Sit in your office and work for Nigerians, Oshiomhole slams minister over N1b Switzerland trip budget
Senator Adams Oshiomole, who is a member of the Senate Committee on Trade, has lambasted the Minister for Trade, Industry and Investments, Doris Uzoka, for proposing N1 billion in the 2024 budget for a foreign trip to Geneva, Switzerland.
The former governor of Edo State tackled the Minister over the budgetary proposal when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Trade on Tuesday, December 12, to defend her budget.
During her presentation, the minister told the joint committee that N905 million was earmarked for overhead costs while N8.1 billion was allocated to capital expenditure.
While reacting to her presentation, Oshiomhole, Senator representing Edo North, urged the minister to utilise in-country expertise to cut costs, emphasising the need for homegrown products and questioning the lack of data on Nigeria’s Balance of Trade.
“I see that you intend to travel to Geneva next year and you have budgeted over N1bn for that. We can’t keep going on with over-bloated teams on foreign trips. Use the experts we have in your offices in the country to save costs. Madam sit in your office and work for Nigerians. I have gone there twice. You are always in the Bank of Industry. If you preferred BoI, you should have declined the President’s nomination to be a minister. Let’s practise what we preach. We can’t talk about industrialisation and keep importing toothpicks and tyres. We must ensure that we have homegrown products.
“What is our balance of trade, especially with China? Those countries exporting things to Nigeria are expected to build factories in Nigeria. We have to take advantage of our population to grow our industries?”
Responding to Oshiomole’s objection, Uzoka stated that she could work from anywhere and revealed plans to establish a Trade Intelligence Unit for generating and storing trade data.
“I assure you that I can work from anywhere and give Nigerians results. My office is currently under renovation. Sir, I regret to say that we seem to have no record of our balance of trade. Or at least, it doesn’t exist in the ministry and that is why we initiated a new unit called Trade Intelligence Unit to ensure that such data is generated and stored.”
Oshiomhole disagreed with the minister for saying her ministry had no records of the nation’s Balance of Trade.
“No Madam. I don’t agree that there is no data. Such data exist with the CBN, Customs and other agencies,” Oshiomhole said.