It is now an offence for any company or individual to import palm oil into Nigeria.
In its bid to boost local production and create more jobs, President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed the apex bank to include palm oil among the banned 42 items and to prosecute firms, owners and management that violated the order by importing the product into the country.
The presidential directive was disclosed yesterday by the governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele.
Emefiele said that to grow the economy and provide jobs for more Nigerians, “we must go back to palm oil production.”
Addressing a gathering of state governors and stakeholders in the palm oil value chain in Abuja yesterday, explained that he has a new presidential directive to focus on the massive production of 10 commodities: rice, maize, cassava, tomatoes, cotton (the entire textile value chain), oil palm, pottery, fish, livestock and cocoa in Nigeria, adding that, “this is the programme we will be embarking upon in the next couple of years.”
He said that the presidential directive mandated the CBN and other relevant government agencies to “expand, support people who want to expand the products in Nigeria.”
Buhari, according to him, also directed the monetary authorities to blacklist from the foreign exchange market and the banking industry all firms, their owners and their top management caught smuggling or dumping any of the restricted 43 items in Nigeria.
He said: “We are going to work very aggressively on this mandate; we will no longer allow any further importation of palm oil into Nigeria. We must create jobs in our rural communities. Aside giving support to those interested in industrial (large scale) production, we are also supporting out growers’ schemes to be developed under some of the large companies where seedlings and fertilisers, chemicals are provided over a period of four years.”
The CBN governor said that the economic department of the apex bank had started investigating the accounts of those that are involved in smuggling or dumping palm oil in Nigeria.
He said that the invitation of all the stakeholders in the palm oil sector to the meeting was to intimate them with the presidential directive, stressing that the “importation of palm oil into Nigeria must stop.”
He acknowledged the need for the CBN and commercial banks to create an opportunity for the affected people and businesses to access credit to grow their plantations.
Emefiele announced that the bank had done the first set of disbursement of about N30 billion to some oil palm producers and promised that credit facilities would be extended to new comers in the scheme in the second phase of disbursement.
He said that the meeting was organised to match the lands available from the state governments with those who want to invest.
Emefiele, who admitted that local oil producers had asked the importers to stop their acts to no avail, said: “this time you must listen because we need to create jobs in Nigeria.”
In his remarks, Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki highlighted the steps taken (including a proposed palm oil summit) taken by his administration to ensure commercial production of oil palm in the state and its sustainability.
The farmers and representatives of the various state governments and other stakeholders in the sector were given the opportunity to make their presentations and the challenges facing them, which were addressed by Emefiele.