ON February 1, 2021 the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, announced with a flourish the Federal Government’s approval of the National Quality Policy, NQP, which is primarily meant to stop the rejection of Nigerian exports to foreign countries.
Much as this measure is welcome in that it will help in solving a major impediment to our efforts to diversify our means of earning foreign exchange from dependence on crude oil sales, it is seriously bemusing that a country that gained its independence over 60 years ago and once depended on produce exports for its survival is only just now realizing the need to create an NQP to promote its exports.
This simply underlines the decades of neglect of our non-oil export sector. In September 2019, Williams Eze, the Director of Business Development of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council, NIPC, disclosed that 30 percent of Nigerian exports were rejected due to poor branding, labeling, and packaging. Nigeria accounts for over 60 percent of the world’s yam production but due to a lack of quality control issues, she is struggling to break the surface as a major yam exporter.
In April 2017, the immediate past Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, had lamented: “Some consignments of yams were exported from Nigeria to the United States and according to reports we have today, they were found to be of poor quality”.
The Minister had vowed to investigate both the companies that exported the yams and the Agriculture Ministry’s Quarantine Department to find out “how such a consignment left here”.
It is not as though no governmental mechanism exists at all to ensure that Nigerian exports undergo appropriate quality control measures. Indeed, nine Federal agencies and departments are charged with this responsibility.
These are the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA; Nigerian Customs Service, NCS; Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN; the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC; and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON.
Others are the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NPEC; Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services, NAQS; the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; and the National Agricultural Seed Council, NASC.
In Nigeria, the adage that “a goat owned by many people dies of hunger” is so true. Inter-agency synergy is lacking. This much is obvious even among our security agencies.
The bureaucracy is full of indolent, unpatriotic, corrupt and incompetent workers, and the political leadership is only interested in the power and corrupt enrichment their offices afford them. Few officials are interested in the supervision and follow-ups that produce effective governance.
We suggest that for the NQP to work, one agency should be handed the core assignment with others represented for their specialised inputs.