N1bn for trip: Stay in your office – Senate slams Trade Minister


The Senate has frowned at the alleged allocation of N1bn for a foreign trip to Geneva, Switzerland, by the Ministry of Trade and Investment.

The Senate Committee on Trade and Industry gave the condemnation on Tuesday when Anite Doris Uzoka, the Minister, came before it in defense of the 2024 budget of the ministry.

Speaking during the session, Senator Adams Oshiomhole (APC – Edo North), said, “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 cost.”

Oshiomhole also complained that the minister, Uzoka, was not always in her office during the period he visited.

He said, “Madam sit in your office and work for Nigerians. I have gone there twice. You are always in the Bank of Industry. If you preferred BoI, you should have declined the President’s nomination to be minister.”

In response, Uzoka said, “I assure you that I can work from anywhere and give Nigerians results. My office is currently under renovation.”

Speaking further, Oshiomhole said, “Let’s practise what we preach. We can’t talk about industrialisation and keep importing toothpicks and tyres. We must ensure that we have homegrown products.

“What is our Balance of Trade, especially with China? Those countries exporting things to Nigeria are expected to build factories in Nigeria. We have to take advantage of our population to grow our industries.”

In her response, the minister said, “Sir, I regret to say that we seem to have no record of our Balance of Trade. Or at least, it doesn’t exist in the ministry and that is why we initiated a new unit called Trade Intelligence Unit to ensure that such data is generated and stored.”

Oshiomhole disagreed with the minister for saying her ministry had no records of the nation’s Balance of Trade.

“No Madam. I don’t agree that there is no data. Such data exists with the CBN, Customs and other agencies,” Oshiomhole said.

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