By Stephen Ubanna
In spite of the fact that companies set up in Nigerian Free Trade zone, FTZ, are not expected to observe the regulations followed by other companies outside the FTZ, as they do no need to pay any duty on imported raw materials, Adewale Bashir Adeniyi, Comptroller General , Nigerian Customs , NCS, who was recently at Ogun 11, Command , overseeing he excise factories in Ogun, home state of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, as part of his ongoing familiarisation tours of Customs formations across the country appears to have given the operators hope of improved service delivery.
Describing them as critical stakeholders in the nation’s burgeoning economy, Adeniyi who could not hide his feelings was said to have told the operators that that the new Customs Administration will do everything within its powers ‘’to ensure that the companies and businesses set up in the FTZ, prosper’’.
Note that of the over 50 FTZs, in the country, 18, according to informed sources are located in Lagos, the nation’s commercial nerve centre while two are located in Ogun state. Some of the FTZs, located in Lagos, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s home state includes Lagos Free Trade Zone, LFTZ, Snake Island, Integrated Free Trade Zone, SIIFTZ, Lekki Free Trade Zone, LFTZ, Newscrest ASL Services& Logistics, Dangote Industries and Alaro Development Free Trade Zone.
Other FTZs, in the state includes the Maritime Services FTZ, Cocoa Beach &Valnes Valued Chain Resort, Flour Mills FTZ, and Oils Integrated Logistics Services FTZ. These Free Trade Zones alone in Lagos state alone, harbouring some of the most renowned international brands, according to a source in ministry of Industries, Trade and Investment has an estimated investment valued at over $25 billion
Many believe that some of these established Free Trade Zones, particular, the Lake Deep Seaport, owned by the LFTZ, remains a world-class in the league of Colgate, BASF, Insgnia, Power Oil, Arla, HEC, Westminister, Boskalis, CNC, SBS, Kelloggs with its maritime infrastructure valued at about $1.2 billion.
Ogun state may not have had much of the FTZs, compared to Lagos state but the Guandong FTZ, established by the state government in Collaboration with the Asia country of China African Investment Company, CAIC, which has a 100-year concession for all the goods produced in the Free Trade Zone, covering close to 10,000 hectares of Land and Ceeplas at Shagamu were said to have attracted several foreign and local companies to operate in the zone between 2008 and now.
The success of the Guandong FTZ in the state may have informed why the Dapo Abiodum’s government had signed a $400million Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with a foreign firm, Arise Integrated Industrial Platform , on the development of the Olokola FTZ and Remo Agro Processing Zone.
The Olokola FTZ, which was said to have been founded in 2004 and located on a 10,500 hectares of Land along Ondo and the Obasanjo home state. It was expected, according to the source is expected to serve as a multi-purpose deep seaport complex and export processing zone.
Former President Muhammadu Buhari had said that his Administration’s designation of the FTZs, has attracted investment worth over $30 billion into the country within eight years. The former Katsina state born Nigerian President who could beat his chest that the FTZs have become the launch pad for the development and growth of the country’s economy had said that the investments will increase in the coming years with sustained incentives and aggressive investment drive. He had listed the incentives in the FTZs , to include tax free operations, free fiscal duty for imported raw materials, machinery, and equipment and exemption from levies. And
Adeniyi, the new Customs helmsman may have gladdened the heart of officials of the excise factories at the FTZs, across the country when he declared at Abeokukuta, Headquarters of the Ogun II, Command, under the close watch of acting Comptroller Ahmadu Shuaibu, who has established himself as a revenue mobilizer that ‘’Customs officers are overzealous in implementation of the laws’’ to encourage more investments in the FTZs.
Hear him: it is the intention of the government through these companies operating in the FTZs to boost foreign Exchange revenue generation for the country, create jobs for the teeming unemployed Nigerian Youths expected to enhance the nation’s economic development and growth.
He had collaborated the views of the former Nigerian President when he revealed that’’ it is the reason why a number of concessions, waivers, have been granted the companies operating in the FTZs, across the country’’. As a prelude to sustain the investment in the FTZs, the Customs boss was said to have set up a committee, barely two months in office comprising of representatives of the Customs, companies operating in the FTZ, the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority, NEPZA, Oil and Gas Authority to look at the areas of concern of the DTZs.
He may have drawn the attention of acting Comptroller Shuaibu, the Ogun II,Area Controller whose Command is overseeing the 18 full functional excise factories, in the state, described as the biggest in the country and other Command Area Controllers, which control one, two or more excise factories to understand ‘’the strategic importance of their operations and activities to the country’s economic development’’. Shuaibu
An insider had informed The inline Magazine that the Ogun II, Customs Command which ought to be responsible in overseeing 57 excise factories within the Ogun state but currently had only 18 of such factories operational in the state because of the downturn of the economy.
As at May, 2023, 36 excise factories were said to be fully operational in the state while 11 were under documentation at the Customs Headquarters but could not be completed for approval until Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and the customs immediate past Comptroller General was removed from office by Tinubu, the incumbent Nigerian President.
The Magazine learnt that 10 of the excise factories in the state had remained moribund over the years. This is where President Tinubu has to formulate new policies that will help in the reviving of the moribund excise factories in state and other parts of the country.