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FEC okays draft bills to make transport sector private-driven



THE Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved eight draft bills in line with the President Goodluck Jonathan administration’s transport sector reforms geared at making it private sector driven.

  The draft bills, which are now ready to be transmitted to the National Assembly for passage include the National Transport Commission Bill (2014)); National Roads Fund Bill; and the Federal Roads Authority Bill.

  Also approved was the National Policy on Staple Crops Processing Zones ( SCPZs) for the agriculture sector and a bill for the National Agency for the Great Green Wall, an instrument that would provide the necessary legal and institutional framework for combating and halting desert encroachment into Nigeria hinterland and reclaim the decertified areas in the country.  The Council approved draft bill for the creation of Competitive and Consumer Protection Bill aimed at not only enhancing the quality of products, but protect an average Nigerian consumer against sharp practices of unscrupulous manufacturers. 

  Some of the bills, especially in the transport sector, will see to the establishment of new Federal Government agencies and authorities in the transport sector, whereas the SCPZs are expected to develop commercial agriculture and attract private sector food processing companies into the rural area. 

  The rest are Nigeria Ports and Harbour Authority Bill (2014)); National Inland Waterways Authority Bill (2014)); and Nigeria Railway Authority Bill (2014).

  On hand to brief State House correspondents about the outcome of the meeting, which lasted more than five hours were the Ministers of Transport, Idris Umar, Mike Onolememen for Works, Laraba Laurencia Mala for Environment, Akin Adesina for Agriculture and Olusegun Aganga for Industry, Trade and Investment. The briefing was coordinated by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, in the absence of the substantial Minister of Information.

    The transport minister said the reforms in the sector is geared towards instituting a private-driven industry. The ministry had at the weekend disclosed that plans were underway by the government to privatise the sector. The National Policy on Staple Crops Processing Zones, according to Adesina, is an instrument to guide the development, management, and operation of the processing zones which are central to Nigeria’s drive for rapid diversification of the economy via agriculture.

  The policy, he added, provides guidelines for, amongst others, promoting public and private sector investment in infrastructure development such as roads, power, water, ICT land clearing as well as ensuring price stabilisation mechanisms to balance demand and supply gaps of available raw materials. 

The policy will also ensure programme funding support through public sector, budgetary allocations, development financing, donor agencies, financial guarantees, amongst others.

  Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State, who had already pioneered the setting up of a staple crops processing zone in Alape, Kabba Bunu Local Council area of the state, along with Adesina, briefed correspondents on the food processing bill.

   The governor explained that he had earmarked 15 hectares of land for the project which is expected to provide about 10,000 job opportunities to people of the state.

  Concerning the Great Green Wall Authority Bill, Minister of Environment, Mallam, explained that the projects cover 11 frontline states in the northern part of the country prone to desertification. The states include Borno, Kebbi, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa and Yobe. It will also cover 305 communities across 46 local government councils, she added.

  When passed into law, the draft bill will control further land degradation within the arid region of Nigeria, generate employment, reduce social conflicts, especially between farmers and cattle herdsmen, produce an export agriculture zone and beef up the Nigerian food security drive as well as enhance the capacity of the 

communities comprising of over over 40 million people to improve their resilience to climate change and climate variability that threatens the livelihoods.

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