28TH JUNE, 2020 PRESS STATEMENT NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SHOULD AS A MATTER OF URGENCY REPEAL THE 1996 ACT ESTABLISHING THE OIL AND GAS FREE ZONE AUTHORITY (OGFZA) AND MERGE IT WITH THE NIGERIA EXPORT PROCESSING ZONES AUTHORITY (NEPZA) TO FORM ONE AGENCY

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1. We most humbly request the National Assembly to as a matter of urgency and public interest revert to the earlier status of the nation’s export processing zones by repealing the 1996 Act establishing the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) and amending the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) Act 1992 to absorb the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) as a specialised department of NEPZA in Oil and Gas.

2. The NEPZA Act of 1992 empowered the agency to administer and manage all the Export Processing Zones in the country. But surprisingly, the 1996 OGFZA Act was enacted for the oil zone at Onne/Okpokiri, probably in consideration of the importance of the sector in the nation’s economy.

3. But rather than adding any economic value, the action, Years down the line, ended up duplicating the functions of NEPZA and bloated personnel cost as a result of the management of the same agency which now operates as two different agencies.

4. The recent directive by President Muhammadu Buhari for the implementation of the recommendations of the Steve Oronsaye led Presidential Committee on the need to downsize the number of government agencies in the country to reduce the cost of governance is a deserving policy by an administration determined to re-write the wrong policies of the previous administrations in the country. Our petition on this subject is therefore very timely as it is in support of President Buhari’s concern on the need to reduce cost of governance.

5. Part of our objectives as a non-governmental organization is to provide necessary data through our research efforts to guide government in its policy formulations and implementations, and that was why we took time to study the objectiveness of allowing these two agencies (NEPZA and OGFZA), which have same functions, and we realised that it was an unnecessary duplication of agencies, probably designed to satisfy the interest of an individual then.

6. Our investigation revealed as follows:

a. That the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief U. J. Ekaette, communicated the recommendation of the Presidential Committee on Free Trade Zone to the then Hon. Minister of Commerce, Dr. Aliyu Modibo Umar on the 17th October, 2006 that there should be only one Free Zone Authority to be known as Nigeria Free Zones Authority which will be responsible for policy formulation for and general supervision of free zones.

b. The Report of the Presidential Committee on the Restructuring and Rationalization of the Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies of April 2012 also recommended that the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) be reverted to the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) by simply amending the Act establishing NEPZA.

7. The urgency for National Assembly to attend to our petition on this matter has further become necessary because of the ravaging effect of the global pandemic on the nation’s economy. What the country needs now is more industries and not duplication of agencies.

8. We, as concerned citizens, and in particular members of the organized Civil Society have therefore presented this issue to the National Assembly via a petition dated 21st June, 2020 for their urgent attention and necessary action.

9. We are doing this under the auspices of the whistle-blower policies of successive Nigerian Administrations, including the current one.

10.We are also calling on the Nigeria media to lend their voices to this clarion as it is our collective duty to act in the interest of the nation and to do so promptly.

11.Thank you and best regards.

___________________

CHIEF DENNIS AGHANYA

Executive Secretary

Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI)

See our Petition to National Assembly Bellow:

21st June, 2020

THE Senate President,

Sen. Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan

National Assembly Complex

Three Arm Zone

Abuja.

Sir,

REQUEST TO RESTRUCTURE NIGERIA EXPORT PROCESSING ZONES AUTHORITY (NEPZA) AND ONNE OIL AND GAS FREE ZONE AUTHORITY (OGFZA) INTO NEPZA AS ONE AGENCY

1. We most humbly request the National Assembly to as a matter of urgency and public interest revert to the earlier status of the nation’s export processing zones by commencing steps to repeal the 1996 Act establishing the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) and amending the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) Act 1992 to absorb the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) as a specialised department of NEPZA in Oil and Gas. This is one of the best practices for a society conscious of any meaningful economic development.

2. You may recall that the NEPZA Act of 1992 empowered the agency to administer and manage all the Export Processing Zones in the country. This includes but not limited to oil, agriculture and other sectors of the economy for export purposes.

3. In 1996 the current OGFZA Act was enacted as a replication of the duties of NEPZA but specifically for the oil zone at Onne/Okpokiri, probably in consideration of the importance of the sector in the nation’s economy.

4. Years down the line, the consequences of this duplication is some bloated personnel cost in the management of the same agency which now operates as two different agencies.

5. Our investigation revealed as follows:

a. That the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief U. J. Ekaette, communicated the recommendation of the Presidential Committee on Free Trade Zone to the then Hon. Minister of Commerce, Dr. Aliyu Modibo Umar on the 17th October, 2006 that there should be only one Free Zone Authority to be known as Nigeria Free Zones Authority which will be responsible for policy formulation for and general supervision of free zones.

b. The Report of the Presidential Committee on the Restructuring and Rationalization of the Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies of April 2012 also recommended that the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) be reverted to the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) by simply amending the Act establishing NEPZA.

6. Specifically, this petition is necessitated by the recent directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to implement recommendations of the Steve Oronsaye led Presidential Committee on the need to downsize the number of government agencies in the country to reduce the cost of governance.

7. This has further become necessary as a result of the covid-19 pandemic which is currently ravaging global economy.

8. Government policies should be formulated for public interest rather than personal interest, a situation we consider that gave rise to the duplication of agencies (NEPZA, OGFZA etc.).

9. We, as concerned citizens, and in particular members of the organized Civil Society have therefore presented this issue for your urgent attention.

10.This petition is made under the auspices of the whistle-blower policies of successive Nigerian Administrations, including the current one.

11.We believe it is your duty to act in the interest of the nation and to do so promptly.

12.Thank you and best regards.

___________________

CHIEF DENNIS AGHANYA

Executive Secretary/CEO

Cc:

1. Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF)

2. Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice

3. Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment

4. The Managing Director, NEPZA

5. The Managing Director, OGFZA

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