1. The Senate Committee on Trade and Investment has issued an invitation and call for memoranda to relevant stakeholders and the general public to a public hearing on a bill to repeal the NEPZA Act and to establish a Nigeria Industrial Development and Zones Commission (NIDZC/NIDZA) at the National Assembly Complex on Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th December 2016.
2. It is uncertain what mischief this piece of legislation seeks to address because since the establishment of the NEPZA Act in 1992, the Authority has grown from the oversight of an initial few Free Zones to the regulatory oversight of 34 Free Zones and has been touted as a role model amongst Free Zone Regulatory Authorities. NEPZA is a viable institution unfortunately it has been compromised by the incompetence of its leadership.
3. It is quite ironic that while the Onne/Ikpokiri Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Authority (OGEFZA) has been listed as No. 2 on the list of invitees, the Onne/Ikpokiri Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Authority Act No. 8 of 1996 is nowhere on the agenda for discussion at the Public hearing on either the 13th or 14th December.
4. Contrary to Presidential and Council directives, the draft Bill rather than seek to harmonise the functions of both NEPZA and OGEFZA (by repealing both), merely renames NEPZA to NIDZC/A and will further entrench and validate the existence and already questionable activities of OGEFZA which is an INTELS/Orlean Invest RUBBER STAMP.
5. OGEFZA is a single client authority created solely to oversee the operations of INTELS/Orlean Invest in Onne. From inception, OGEFZA continues to overreach its statutory mandate and has solely worked against the interests of the nation in order to entrench the tyrannical interests of the INTELS/Orlean Invest monopoly which is responsible for the increased costs in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
6. Is INTELS/Orlean Invest controlling and directing OGEFZA an agency of the Federal Government? INTELS/Orlean Invest seems to have completely pocketed OGEFZA. Because all the additional areas OGEFZA has illegally designated as “Oil and Gas Free Zones” are all managed exclusively by and for the benefit of INTELS/Orlean Invest controversially expanding the reach of the concessions contrary to the provisions of the OGEFZA Act.
7. The plan to repeal the NEPZA Act alone without also repealing the OGEFZA Act appears to be another attempt to entrench and validate the actions of this CABAL (INTELS/Orlean Invest) to further undermine the Nigerian economy. This violates the principles of free enterprise, freedom of trade and Federal Government’s policy on non-restriction of choice.
8. INTELS/Orlean Invest (reputed and known to be the most expensive logistics provider in the world) stubbornly insists on maintaining its stranglehold on the oil and gas logistics industry. It continues to enforce its monopoly despite the fact that the entire industry is aware of its unjustifiably high operating tariffs. Their plan is to continue to enforce their monopoly over this industry using the statutory weapon of OGEFZA.
9. The Billions invested by INTELS/Orlean Invest in Angola, and other countries is from proceeds taken from the NPA, and Nigeria Oil and Gas industry; God help Nigeria! The Federal Government’s ongoing recovery of funds stolen from Nigeria is incomplete without putting INTELS/Orlean Invest as target number 1, 2 and 3!
10. The entire operations of INTELS/Orlean Invest are a complete camouflage to hide the full extent of their operations from the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS).
11. Successive Governments in Nigeria have compromised by not taking action. Nigeria is now completely broke and Nigerians are hungry and suffering, government can no longer afford to keep looking the other way while selfish, individuals viciously rape our nation’s wealth. From experience these individuals will not relent in their efforts to sustain their monopoly unless and until government makes a firm pronouncement on the following critical issues:
i. The status of the Free Trade Zones and Ports in Nigeria;
ii. INTELS/Orlean Invest status as a business entity in the industry ;
iii. The recurring conflict arising out of the continued existence of a parallel statutory agency in OGEFZA, which merely mimics the functions of NEPZA but exists solely for the benefit of one client – INTELS/Orlean Invest.
12. The National Assembly must do this country proud by doing the right thing for Nigeria, and not compromise the future of our children and all Nigerians. Because of a lack of accountability in Nigeria, people think they can get away with murder! The only home Nigerians have is Nigeria; the National Assembly must make Nigerians proud and deal decisively with this issue. Senate must implement the decision of the Federal Executive Council and repeal both the NEPZA Act No. 63 of 1992 and the OGEFZA Act No. 8 of 1996 and establish one impartial and objective agency for responsible oversight of Free Zones in Nigeria.
13. The Executive, Legislative, Judiciary, Regulatory bodies and Law Enforcement Agencies of government owe the Nigerian people and nation a duty to open their eyes, focus and monitor. They must be vigilant; they can no longer see things going wrong and fail to investigate.
David F. Iworima Esq.
11 Salvation Street,