The Federal Government has approved the establishment of an appropriate mechanism that would not only protect the indigenous farmers in terms of achieving the right prices for their goods and commodities but also ensure that they have the appropriate incentives and the needed encouragement to guarantee their continued participation in the farming business.
The approval was aimed towards ensuring that Nigerian farmers are no longer cheated in the purchase of their farm produce by foreigners who will now have to go through licensed local buying agents to do business with the farmers.
The Minister of Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the virtual Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Minister said he presented two memos on behalf of his ministry before the council, explaining that one of which was the promotion of agribusiness in Nigeria through right farm gate pricing and ban on foreigners and their representatives from purchasing agricultural commodities at the farm gates.
He explained that over the years, foreigners have been going to the farm gates to buy produce from the farmers at low prices, thus discouraging the farmers from continuing with their trade.
According to him, “We finally got approval from FEC today for only licensed local buying agents who must be registered by the relevant national commodity associations, they are the ones who now will be able to buy goods directly from the farmers and sell to the foreigners.
“This way, the farmers will no longer be cheated by these foreigners who just throw money at them and are able to buy their goods.”
He further stated that he presented another memo to FEC for the approval of Trade Policy Action Plan with the theme “Unleasing Nigeria’s Development Potentials through Trade and Investment”.
He said the Action Plan which was also approved by Council was formulated with a view to utilising trade as another means of generating revenue outside oil whose revenue is on the downward trend.
The Minister said, “The whole idea is that because we’re not making as much money as we used to from sale of oil, and because of reduction in the money that comes from that aspect of Nigeria’s revenue generation, we want to utilize trade as a means of generating revenue for the country.
“So, the action plan aims to utilise the existing national trade policy to facilitate an effective use of international trade and investment as tools for economic growth and poverty reduction in the country.
“So, we’ve got approval from Council today to engage with all the ministries, departments and agencies involved in trade and revenue generation, and also the organized private sector and civil society organisations to ensure a successful implementation of the trade policy action plan.
“One of the next steps that we will be taking now that we have this approval, is to inaugurate a committee which will look into the update of the existing trade policy, which was last updated in 2002. And also, we’ll be looking into coming up with an investment policy. And these two policies we believe should be ready before the end of this year”.
Also briefing, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, said FEC approved the introduction of another layer of quality assurance certificate in government digital services.
He explained that before now, all federal public institutions have been mandated by law and also by government policies, that before they embark on any information technology project, they must obtain IT Project Clearance to embark on it.
He said, “There are so many benefits of that, this is provided for in NITDA Act 2007, Section 6, under Article A and the federal government has re-emphasize that through a circular on 31st August 2018. So many federal public institutions have been complying with this and the report is very commendable. We presented the report before the Federal Executive Council today. The report covers 1st of January, 2021 to 31st December ,2021. This is a copy of the report; IT Project Clearance Performance Report for Government Digital Services 2021.
“This report captures all the IT projects in the country, particularly towards our government digital services for the whole year. In that report, it is clearly mentioned that 282 major projects were submitted for clearance, out of this number 258 were cleared and 24 were rejected and the total amount submitted seeking for permission to implement the project was over N213 billion by many federal public institutions.
“Out of this, NITDA cleared around N154 billion and if you compute the amount submitted and the amount approved, you will discover that we are able to save more than N24 billion for the federal government of Nigeria. More than N24 billion, comparing the proposed amount and the approved amount for the implementation.”
The Minister noted that the above information was part of the strategies of introducing ICT Projects Clearance; one, to save costs; two, to fight corruption and this is very important.
“We have been discovering so many cases that are suspicious and we reviewed them critically, draw the attention of institutions, where necessary. Sometimes some institutions were able to report it to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or any institution of government as the case may be.
“Also, part of the benefits is to ensure the security of our digital facilities because part of the clearance any project submitted is going to be reviewed critically to ensure that the security of our country, particularly our cyberspace, is not going to be compromised. Also, the clearance makes sure that it is in compatibility with the Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, Nigeria eGovernment Enterprise Architecture, Nigeria eGovernment Interoperability Framework. These are some of the benefits of the clearance.”
The Minister further stated that after his presentation, FEC also approved another layer that any project that is up to N1 billion, after completing the project, that institution is mandated and directed to obtain quality assurance certificate from the National Information Technology Development Agency.
He said: “The reasons for introducing this layer are many, but some of them like number one, we discover the sometimes an approval or clearance could be granted in the cost of implementation, some of the specifications will be changed and if there is no quality assurance certificate, we will not be able to know whether the project is implemented according to the clearance or not.
“Secondly, it is part of building a system. Some of the stages of building a system include feasibility study, preliminary investigation, system analysis, system design, system coding, and also system implementation, and also system testing. So, it is through system testing, we will be able to certify and confirm the quality of that system, whether it’s assured or not.
“So, what is most important from today henceforth, any ICT project that is not N1 billion, after obtaining the clearance, at the end of the project, that institution is required to look for quality assurance certificate, so that we will be able to drive the maximum benefit of that government investment.”