Power Play Stalls Implementation of National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials

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By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Nine months after the inauguration of the National Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Products Development in Nigeria by the federal government, power play and intrigues have since stalled the smooth take off of the implementation of the strategy, THISDAY can reliably report.

Shortly before the country exited its worst economic recession in more than two decades in September 2017, the national strategy was inaugurated on August 8, 2017 by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, and was aimed at developing and repositioning the country on the path of sustainable economic development with irreversible indigenous industrial revolution.

The minister revealed that the national strategy, if well implemented, would result to significant reduction in importation, while also increasing the acceptability of made-in-Nigeria products both locally and internationally.

Onu said: “In short term period of five years implementation effort, by reducing importation by 10.8 per cent, we will be able to save as much as N3 trillion. The reduction in importation is expected to rise to 31 per cent and later 50 per cent respectively in the mid term (10 years) and long term (15 years).

However, nine months after, the National Secretariat, which is the Strategy Implementation Task Unit (SITU) is not yet in place.

The secretariat as recommended by the national strategy will provide a formidable structure required to coordinate the orderly implementation of the strategy to be hosted in Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

THISDAY reliably gathered that the Director General (DG) of RMRDC, Dr. Hussaini Ibrahim, has been frustrating all efforts geared towards the smooth take off of the SITU Secretariat, because he’s not in support of the appointment of the project manager.

According to a source, Ibrahim was the one that hired a consultant to develop a workable national strategy subsequent to the directive of the minister on the need to look at the level of importation of raw materials and products, some of which the country has capacity and capability to produce locally.

Subsequently, a consultant was hired by the DG who was mandated to carry out an evidenced based survey on industries, business and research institutions to secure data and other information that will enable the country to design appropriate strategies to drive Nigeria’s competitiveness in raw materials.

The source said that after the job was done, the minister remarked that if a Nigerian could do this, then he should be hired to lead the implementation team.

The source said that the DG objected since he has another person in mind for the job, but the minister insisted that the consultant be hired.

The source also revealed that instead of the DG to help in putting a SITU secretariat in place as contained in the national strategy, Ibrahim constituted five different committees to oversee the day-to-day running of the secretariat without the project manager being in any of the committees.

The source stated: “The truth is that the National secretariat that is expected to drive and implement till today is not existing as encapsulated in the SITU blueprint, which is international best standard for project unit.

“Rather, some omnibus groups and sections have been put in place which can deliver the raw material components of the strategy, but not the national component aggregate the strategy.

“There are about five committees set up by the DG which he called Commercialisation and SITU secretariat, which the project manager’s name is not there. The committee was set up without the knowledge of the project manager.

“Up till today as we are talking, there is no SITU secretariat, but the project manager has an office now, but in the office there is no logistics of work, only some chairs and table. The key support staff that should drive this things are not there. The logistics of work in terms of communication and transportation are not there.

“If you don’t establish such a thing (SITU secretariat) and you are deceiving the country, the country thought such a thing is there and but is not there. Where is the project account, both domiciliary and local currency account? If development partners are bringing money, where is it going to be?”

The source noted that there is no other way the National Strategy could be implemented if the SITU secretariat is hosted in any agency, adding that it should be hosted under the realm of Ministry of Science and Technology.

“If it is a national strategy, the secretariat should so reflect a national strategy. And again, the true support of executive involvement is not there and then because of that nature, the lack of that central secretariat, other stakeholders are not buying in the way they should buy in. Seeing it as a national entity, rather they are seeing it as entity of one of their payers,” he said.