Uneasy calm in Agric Ministry over abuse of fish import allocation


Akinwumi Adesina

There is an uneasy quiet in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture over what sources in the ministry attributed to the high-handedness of the Acting Director of Fisheries in the ministry, Foluke Areola, The Eagle Online reports.
It was gathered that there had been some protests amongst high ranking officials of the ministry over the sudden elevation of Areola as the acting Director of Fisheries, against the regulations of appointments and promotions in the civil service.
It was also gathered that part of the issues causing stir in the ministry is the controversy over the alleged abuse of regulations in allotting fish importation quota to fishing companies in the country.
Sources say that Areola had recently implemented an indigenization policy in the allocation of these quotas, citing authorization from the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina.
But, the minister, at a meeting held on December 8, 2014, denied ever issuing authorization for the implementation of the indigenization policy.
A source in the ministry said: “The Director of Fisheries imposed fish import quota allocations which is neither backed by any legislation nor extant regulations; whilst receiving bribe from her friends and those in the industry willing to pay for fish import quotas and those that paid her even – with no cold rooms and other infrastructural facilities.
“She single handedly issued quotas over 600,000 MT to such companies. With this, she started a policy of discriminating against the multinational operators in the industry, claiming the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, told her to use the inexplicable self-made indigenization decree to the Fisheries Sector.
“As a result of this, she refused to issue the vessel licence (Distant Water fishing licence – category c) for companies to discharge the fish that they were issued quota for to bring into the country; this has resulted into untold hardships for consumers, as prices of stock fish rose astronomically, making fish (an essential protein) out of the reach of the common man.”
Our source however said that Adesina has stepped into the situation by issuing supplementary quota to established importers, with considerable investments in cold storage facilities and well-established supply chains across the country.
At a meeting held in Abuja recently, Adesina stressed that government’s action was geared towards preventing a distortion in the market.
Efforts to obtain reaction to the developments and others proved abortive as no one was willing to comment, even off the record.

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