By Milcah Tanimu
The Minister of Trade, Industry, and Investment, Doris Nkiruka-Anite Uzoka, faced criticism during her defense of the ministry’s 2024 Budget before the Senate Committee on Trade. It was revealed that a substantial sum of N1 billion was allocated for a trip to Geneva, leading senators to express discontent over the budgetary provisions.
Senators, including former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, deemed the budget estimate excessive and a waste of public funds. Oshiomhole specifically criticized the minister for planning the Geneva trip and urged her to utilize the experts in her offices within the country to save costs. He also accused her of spending excessive time at the Bank of Industry, emphasizing the need for her to work from her office.
The former governor questioned the minister about Nigeria’s balance of trade, particularly with China, and emphasized the importance of leveraging the country’s population to attract foreign industries. In response, the minister admitted that the ministry lacked records of the balance of trade with other nations but mentioned the initiation of a new unit called the Trade Intelligence Unit to address data generation and storage.
Oshiomhole disagreed with her, asserting that such data exists with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Customs, and other agencies, which the Ministry has failed to access. The criticism centered on the perceived lack of transparency and the substantial budget allocation for the Geneva trip.