A group, ‘Coalition for Better Nigeria’ has accused both Ministries of Transport, Trade and Investment of aiding and abetting the monopolistic drive of Intels, operator of the Onne Oil and Gas Zone in River State.
In a statement, the group’s Coordinator, Mr. Fubara Ipalibo said that, the move by Intels to be the sole service provider at the Oil and Gas Zone will not only undermine the investment and growth of indigenous competitors, but may further truncate the development agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Ipalibo was particularly irked by the total disregard for the rules and regulations guiding operation at the zone including recommendations by a committee set up by government to further regulate the activities of operators.
He alleged that the Ministry of Trade and Investment has continually refused to implement the directive of government on the operations of Free Trade Zones policy in Nigeria.
The group’s coordinator also noted that the attitude of both ministers are at variance with economic development agenda of the current administration.
His words: “These ministries accompany you (Mr. President) abroad yet act in a deliberate and contradictory manner back home.
“Their only promotion is to Intels whilst other operators are ignored and frustrated.
“This is happening in the highest and broadest of forums and direct speeches by these ministries encouraging only one location and using other agencies to promote the same.
“Nigeria is losing revenue, investment and world class opportunities from Nigerians and international companies by promoting such a monopoly.
Recall that in 2006, in a Presidential policy statement communicated to the ministries by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, it was stated “there should be only one Free Zone Authority to regulate and harmonize the operations of other zones.
“To be known as the Nigeria Free Zones Authority, it will be responsible for policy formulation for, and general supervision of Free Zones in the country (including Oil and Gas Free Zones activities), set general standards of operations and arbitrate disputes between the Free Zones where they occur,” Ipalibo said.
He explained that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in pursuance of circulars dated May 2002 has continued to insist that Oil and Gas cargoes are to be handled only in Onne Port Complex contrary to the clear Presidential directives of May 2006 that importers of Oil and Gas should be free to choose their ports of preference.
Information from Vanguard was used in this report.