Nigeria SEZ Investment Company [NSEZCO] which was at the centre of a storm before a Senate committee last week is not a privately-owned company but was created as a special purpose public-private partnership [PPP] vehicle for implementing Project MINE, the Federal Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment said in a statement yesterday.
It said the Federal Government represented by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated [MOFI] holds 25% shares of NSEZCO while 75% shares are held in trust by A&O Secretarial Services for development finance partners that are completing their internal investment approval processes.
These partners are Africa Export-Import Bank, Bank of Industry [BOI], Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority [NSIA], Africa Finance Corporation [AFC] and African Development Bank, AfDB.
According to the ministry, various stories in the media about Project MINE [Made In Nigeria for Export] contained inaccuracies and misrepresentations. Project MINE, it said, is meant to develop world class Special Economic Zones [SEZs] that will boost manufacturing of Made in Nigeria goods for export. It is meant to increase manufacturing sector’s GDP contribution to 20%, create 1.5m new jobs and generate $30bn foreign exchange annually all by 2025, according to the statement.
According to the ministry, early stage projects in the first phase of NSEZCO’s operations include Enyimba Economic City in Abia State, Lekki-Epe Model Industrial Park in Lagos State and Funtua Cotton Cluster in Katsina State. It said the latter will “aggregate cotton grown by 800,000 farmers in Northern Nigeria into a world class vertically integrated ginning, spinning, weaving and garment making cluster.” The ministry further said the Attorney General of the Federation had advised, upon inquiry, that Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority [NEPZA] is not the implementing agency of Project MINE and the project is not under it. NSEZCO, he also advised, will not take over NEPZA’s functions and also that transfer of Project MINE funds from NEPZA to NSEZCO is lawful.
The furore started last week when chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Industry and Investment Sabo Mohammed said during budget defence that the ministry illegally voted N42bn to NSEZCO in its 2019 budget proposals when the latter is not a parastatal under the ministry.