By Kevin Okunzuwa
Okomu – The managing Director of Okomu oil palm company Plc., Dr Graham Hefer, says the influx of banned adulterated Crude Palm Oil(CPO) and Ole into the Nigerian market is adversely affecting indigenous companies, with colossal revenue loss to government.
Hefer said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Okomu, Ovia South West Local Government Area of Edo, on the sidelines of the company’s health, safety and environment awareness week.
He lamented that the influx of banned CPO and Ole into the Nigerian markets was not healthy for both indigenous companies and the nation’s economy.
” We are very disappointed to observe in the last four months that there’s been lots of adulterated illegal importation of crude palm oil and Ole into Nigerian markets.
” We can see Ole freely available in super markets in Nigeria where it is blatantly stated that it is made in Malaysia or Indonesia.
“These are banned products not permitted into the country at all. If you look at CPO and look at the Malaysia palm oil board, the statistics in the first quarter of this year, shows that about 103,000 tons of CPO was imported into Nigeria.
” This is as much as four times the same period in 2018.
” We are now trying to ask Customs to see where the oil landed from or if Customs actually get duties or followed due process.
” If you look at the volume of oil sold by Malaysia to Benin Republic, Ghana and Ivory coast, you will see that for instance in Benin Republic, there are more palm trees per square metre than there are people.
” If you do your calculations, it’s obvious that we are under extreme stress,” he said.
According to him , it is not just Okomu company, but about the whole palm oil pipeline stream right down to the end user; everybody is affected negatively.
“We are begging the Nigerian government once again to take cognisance of this; NAFDAC should do something quick about this situation.
” NAFDAC should do the needful about any banned product found in shops.
“The customs should also quickly act and address this anomaly because it’s affecting our businesses,
” This is especially when government is asking us to expand, to assist and help us to become self reliant in palm oil.
“We can’t achieve this because we can’t compete in subsidised oil palm and Ole that come in from countries that do not work with the world price,”, he said.
He explained that the implication on the economy was colossal, saying ” the country is losing duties from lost taxes government should have used for development.”
Heifer also spoke on the likely health implication these products would have on Nigerian consumers, saying ” we surely do not know if these products are good enough for the health of Nigerians.
” And we feel these are people working on the system for their selfish interest to the detriment of Nigeria as a whole.”
He however, disclosed that ” we are in the process of squarely addressing this.”
” A couple of weeks ago a group spoke out against the dwindling fortunes of NIgerian companies that are gradually closing down because there is no longer the ability to cope as a result of this illegal importation of these products into Nigerian markets.
” In a couple of weeks from now, we plan to visit various government agencies under the umbrella body of plantation owners forum of Nigeria to meet with these stakeholders to see that this type of situation does not happen again,” he said.
He, however, noted that Okomu as a company had not experienced losses from this situation but added that ” there is a significant drop in our profits and this reflects in our performance in our first quarter as Okomu.”
” This also applies to allied companies and we hope that things will improve. But this is not likely because there were lots of importation of these banned products in the first quarter, ” he said.