President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday declared the 2020 edition of the Lagos International Trade Fair open, reiterating the Federal Government’s commitment to revamping Nigeria’s Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).
Newsmen report that the trade fair, which is being promoted by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), will be on till Dec. 13.
The fair, the 34th edition, is holding both physically at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos, and virtually.
The president, represented by the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Niyi Adebayo, said the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic had made it imperative to accelerate the growth of the industrial sector.
Buhari said: “We are currently revamping the NIRP with a focus on driving backward integration and increasingly domesticating production of key products, especially sugar, dairy, palm oil, cotton, textiles and garments, automobiles and cassava starch.
“We are also to concession two Brownfield Special Economic Zones (Kano and Calabar) while commencing work on developing four additional Greenfield sites across the country.”
According to him, the government is also facilitating trade and maximising the benefits of international trade through multilateral trade relations with other countries.
He said the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) was working assiduously to boost the country’s non-oil sector revenue and had rolled out export policies for 22 major products that could generate up to US$30 billion annually in foreign exchange.
Buhari said: “To boost our trade activities and prospects, we must support locally manufactured goods.
“It is in this regard; our government signed the Executive Order 003 in 2017 and several campaigns have been launched to create necessary awareness and momentum.
“As you will agree with me, this will, among other things, enable us create employment for our large and growing population, diversify the economy from a relatively narrow base, build industrial capacity and trade competitiveness.”
He said that it would improve the management of Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves to alleviate the economy’s vulnerability to changes in crude oil prices.
“Once again, I want to use this medium to call for collaboration from various government agencies in this regard.
“These accomplishments I have mentioned are a testament to the fact that all hands are on deck in establishing a solid foundation for even greater successes in future.
“Our government is committed to continuing to forge ahead in the quest of making Nigeria realise its social and economic potential.
“Therefore, the cooperation of us all as patriotic Nigerians as well as that of our friends and partners from around the world will be required to achieve our set targets,” the president said.
Also, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajidr Sanwo-Olu, represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, said the fair provides unique opportunities for traders, investors and buyers from different parts of the globe.
Sanwo-Olu said the government was aligning with LCCI on its advocacy for the enthronement of policy consistency through alignment of fiscal and monetary policies.
This, he said, is to effectively address the myriad of bottlenecks impeding industrialisation, trade and investment in the country.
He assured the business community of the administration’s commitment to improving the business environment to make it more attractive for investment.
According to him, this is in the face of the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic and devastating outcomes that followed the hijack of the peaceful #ENDSARS protest.
The governor said several businesses and business owners had been thrown into a state of confusion, debt and total loss following the vandalism and destruction.
He said:”As a government, we are doing all we can to restore hope and to also help these businesses get back on their feet.
“We understand that restoring our city will entail giving hope and succor to entrepreneurs and business owners, and in order to cushion the effect of all that has happened to them, we have provided avenues to give financial support in the forms of loans and grants.
“We will also be providing tax break of PAYE to affected business owners where appropriate.
“The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSTEF) is partnering with the private sector players to help businesses whose properties were looted or vandalised.
“We have also created a N2.5 billion Lagos Recovery Fund for looted businesses, and so far, over 2,500 business owners have applied.”
Earlier in her address of welcome, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, President, LCCI, said the chamber had strong faith in the Nigerian economy and that the country would soon exit recession.
She said: “The LCCI is committed to the vision of the current administration in respect of economic diversification and self-reliance.
“Our programmes, advocacy activities and capacity development are geared toward the realisation of economic aspirations.
“We recognise the imperative of non-oil sector development and the need to add value to our primary products in order to improve earnings for both the public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy.
“This trade fair provides a platform to identify non-oil alternatives and highlights the significance of value addition.
“The trade fair equally serves as an avenue to boost economic and commercial activities.”