The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service and the Nigeria Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, both agencies of the Federal Government, have agreed to collaborate in areas of trade facilitation and to safeguard Nigeria’s agricultural economy and exports.
Partners in the deal announced this on Sunday in Abuja, stating that the development was a sequel to a high-level meeting between the acting Comptroller-General, NAQS, Dr Godwin Audu, and the Managing Director, OGFZA, Bamanga Jada.
During the meeting, Audu said the NAQS was committed to promoting trade and protecting Nigeria’s agricultural economy while upholding global phytosanitary standards, according to a statement from the agency.
He said the NAQS was “ready to support exporters in meeting these standards, facilitating a seamless process for those who adhere to regulatory requirements.”
Audu said, “In our pursuit of economic growth and agricultural prosperity, NAQS remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting trade while ensuring the integrity of our agricultural sector.
“We understand the importance of facilitating exports and imports, and we are committed to providing exporters and importers with the necessary guidance and support to navigate regulatory processes effectively.”
Audu also highlighted NAQS’ willingness to work closely with OGFZA, offering guidance and information on export and import procedures, adding that exporters were required to pay the user fee as a token for the services NAQS renders.
He expressed gratitude for the donation of office space to NAQS at Onne Seaport within the OGFZA complex in Port Harcourt, stressing that it was a demonstration of OGFZA’s commitment to supporting his agency’s operations.
On his part, Jada emphasised the need for collaboration between NAQS and OGFZA to protect Nigeria’s agricultural economy.
He commended NAQS for its commitment to promoting trade while maintaining stringent standards, stressing the importance of a harmonious relationship between the two regulatory agencies.
In a related development, the NAQS announced that an operations and enforcement department had been established in the agency to minimise unnecessary takeovers and judiciously enforce seizures in the agro-industry.
NAQS, according to its Establishment Act 2017, was established for the purposes of preventing the entry, establishment and spread of foreign pests and diseases of plant, animal and aquatic resources and products into the country.
The agency is to also promote sanitary and phytosanitary measures as it relates to the import and export of agricultural products, with a view to minimising the risk to agriculture, food safety and the environment.
Audu announced the creation of an enforcement department in the agency in a statement issued in Abuja by an official of the agency’s Media Communications and Strategies department, Akanji Joshua.
The statement read in part, “He (Audu) announced the establishment of the Operations and Enforcement Department within the agency, which will oversee seamless operations, minimise unnecessary seizures and enforce seizures judiciously.”
It stated that Audu assured all stakeholders that the agency remained dedicated to promoting ease of doing business and facilitating trade in line with the Federal Government’s agenda for the country’s benefit.
The NAQS boss also carried out placements for over 100 officers of the agency, as they were promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Quarantine I, which according to the service, was part of efforts to boost the morale of workers.
The agency stated that the promotion was long overdue, adding that the officers had all been confirmed.
Audu stated that henceforth, human capital development would be a priority and called on the staff to rededicate themselves to the task of repositioning the agency to better serve its diverse stakeholders.
He said adherence to the Act establishing the agency and also being conversant with international standards would go a long way in promoting the ease of doing business.
He reminded the staff of his administration’s open door policy which would give room for innovative ideas and would contribute to growing the agency.
He further stated that efforts were being made to adhere to the European Union requirements for exportation of products, adding that the development would no doubt avert imminent rejection of Nigeria’s products to EU countries.
The NAQS boss promised to look into the challenge from different zones on the state of infrastructure and operational tools for employees in order to ease their working conditions.
Audu stressed the importance of fostering stronger relationships with sister bodies and stakeholders, and urged zonal and station coordinators to follow suit, emphasising his belief in unity.