By Miriam Humbe
There are indications that the Nigerian paper industry may come alive during the lifespan of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo, revealed yesterday that the Federal Government would resuscitate the paper Industry for the economic diversification of the country.
The Minister disclosed this at the inauguration ceremony of the Committee for the Resuscitation of the Nigerian Paper Industry held in Abuja.
The Minister stated that “The critical role the Paper Industry plays in any economy is evidenced in all aspects of our endeavours, ranging from Education, Agriculture, Banking, Health sectors, among many others. The Paper Industry therefore serves as an indicator to the growth and development of any economy in the world. As you are aware, a vibrant paper industry has been identified as a key component of assessing the self-sufficiency status of any economy”.
“Let me emphasize that this is very important to the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and personally as a Minister in charge of Industry, and Trade and Investment because it represents one of the litmus tests of our resolve to correct some of the wrongs which have been done to the Nigerian economy” , the Minister stated.
Otunba Adebayo who was represented at the ceremony by the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Yalwaji Katagum explained that the vision of government in setting three major mills industries namely, the National Paper Manufacturing Company (NPMC); Nigeria Newsprint Manufacturing Company (NNMC) and Nigeria Paper Mill (NPM) in the 70s and 80s was to build up platforms, taking advantage of the rich forest resources available in the country and to enhance local capacity to meet up with country’s demand for paper and paper products, stressing that, “it is on record these Industries were functional and operational until they were privatized”.
The Minister further stated that available record showed that the Industry contributed in meeting the paper products requirements of the Country, but recent findings revealed that virtually all the paper and paper products’ needs which amounted to over 800 billion Naira annually, were imported, describing it, as unsustainable.
He maintained that the Buhari Next Level Agenda was poised to reverse this ugly trend in the industry especially in its resolve and commitment to the economic diversification of the country, stressing that, the Committee has critical role to come up with innovative and new ideas towards the resuscitation of the industry. In his words, “I charge you to leave no stone unturned in the course of your assignment as I give you my full support in the discharge of this national assignment without fear or favour” Adebayo said.
Members of the Commitee on resuscitation of the Nigerian Paper Industry which had the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Edet Sunday Akpan as Chairman also had members drawn from the Ministry and relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies has the following Terms of Reference which included to determine the conditions/terms under which the paper mills were privatized; assess the status of the mills since privatization; carry out due diligence of the privatized paper mills; to interface with new prospective investors who have indicated interest in the paper mills; to recommend measures for the resuscitation of the Paper industry; to liaise with relevant Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the need to propose sector specific incentives/concessions required to attract investments into manufacturing of paper and paper products in the country as well as to propose and recommend holistic measures for the resuscitation of the paper industry in the country.
Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Edet Sunday Akpan thanked the Honourable Minister for the new assignment and assured him of their commitment to ensure that all relevant persons and institutions are carried along that the industry is revived again.
In his remarks, the Director- General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, Mr. Alexander A. Okoh who was represented by the Director, Post Transition Management, Alhaji Yusuf Adamu, said that all efforts would be channeled towards the resuscitation of the Nigerian Paper Industry to attract Foreign Direct Investment.