Senator Adams Oshiomhole, a member of the Senate Committee on Trade, voiced criticism against the Minister for Trade, Industry, and Investments, Doris Uzoka, for proposing a N1 billion foreign trip budget to Geneva, Switzerland, in the 2024 budget. Uzoka defended her budget before the Senate Committee on Trade on December 12, disclosing that N905 million was allocated for overhead costs, and N8.1 billion for capital expenditure.
Expressing concerns during the presentation, Senator Oshiomhole, representing Edo North, urged the minister to leverage in-country expertise to reduce costs. He emphasized the importance of promoting homegrown products and questioned the absence of data on Nigeria’s Balance of Trade.
Oshiomhole stated, “I see that you intend to travel to Geneva next year, and you have budgeted over N1bn for that. We can’t keep going on with over-bloated teams on foreign trips. Use the experts we have in your offices in the country to save costs. Madam, sit in your office and work for Nigerians.”
He urged a focus on industrialization, advocating for self-sufficiency and taking advantage of Nigeria’s population to grow industries. Oshiomhole pointed out the contradiction in advocating for industrialization while importing basic products.
In response, Minister Uzoka defended her budget, stating her ability to work from anywhere and revealing plans to establish a Trade Intelligence Unit for generating and storing trade data. She mentioned ongoing office renovations and acknowledged the absence of a recorded balance of trade, proposing the new unit to address the gap.
However, Oshiomhole disputed her claim, asserting that relevant trade data already exists with agencies like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Customs. The exchange highlighted a difference in perspective on the utilization of resources and data management in promoting trade and industrial growth in Nigeria.