$600m palm oil import: NANS wants FG to revive moribund plantations, woo private investors

From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has called the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration to return Nigeria to the glory of one of the highest producers and exporters of palm oil in the world by reviving moribund palm plantations in the country.

NANS equally urged the Federal Government to invest heavily in the cultivation of palm trees and processing of palm oil, thereby preventing capital flight over estimated $600m spent by the country to import the product annually.

At a press conference recently, the President, National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) Mr Alphonsus Inyang disclosed that Nigeria spends 600 million dollars on palm oil imports annually.

While describing the expenses as unhealthy for national development, Inyang said the money could be saved and injected into the economy if the palm oil sub-sector was given due attention by the successive governments.

Reacting to the revelation of NPPAN President in a statement on Sunday, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the Clerk of the Senate, NANS National, Abdul-yekinn Odunayo, said that the students body found it shocking and alarming to learn that Nigeria spends humongous sum of $600m to import palm oil annually.

He declared that the situation is not only disheartening and unpleasant, but it has clearly shown that the country was heading to the economic abyss.

NANS noted that as a body that represents students and the youths who are the supposed leaders of tomorrow, it found it appalling that Nigeria is spending fortunes to import palm oil that could be locally sourced.

“Over the years, the country has resorted to importing almost everything and exporting virtually nothing. One wonders whether the people at the helm of affairs in the country have forgotten or better still, failed to understand the economic maxim called Balance of Trade.

“Or, how can a nation with more importation and less exportation grow its economy? It is sad that Malaysia that came to Nigeria to learn how to cultivate palm trees in the 70s is now the second best exporter of the product to the rest of the world.

“If $600m is injected into this current fragile and wobbly economy, we strongly believe that the country will witness a leap in economic prosperity.

“To this end, NANS wants to passionately urge the Federal Government under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to put a mechanism in place to trap this huge capital flight in the name of palm oil importation.

“All moribund palm oil plantations, especially in the southeast and south-south parts of the country should be revived and reactivated by the government, while private investors should be equally wooed with incentives.

“Again, abandoned farm settlements scattered across the southwest should be made active.

“Furthermore, funds should be made available by the government to various research institutes to come up with the latest cultivation techniques of palm trees and processing of palm oil.

“Apart from the foreign exchange earnings that will be generated from the exportation of palm oil, several jobs will also be created for the teeming Nigerian youths and graduates.

“With the necessary infrastructure and right policies, Nigeria will regain its lost glory in the production of palm oil and its exportation to the whole world”. The statement reads partly.

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