By Alex Okoro and Majeed Bakare
OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives mandated its Committees on Agricultural Production and Services and Customs and Excise to investigate the ministry of Agriculture’s disregard of an existing law prohibiting the exportation of yam tubers.
Also to be probed are the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Segun Awolowo, Director General of the Standards Organization of Nigeria, and Head of the Nigerian Quarantine Service. Others are heads of all other relevant agencies.
They are all expected to explain why and how they granted export license for food products prohibited from exportation.
Recall that 72 tonnes of yam tubers exported sometime in June 2017 to the United States were rejected and returned because they were found to be rotten on arrival, thereby causing the nation great embarrassment.
The resolution of the House emanated from a motion entitled “Need to Determine Why Food Products Prohibited from Exportation are being Exported and also do not Meet International Standards” raised by Mr. Gaza Jonathan (APC, Nasarawa) during plenary.
In his lead debate, Jonathan expressed worries that the rotten yams raised concerns about the capacity of Ministries, Departments and Agencies charged with the responsibilities of conducting necessary quality checks on goods billed for export to diligently carry out their assignments.
He said this incident also calls to question the safety of food approved for local consumption by those Ministries, Departments and Agencies concerned.
The lawmaker reminded the House that “the Schedule of the Export (Prohibition) Act, Cap. E22, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 lists Beans, Cassava tuber, Maize, Rice, Yam tuber and their product derivatives as goods absolutely prohibited from exportation from Nigeria adding that a Bill for an Act to repeal the provisions of the Export Prohibition Act, had recently passed second reading in the House”.
Majority of contributors who supported the motion and advised that the country should look inward to add value to agricultural produce as is the case with Ghana and other countries before exporting.
Mr. Mohammed Ganduje (APC, Jigawa) was vehement in his condemnation of the exportation of agricultural products, saying it is only when a country has been able to satisfy its population that it can think of exportation.
The Federal Government had earlier launched the yam exportation program with a projected earning of $10 billion in foreign exchange in the course of the next four years as part of measures to diversify the economy.