Reps ask FG to halt alleged importation of genetically modified maize

…As PDP criticizes FG’s $5.5bn loan bid***

The House of Representatives, yesterday, mandated its Committees on Agricultural Production and Services, Customs and Excise to investigate the circumstances that led to the importation of genetically modified maize without clearance from the National Biosafety Management Agency.

It asked the Federal Government to also stop the alleged importation of  modified maize into Nigeria, pending the conclusion of the investigation. House of Representatives The call followed a motion, entitled, “Need to investigate the alleged importation of genetically modified maize into Nigeria,” co-sponsored by Kingsley Obinna Onwubuariri (Imo State) and Munir Babba Dan Agundi (Kano State).

The motion called on the House to note that “the agricultural revolution of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is geared towards ensuring sufficiency in food production and Nigerians have heeded the call and have gone back to the farms, the result of which was an impressive harvest in maize, which forced the price down.”

It also stated that the House was “aware of recent reports in The Sun and Nigeria Today newspapers of September 8, 2017, calling on the Federal Government to probe the Nigeria Customs Service and other agencies at the seaport over an alleged importation of seven ship-loads of maize by Olam Group.

“Also aware that following recent information by scientists and researchers, more than half of the countries of the European Union, including Germany, France, Scotland, Italy, Austria, Greece, Poland and Belgium have either completely banned or placed severe restrictions on consumption of genetically modified products in their respective countries; “Informed that Olam Group imported the maize partly to feed its newly built feed mill factory in Kaduna rather than patronizing local farmers.”

Some members who spoke in favour of the motion, expressed concern on the health implications of the product. The committees were eventually asked to recommend appropriate measures to protect the nation from importation of such products in future, and report back within eight weeks for further legislative action.

In the meantime, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed concern over the plan by the Federal government to obtain 5.5 billion dollars foreign loan.

The party in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja by National Publicity Secretary of its National Caretaker Committee, Mr Dayo Adeyeye, said the proposed borrowing was needless.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday written to the National Assembly requesting the approval of the loan.

PDP said that the loan if approved by the National Assembly, would plunge Nigeria into further debt, and consciously mortgage the future of the unborn generations of the country.

It added that it was an attempt to push the nation into more debt that would affect the future negatively.

It noted that as a party that governed Nigeria “meritoriously for 16 years and handed over a buoyant economy to the APC in 2015’’, it was worried about the development.

“We are dismayed at the rate at which the APC government is plunging the nation into debt through local and foreign borrowing.

“The figure released recently by the Debt Management Office (DMO) stating that the nation under the administration of the APC government in the last two years has borrowed N7.51 trillion is mind-boggling.

“As major stakeholders in the Nigerian project, we are worried,” it said.

The party urged the National Assembly to stop “this latest demand for foreign loan”.

Additional report from Vanguard