INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT: WE IMPORT ALMOST EVERYTHING SAYS ONAWO
NASCARD: Let's meet you sir?
HON. MOHAMMED OGOSHI ONAWO: My name is HON. MOHAMMED OGESHI ONAWO, member representing Awe/Doma/Keana Federal Constituency from Nasarawa State and my party is PDP.
NASCARD: How would you score the leadership of the House in the Constitution of various Committees?
HON. MOHAMMED OGOSHI ONAWO: I think I would score the leadership of the House very high; this is because of the transparent manner they came up with the selection. If it were not for the transparent manner, someone like me, a first timer in the House of Representatives wouldn't have been a Chairman of the House Committee on industries today. They made sure that every State was represented on the selection committee and each of The members was allowed to relate with members of his State to brief them on a daily basis at every time a meeting is held to share with them what was done at the selection Committee and virtually almost everybody selected the Committee they wanted to serve. When the speaker was elected, about 277 members voted for him. If he said he wanted to give everybody Chairmanship and Deputy Chairmanship, the Committees are not going to be enough because we just have 89 Committees and I think they have tried to look at people's competence, professions, backgrounds etc, and if they continue with this transparency, this House will be the best.
NASCARD: As Chairman House of Committee on industries, have you been able to understand and articulate the problems of the industrial sector?
HON. MOHAMMED OGOSHI ONAWO: The Committees have just been set up and I am happy that I was made Chairman of the Committee because I spent the whole of my working life in the industries and so I can appreciate the problems more. But the problem is; why is it that every industries that have started in Nigeria hardly lives beyond 5 years? We have to come together to find a solution to this. I intend to have a stakeholders meeting so that we can find a solution to this. In the transformation agenda of the Federal Government, in the new legislative agenda that the House is trying to pursue, we have to find a solution to this because apart from oil, the industrial sector is supposed to be the highest employer of labor, there are no industries so how do you employ?
NASCARD: How would you review Nigeria's trade policy and access the industrial problem against the backdrop of the protocols that we have signed as it relates to the world trade organization (W.T.O).
HON. MOHAMMED ONAWO: Yes, we have signed this protocols and it is not just we alone. In assessing the situation, we have to look at where we are comparatively advantageous and we have to look at our downside and see how we can best do this. Do we sign agreement to the detriment of our people and economy? No, there has to be a change and that is why I am very happy with the leadership of the House for the transformational program they have agreed to embark on. The new legislative agenda will help us guide a lot of things. As you can see, we have not had of the inaugural meeting of the committee. We are going to sit down and bring our experiences to bear on this so that we can make better decisions.
NASCARD: What do you think about the issue of the fuel subsidy as proposed by the Federal Government?
HON. MOHAMMED OGOSHI ONAWO: It is regrettably a very bad political decision. Anybody who has advised Mr. President to embark on that decision now, I think does not mean well for the nation. Before you think of removing subsidy, you have to put a substitute in place. We are saying that the level of unemployment is high and you are thinking of removing subsidy to put people in more problem, let us think of the multiplier effect and that every other thing is going to be affected; the common man would no longer buy food. If they are thinking of powering the economy, in the last 5 or 6years, more than 26 billion dollars have been spent in trying to solve the Nigerian power problem, where is the power and the money? How are we sure that the monies gotten from the subsidies would not go the same way? Therefore, let us not put the cart before the horse, let Government create employment and empower people; put the necessary infrastructures in place so that the common man can be happy.
NASCARD: Government cannot create jobs but can create the enabling environment and the capital is tied to the subsidy. How can they do this if they don't take the capital from the subsidy?
HON. MOHAMMED OGOSHI ONAWO: Is it normal for a country that is rated the 6th largest producer of oil in the world to be the way we are? Where has all the monies being realized gone to? Can the Government be sincere to tell the people the amount of oil being produced today in the country? We have several shipping lines and how many of these shipping lines are carrying the Nigerian oil outside the shore? So if the subsidy is removed and we don't feel the impact negatively then now is the time. Is it normal for NNPC to owe FG 45 billion Naira when they are selling crude everyday?
NASCARD: This is our end game and if we don't do anything, we are going to pay for it now not even tomorrow.
HON. MOHAMMED OGOSHI ONAWO: The end game is not by removal of subsidy. The end game is to try and plug all the necessary loopholes that they know about, it is like a custom officer coming to the border town today and say he does not know who the smugglers are in the town, let us do the obvious which is my concern.