent on how well the non-oil export sector is explored and exploited.

In a presentation titled “Towards an Export-Driven Nigeria: Our Vision, Our Approach”, Dr. Yakusak emphasised that there is a need for all stakeholders in the non-oil export sector to convene and discuss their respective central roles in the nation’s development.

He said: “Our vision at NEPC is to make the world a marketplace for Nigerian non-oil products and to diversify the productive base of the Nigerian economy away from oil and foster a market-oriented, private sector-driven economy through export products development.”

Dr. Ezra Yakusak stated that non-oil exports have become the only road to the economic survival of Nigeria as a nation.

“In February 2022, during a retreat with some key stakeholders across both private and public sectors, we came up with the ‘Export For Survival’ mantra to embrace national consciousness and mobilize more citizens to engage meaningfully in non-oil exports as a sure way to contribute to our survival as a nation, which is also a wake-up call for massive investment in the non-oil export sector.”

Elaborating on some of NEPC’s interventions and ongoing programmes, Dr. Yakusak said: “NEPC received a grant of N50 billion under the Economic Sustainability Program of the Federal Government as an Export Expansion Facility Program (EEFP). The purpose was to stimulate non-oil export, to safeguard local jobs, and protect businesses from the adverse effects of COVID -19. A lot of companies and businesses benefited from the grant.” He also stressed the impact of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) on the development of this nation, stating that, “without the EEG a lot of industries or firms would have folded up or would have gone bankrupt with thousands of jobs possibly lost.”

He further applauded the Talking Trade with Femi Boyede initiative as a beneficial webinar, not only to the non-oil export community in Nigeria but also to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC). While applauding the success of the inaugural Export for Survival Walk which took place on February 19, 2022, he announced that the NEPC has scheduled the second Export for Survival Walk in Abuja for Saturday, May 14, 2022.

Contributing during the webinar, Dr. Bamidele Ayemibo, the CEO of 3T Impex Consulting, said: “From my findings, many exporters try to export once or twice, after which they are unable to export again. Such a situation should be curbed or reduced. This underscores the need for all exporters to learn adequately and build their export-readiness capacity before starting the business in order to avoid or reduce dropout of exporters.”

Abu Ndah Ali, one of the participants and Commercial Attaché-designate, praised the NEPC for the progress recorded and the work they are doing. He also stressed the need for the NEPC to work closely with other regulatory agencies to curb the challenges most MSMEs are facing.

In response to Mr Ibraheem Haruna’s question about having an Export Trade House in Canada, Mr. Yakusak assured all that the NEPC is working on the suggestion.

Another participant, Dr. Omolola Akanji, a former Director, Trade and Exchange at CBN, re-emphasised the need for sustainability of all the programmes and projects that are handled, so as to avoid the reoccurrence of cases of policy summersaults witnessed in the past. She also stressed the need to strengthen the private-public partnerships in exporting.

She further emphasised the need for an export supervision group/team in and outside the country and including SON as relevant to inspections, as well as including the Nigerian Customs Services in Trade facilitation.

The convener, Olufemi Boyede, a non-oil export campaigner, expressed regrets that Nigeria is still generating a larger chunk of its revenue from crude oil export which he described as “unsustainable.” Mr. Boyede thanked the leadership of the NEPC for taking the initiative to successfully host the National Conference of Non-oil Export held in Abuja.

He also applauded the ED, Dr. Yakusak for his vibrancy and visionary approach that has brought a paradigm shift in promoting Nigeria’s non-oil exports.

By Tomini Adebote, Abuja, Nigeria

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