Nigeria’s Minister of Trade, Industry, and Investment, Doris Nkiruka-Anite, came under fire during a joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Trade, Industry, and Investment budget defence session on Tuesday.

The lawmakers expressed their discontent over the minister’s proposal to allocate a staggering N1 billion for Geneva trips in the 2024 fiscal year.

The proceedings demanded the minister to justify the substantial budget while also providing a detailed account of the 2023 budget’s performance before requesting additional funds.

Senator Adams Oshiomhole, representing Edo North Senatorial District, voiced serious concerns about the exorbitant budget designated for the Geneva trips. He urged the minister to harness the expertise available within the country instead of resorting to expensive foreign visits, emphasizing the imperative of curtailing extravagant spending on foreign travels.

Expressing discontent, Oshiomhole highlighted the minister’s perceived absence from her office, insinuating a preference for the Bank of Industry over fulfilling her ministerial responsibilities effectively.

“Madam, sit in your office and work for Nigerians. I have gone there twice. You are always in the BOI. If you preferred BOI, you should have declined the President’s nomination to be minister,” Oshiomhole remarked.

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He emphasized the necessity to practice what is preached, particularly in the context of industrialization and reducing the nation’s reliance on imports.

Oshiomhole stressed the importance of leveraging Nigeria’s population to bolster domestic industries.

In response, Ms Nkiruka-Anite defended her capabilities, asserting, “I assure you that I can work from anywhere and deliver results for Nigerians.”

However, Oshiomhole persisted, alleging that data regarding the nation’s balance of trade existed within entities like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), and other agencies, which the ministry failed to access.

Despite the minister’s acknowledgment of the absence of such data within the ministry, she told the lawmakers of intentions of the ministry to initiate a new unit, the Trade Intelligence Unit, aimed at generating and storing such critical information.