Ten months after President Goodluck Jonathan approved the takeover of the Nigerian Trade Centre in Dubai by the Ministry of Trade and Investments, the centre still remains inactive.
LEADERSHIP findings reveal that though the presidency had, in a letter dated May 16, 2012, approved the takeover, the ministry's inaction was costing the former owners huge sums of money running into several millions of naira as they have continued to pay to secure the office space, among others, pending the takeover.
The centre was initially proposed as a public-private partnership (PPP) between the federal government and the Nigerian-UAE Chamber of Commerce.
However, the ministry had recommended that the centre be transferred to it in line with its plan to establish a trade and investment office in Dubai to oversee the Middle East region.
In a letter to the president dated May 9, 2010, entitled "Public Private Partnership Proposal: Nigerian Trade and Investment Centres", the director-general of the Nigeria Trade Centre, Dubai, Mr Mohammed Aliyu Baiwa, had requested the FG to partner with it on the operations of the trade centre which it had already set up in Dubai.
The presidency, however, forwarded the request to the Ministry of Trade and Investment for their recommendations.
In a response, a letter from the presidency to the then Ministry of Commerce and Industry signed by chief of staff to the president Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, dated June 2, 2010, entitled "Re: Public Private Partnership Proposal: Nigerian Trade and Investment Centres" read: "I write with respect to a letter dated 09 May 2010, to His Excellency Mr President, from Mr Mohammed Aliyu Baiwa, Director General, Nigeria Trade Center, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, regarding the above-mentioned subject matter. I should be grateful if you would kindly treat as deemed appropriate."
The current minister of trade and investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga, in response to the presidency's letter wrote, "I write to refer to your letter Ref. No. SH/COS/07/A/1159 dated 4th July, 2011 on the above subject matter and to forward my comments on the attached document received from the Nigerian Trade Centre, Dubai, as requested."
The letter dated April 3, 2012, read in part: "It will be appropriate to transfer the Trade and Investment Centre in Dubai to the Ministry in line with its plan to establish Trade and Investment Desk in that city to take care of the Middle East region.
The current Nigeria Trade and Investment Centre in Dubai would therefore serve as a platform for the establishment of Trade and Investment desk within the region.
"For effective coordination of the Trade and Investment desks,there is a plan for the establishment of Regional Trade Offices (RTO) in Pretoria, South Africa; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Dakar, Senegal; Cairo, Egypt; New Delhi, India; Perth, Australia; Berlin, Germany; and Brasilia, Brazil."
In the same vein, the RTO Shangai is to oversee the desks in Asia; RTO Berlin to oversee the Trade and Investment desks in Europe; RTO Pretoria, Cairo, Rwanda and Senegal to oversee the desks in Southern, Eastern, Central and West Africa; RTO Dubai will oversee the Middle East; and RTO Brasilia to oversee the entire South America," Aganga had said.