…expresses bitterness over Nigeria’s under-utilization of commodity for foreign exchange
By Bode Akinbode, Ibadan
As the international price of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) now skyrocets to US$500 per tonne, as against $426 of crude oil, the National Palm Produce Association Of Nigeria (NPPAN), has expressed displeasure over failure of the Nigerian government to take palm oil prodution as its major forein exchange earner.
According to the body, which comprises major stakeholders with diverse professional backgrounds, the current domestic market value of palm oil is about N400 per litre, that of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise called petrol remains N145, just as diesel is N210, while kerosene is N250.
NPPAN, in a statement by its national president, Henry Olatujoye and made available to newamen, gave a clear insight into the comparative advantage of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) to substantiate its assertion with with what he called “incontrovertible statistics” that the commodity is costlier than crude oil in the international market.
The body had earlier expressed its total support for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele who emphatically said the CPO held huge economic potential for the country as a leading foreign exchange earner if the investors were fully mobilized.
It recalled that while appearing before the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions for screening for his second term nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari, the CBN governor had declared that the, “price of a tonne of palm oil is more than the price of a barrel of crude oil.”
The NPPAN noted that by, “allowing illegal importation of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) into Nigeria, we are adding to our already saturated unemployment market, while fuelling employment in other countries.”
While reiterating that its members were ready to cooperate and collaborate with the Federal Government, CBN and other government agencies to turn the industry around, the body also restated that its members were ready to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari; Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; Dr Emefiele, Minister of Commerce and Industry and the National Assembly to provide incontrovertible statistics and documents on the comparative advantage CPO has over crude oil as a foreign earner.
It, however, reminded the authorities that a few influential Nigerians were colluding with a few manufacturers to illegally import the commodity towards crippling local production.
The NPPAN leaders said there was huge opportunities for value addition that would make palm oil from Nigeria more competitive in the global market thereby boosting Nigeria’s foreign earnings.
“We are concerned that rather than ban the importation of palm oil into the country; ensure strict compliance and enforcement at the borders, the authorities preoccupies itself with sticking to one commodity-crude oil that is shipped abroad to be refined and imported into Nigeria as finished good at criminal costs and processes fraught with gross abuse, fraud and other forms of sharp practices.
“This process smacks of lack of seriousness and any form of economic sense and wisdom, especially when Nigeria has got a huge comparative advantage over others on the commodity.
“Right now, there is no financial credit, technological support and other assistance from the Government and its agencies for our members that have injected billions of United States dollars into the industry.
“Whereas the cost of establishing a petroleum refinery is estimated at US$500 billion, a mere N50 million can be used to set up a palm oil refinery that can be replicated across the oil palm belt of Nigeria.
“Unlike the price of crude oil which is subject to the vagaries of foreign political powers, forces and cartel, that of palm oil is subject to domestic control mechanism because of the potential of local refining, value addition and packaging before export/ shipment.
“Price fluctuation in global crude oil market constantly threatens and actually imperils the Nigerian economy and subject the lives of Nigerians to serious hardship, huge job losses and factory shutdown with severe social unrests and other dire consequences. Malaysia has a commodity board that ensues standard practice and protect its interest in the global market of palm oil. Why can’t Nigeria set its own?
“We demand again that government check the activities of those bad eggs sabotaging its efforts at the land borders with neighbouring countries and apply the law against individuals, firms and manufacturers shortchanging the nation in that regard.
“It must create the enabling environment by providing infrastructure that will guarantee the ease of doing business in the oil palm belt and march its word with pragmatism and action on assistance to the investors in a similar manner already extended to and provided for rice farmers,” the statement added.