Chris Steven, Abuja
Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki on Thursday threatened that the Senate will take up the case against any ministry, department or agency of government that is violating the Public Procurement law which compels them to give preference to locally produced goods in Nigeria.
He also charged Senate Committee Chairmen to ensure in the course of their oversight duties that MDAs comply with the provision of the law on patronage of local manufacturers as he also urged all military and para-military agencies to emulate the Army by procuring items like booths and other needs locally.
Senator Saraki spoke in Abuja when members of the Leather and Allied Products Manufacturers Association of Abia State (LEAPMAAS) visited him to express appreciation for the constant support he and the Senate have given to the Buy Made in Nigeria campaign.
While responding to the welcome address by the co-ordinator of the Association, Chief Ben Hart, Saraki said the government spends more than N2 Trillion annually in the purchase of goods, and that the aim of the Senate is to ensure that a large chunk of the funds go into the pocket of Nigerian manufacturers.
He advised local manufacturers to petition the Senate where they feel a government agency is deliberating denying them the opportunity to sell their goods as he said the law making institution was ready to take up such cases.
“I commend you for your determination and creativity. When I came for your trade fair in Abuja earlier in the year, I promised you that with the support of my colleagues here in the Senate, we will make the campaign to buy Made in Nigeria go beyond a trade fair and become a national agenda for all Nigerians. Today, we have made it a national project. I also promised you that we will amend the existing law to give your efforts a solid legal backing that will ensure patronage for your products and that of other local manufacturers. That has also been done with the amendment of the Public Procurement Act.
“I have a promise from the House of Representatives that they will soon pass the same law. Government agencies must necessarily and compulsorily patronise locally made goods. It has started with order made for booths by the Army. If the Army are doing that, I also challenge all the other agencies to follow suit. I challenge all the Senate committee chairmen here to ensure that all the other agencies, whether it is Air force, Navy, Customs, even the Road Safety, Civil Defence, NYSC must follow suit. We should include that as part of the conditions when they come to defend their 2017 budget. They must show evidence that they patronise and purchase locally made goods.
“I commend your persistence such that over the years you have been there, giving your support to the growth of the economy government. With little or no assistance, you continued to demonstrate that you have the capacity to produce different high quality goods for the use of Nigerians.
“This is a very big agenda that we are promoting. I want to thank my colleagues and let me remind you that we have kept our promises, so you should not disappoint us. You must improve on the quality of the goods. You must deliver the orders made on time as agreed with clients. If you look at the budget of all these agencies, it is enough for you to increase your production and that will make Nigeria to take over the market in some of the West African region.
“On our own part, this is an agenda we believe in, we will continue to support you”, the Senate President re-assured the Aba based manufacturers while adding that one of the major panacea for the present economic recession in the country is to encourage locally manufactured goods to save foreign exchange, generate employment and increase the nation’s gross domestic product.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Hart said that they were at the National Assembly to commend the Senate President, the Senator representing Abia South, Enyinnaya Abaribe and other Senators for their support in promoting the Made in Aba goods.
He said, “we are here to express our gratitude for your support and show appreciation on this Made in Nigeria Project. Today, we confer on you the title of the Ambassador of Made in Aba goods. We also commend Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and the entire Senate for supporting the passage of the amendment to the Public Procurement Act. By this singular action, you and the Senate have institutionalized the Buy Made in Nigeria campaign.
“We commend you for your tireless propagation and advocacy for Made in Aba goods. We use this opportunity to assure you and the Senate that we shall continue to improve on the quality of Made in Aba and indeed Made in Nigeria goods. Goods produced in Aba are indeed of high quality. There is nothing that can be manufactured elsewhere which cannot be produced in Aba.