Olawale Ajimotokan, Cynthia Offor in Abuja
The federal governmentâ€™s effort at diversifying the economy took a giant leap after the National Committee on Export Promotion Council (NCEP) at its inaugural meeting, identified mainly six potential commodity products as alternative to oil.
The 13-man NCEP was instituted last week by the National Economic Council (NEC) Chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on export promotion.
It has a Zero Oil Plan (ZOP) initiative to replace oil as the major source of foreign exchange earner by growing non-oil exports from the present $5 billion approximately to $30 billion by 2025.
It is expected to submit an interim report to government by November 16
The Governor of Jigawa State, who is the Chairman of the committee, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, said after its first meeting that it had identified cocoa, arabic gum, sesame seeds, hides and skin, cashews, apricot and banana.
He said that NCEP had identified potential export market for the sesame seeds in Japan, Turkey and China.
He also stressed that Jigawa State was already collaborating with Walcott Group of Companies on the production of Sesame Seeds.
â€œWe discussed very well and have hope that eventually we will develop products and solid minerals that will have very high export value. Exportation is a very big chain and we are committed to providing solution for the Nigerian export,â€œ Abubakar said.
He said NCEP would review the entire value chain process, including quality control, market, logistics and sales to ensure that the produce find buyers when eventually exported.
Under ZOP, the committee is to further add an extra $150 billion minimum to Nigeriaâ€™s foreign reserves cumulatively from non-oil exports over the next 10 years, create at least 500,000 additional jobs annually as well as lift 10 million Nigerians out of poverty.
The Minister of Agriculture and rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who is also a member of the committee, attributed the recent rejection of some Nigerian yam export in the United States to mistakes by exporter.
He said the container was in Nigeria for two months, before it left the countryâ€™s shores in a very hot environment.
He added that Ghanaian yam exports were also affected, adding that exporters should not warehouse perishable goods in bad conditions before shipping.
The members of NCEP include Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, Ogbeh, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, Minister of Power, Works and Housing and counterparts from Finance, Mines and Steel Development.
Others are CEO of Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Olusegun Awolowo, DG of NEPZA, Emmanuel Jime, MD of NEXIM, Mr Abba Bello and Permanent Secretary of MBNP, Leon Aliboh.