‘FG should come up with a deliberate policy that would make its big spenders like the INEC and UBEC to be part of the solution to local paper production’
The Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria(CIPPON) has pleaded with the Federal Government to introduce policies that would make it compulsory for the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC, and the Independent National Electoral Commission to stop patronising foreign printing firms.
The National President of CIPPON, Olugbemi Malomo, made the request in Abuja during the Nigerian International Paper and Pulp Summit with the theme, ‘Bridging the gap in local pulp and paper production in Nigeria’, declared open by the Minister of Industry, Trade And Investments, Adeniyi Adebayo.
According to him, the heavy reliance of the Federal Government major spenders, including such as INEC and UBEC, on foreign printers was killing the local printing firms.
He lamented that the country was importing printed material worth over N1 trillion on annual basis, saying it was not good for the nation’s economy.
Malomo said, “A few months from now, we shall be having our general elections. Hundreds of thousand of tons of paper costing the nation billions of naira will be used in the elections. I want you to know that all the papers will be imported.
“If we are going to make meaningful development and move from a consumer nation to a production one, we need a paradigm shift whereby big government spenders like INEC and UBEC should be using our money to develop local production capacity.
“The Federal Government should come up with a deliberate policy that would make its big spenders like the INEC and UBEC to be part of the solution to local paper production.
“With 60 pe rcent of Nigeria’s population in one school or the other, over 1.2 billion books are printed annually in Nigeria. All the paper used are imported into the country.
“Two decades ago, over 400,000 people were employed in the paper supply chain at the inception of the three paper mills established in Nigeria. Today, it has shrinked to less than 50,000.
“The current model of paper importation in a fragile and challenged global supply chain system is no longer sustainable and every player in the value chain must, as a necessity, embrace and begin to prepare for the reality of the need to change to local production of pulp and paper for the competitiveness and survival of our businesses.”
The Minister, however, told stakeholders at the gathering that his Ministry was working on an industrial revolution to revamp the sector in Nigeria.
He lamented that only one out of the three major paper mills in the country was working at 30 per cent installed capacity while the others were moribund.
Adebayo admitted that the current reliance on foreign printing materials and the recycled ones by the nation’s printing firms, was not healthy for the country’s economy.
He said, “In line with the vision of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, a Backward Integration Policy Programme was Initiated in the paper sector.
“It was with the alm of encouraging businesses and farmers to venture Into commercial wood pulp farming while at the same time encouraging intermediate paper and paper product manufacturing companies in the country to key into the process of backward integration with a view to sourcing paper pulp materials locally.
“The results have been promising. What is needed is to develop the right paper-making technology to complement the research findings.
“While we continue to work towards a breakthrough in paper and paper product manufacturing in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment will continue to apply necessary fiscal policy measures to protect and promote the existing paper Industries in the sector in the overall interest of the economy.”