Hasten Diversification Of Economy, Improve FX Earnings, Senate Urges FG

The Senate on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to accelerate the process of diversifying Nigeria’s economy from oil and improve foreign exchange earnings.
This followed a resolution by the Senate while considering a motion titled “Urgent need to revive the Palm Oil industry in Nigeria,” sponsored by Senator Francis Onyewuchi (PDP, Imo East) and 15 others.
Resuming plenary session on Tuesday, the Senate, according to a statement by Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to the President of the Senate, urged the Federal Government to support efforts at improving the production of palm oil, so as to meet domestic needs.
While achieving this, the legislators also called for the revival of the now moribund Nigerian Institute For Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in Benin, Edo State, thereby improving investment in research and production of quality oil palm seeds.
The Senators lamented that the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity in Nigeria has resulted in the gradual neglect of agriculture by successive governments.
According to Senator Onyewuchi, “Nigeria spends $500 million on oil palm import annually, despite being the largest producer and exporter of the product in the ’50s and ’60s.”
Sadly, he lamented further, “the country is now the net importer of palm oil, importing 400,000 – 600,000 metric tonnes of palm oil in order to meet local demand.”
Contributing to the debate, the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, bemoaned the lack of discipline and policy implementation in the agricultural sector, warning that “until this is done, there can be no meaningful development to be achieved economically from the sector.”
Commenting, President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, underscored the importance to finance the growth of the agricultural sector in Nigeria.
“In 2005, I was Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture. We funded the Institutes; 22 of them and they did very well. I agree completely that we have not been funding these institutes.
“So, if we need an economy that will work for everyone, then we must invest in the agricultural sector.
“Our committee should engage with the MDAs. So that at the end of the day, we can contribute meaningfully to take agriculture to the next level,” the Senate President added.
Meanwhile, two bills: the Nigerian Transportation Accident Investigation Bureau (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2019 and the Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019, passed first reading in the Senate on Tuesday following the resumption of plenary.
The Nigerian Transportation Accident Investigation Bureau (East, etc) Bill, 2019 (SB.1) was sponsored by Senator Na’allah Bala Ibn (Kebbi South), while the Criminal Code Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (SB,2) was sponsored by Senator Tinubu Oluremi Shade (Lagos Central).
The Senate also received the report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the investigation of the use of Avastin Injection for eye treatment by the National Eye Centre, Kaduna.
The report was presented by Senator Mathew Urhoghide (Edo South).

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