By Stephen Ubanna
Former President Muhammadu Buhari, who retired to Daura, his home town in the north western state of Katsina , which is about eight Kilometers to Niamey, Capital ,of Niger Republic, RT200, scheme meant to raise the conscious of Nigerian export-oriented companies and other categories of exporters appear to have made appreciable impact on the economy over the last one year.
The Value News findings shows that the apex bank has made a disbursement of N144 billion to the Nigeria exporters between January and April, 2023, barely one month before Bola Ahmed Tinubu , a former governor of Lagos state governor on the platform of the All Progressive congress, APC, was sworn in by Justice Olukayode Ariwola, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, as the President and Commander –In-Chief , C-In-C, of the Nigerian Armed Forces, to encourage the export –oriented companies to put more efforts in their export drive.
Godwin Emefiele Emefiele, a former governor of the CBN, who is being investigated by the Department of State Security, DSS, at the instance of the Lagos state born Nigerian President was said to have supervised the disbursement of the funds to the Nigerian export –oriented Companies and other non- oil exporters.
Informed sources told The Value News that the money was allegedly disbursed to the exporters of semi and finished, goods wholly or partly processed and manufactured in Nigeria that are permissible and excluded under the export prohibition list as rebates in the life of the RT200 non – oil rebate scheme. The source had revealed that at the last quarter of 2022, the bank had paid the sum of N25.04 billion to the, exporters as each exporter was said to have receive N3.23 billion to boost their export trade.
The Katsina born Nigerian President was said to have introduced the scheme as a way ‘’ to incentivize the exporters in the non-oil sector of the economy and ‘’to encourage repatriation and sale of their export proceeds into the CBN, forex market.
The scheme was said to have been anchored on a five –point agenda with a view to raising $200 billion in forex earnings in the next five years by developing new strategies that will enhance the country’s forex inflow, diversify sources of the forex inflow, increase the level of non-oil exports, ensure the stability and sustainability of the forex inflows and equally support the export-oriented companies to expand their export operations and capabilities.
Going by the payment structure approved for the scheme of the RT 200 scheme by the then Federal Executive Council, FEC, under the chairmanship of Buhari, the then Nigerian President, the CBN, was mandated to pay N65.00, for every North American country of the United States, US, $1, repatriated and sold at the investors’ and Exporters ‘ window for third party utilization and N35.00 for every US , $1 repatriated and sold for the exporters’ own use on eligible transactions only .
On May 10, 2023, barely 19, days for the Buhari’s Administration to wind up and for Tinubu , to step in, O.S Nnaji, the apex bank Director of Trade and Foreign Exchange Department , at the instance of Emefiele had issued a statement that ‘’exporters of raw and unprocessed items, will be paid a rebate of N25.00, for every dollar of non-oil export proceeds sold to third parties at the importers and exporters window while N15.00 will paid for every US $1 repatriated and sold on the investor’ and exporters’ window for own use . The bank was said to have backdated the payment to April 1, 2023. The CBN Director had said that’’ the rebate was part of the benefits under the non-oil export proceeds repatriation rebate scheme’’, urging dealers ‘’to ensure strict compliance to the rebate’’.
The payments, according to an informed source to the export oriented Companies on a quarterly basis. It was not surprising why N144 billion, was paid to the benefiting export-oriented companies in the first quarter of 2023, for he alleged export of Ginger, Cocoa butter, Rubber, Palm Kernel oil, Textiles and garments, Gallstone , Sesame seed, Garlic and Yam tubers.
Other items allegedly exported by the companies to earn forex sold in the CBN, investors and exporters window as well as the importers’ window included Charcoal, Cotton, Cassava floor, Cashew Nuts, Honey, Shrimps, Snail, Chili Pepper, Fruit juice, Poultry, Cosmetics, soap, wigs and hair attachments to earn forex and repatriate into the country forex market .
The government may not have helped matters for the exporters as it was said to have prohibited the export of rice, cement, magerine, palm kerne/palm oil products, vegetable oils, meat and processed meat products, Poultry chicken, eggs, turkey , private air –planes and jets, wheel barrows, roofing sheets, Headpans, Metal boxes and containers and Enamelware by the interested export-orientate companies as recommended by the CBN, under the leadership of Emefiele.
Other processed and manufacture items prohibited by the Nigerian government for export included steel drums, steel pipes, Iron rods and reinforcing bard, Wire mesh, steel nails, security and razor wine, Wood particles board woven fabrics clothes, plastic and rubber products, polypropylene granules, cellophane wrappers, soap and panels, wooden door, toothpicks, glass and glassware, Kitchen utensils and tableware.This is in addition to tiles-vitrified and ceramics, soap and cosmetics, tomatoes and tomatoes pates .
Until his arrest and detention by the DSS, the former CBN, governor, who had described the RT 200 Programme, as a huge success had said that a total of $1.7 billion was repatriated between January and May, this year , noting that $790 million was sold at the Investors and Exporters window.
According to the embattled immediate past governor of the apex bank, the balance of the repatriated US dollar, which run into millions, by the exporters has ‘’remained in the exporters’ domiciliary accounts’’. An insider told The Magazine that Nigerian exporters before now sold their dollar proceeds at the Parallel market.
Indeed, the success of the RT 200 scheme, over the last one and half years, may have informed why Emefiele, had given his words that that the CBN, under his Leadership , would continue ‘’to engage the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, to increase the volume of the country’s non-oil exports, believed to be the most sustainable source of forex to any country’’, particular, the US and the Asian country of China.
This may have informed why he has called the enactment of unconventional, innovative m supportive and complementary microeconomic policy actions that are inclined toward a market-based financing system to tackle the economic challenges of the country but that was how far he could.
Recall that when he was still calling the shot at the CBN, he had said that the collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee identified RT200scheme and export promotion in general is a critical tool for attaining sustainable and stable external balance and safeguarding the value of the local currency in both the official and parallel forex market.
During is electioneering Campaign , incumbent President Tinubu, had promised that if elected as the next President of Nigeria, after the February 25, 2023, Presidential election, his Administration would pay more attention to export of locally processed and manufactured goods and import less in order to earn more foreign exchange to strengthen the naira.
This may have informed why he has promised to industrialise the south east of Abia to make it one of the major exporters of manufactured goods in Nigeria. The former Lagos state governor who had described the popular Aba market in the state, as one of the largest in the west African sub-region, had said that he sees the Aba becoming a major exporter of all types of manufactured goods to Asia, north and south America , including Europe.
Many believe that if he could fulfill his promise to promote export of locally processed and manufactured goods, Nigeria’s economy would be on the path of growth as the demand for forex for importation of foregn goods would drop considerably.