By Abiemwense Moru
Abuja – The House of Representatives on Tuesday, resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to probe all licences granted for fish importation within the last one year in the country.
This followed a motion moved under matters of urgent national importance by Rep. Jonathan Gaza (PDP-Nasarawa), who called for an investigation into the recent issuance of licences for fish importation in Nigeria.
Gaza, moving the motion, explained that in the last few years, Nigeria had gone through recession and had recovered largely due to diversification of the nation’s economy, especially by promoting agriculture.
He said that fishery was an important subsector of Nigeria’s agriculture with the abundant rivers (Benue, Niger, Ogun, Osun) and lakes like Kainji and other dams and ponds.
According to the Representative, fishery has also attracted an increase in the number of fish farmers using latest technology which has led to an increase in fish production and employment.
Gaza recalled that in the past, the Minister of State for Agriculture held a meeting with the ljebu Initiative on Poverty Reduction (IDIPR) in Abuja sometime in Aug. 2017.
The lawmaker said that the minister, during the meeting, stated that the Federal Government will stop issuing fish importation quota to importers saying the venture was no longer sustainable.
He said that calls have been made by various quarters, including the hallowed chambers, to ban the importation of fish into the country as it had a negative effect on the nation’s economy.
Gaza also said that one could not ascertain the total health status of all the fish imported into this country all the time.
He expressed worry that even with pronouncements by the Federal Government to ban fish importation to encourage local farmers to support Federal Government’s diversification policy, licenses were still given to importers.
According to him, these importers have turned Nigeria into a dumping ground for all manner of fish.
Gaza said that if this continued, the gains that had been recorded by our local fish farmers and jobs created will be lost.
“Fish importation is not sustainable and if the Federal Government does not urgently look into the matter and rescind its policy on the issuance of licences for fish importation.
“It will continue to bring about backward integration in the nation with people not being able to set up fish farms or employ people and create jobs,” he said.
Contributing to the motion, the Deputy Speaker, Mr Lasun Yussuff, said that it was imperative for Nigeria to be able to export the nation’s agricultural produce in order to generate foreign exchange.
According to him, government policies should be directed towards this and encourage local food production.
Also in his contribution, Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas (APC-Adamawa), said that issuing of licences for fish importation should be reduced to increase local production.
“As we did on the issue of rice by encouraging local production, we should also reduce issuing of licence to increase local production.”
The motion was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
The House therefore, requested the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the bank of Agriculture to provide incentives to local fish farmers that would boost production.
It mandated that an ad-committee be set up to conclude the assignment within two weeks and report back to it for further legislative actions. (NAN)