Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology said the Federal Government would support indigenous pencil companies to produce locally, to prevent the country from importation of the product.
It is estimated that over N750 billion is spent on importing pencils into Nigeria annually.
Onu said this when he was reacting to the presentation of Mr Muideen Ibrahim, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, BAMIB Resources and Investment Company Ltd, who paid him a courtesy visit on Monday in Abuja.
He assured his guest that the ministry would assist him to actualise his dream in so many ways, especially by introducing him to other relevant ministries and agencies.
The minister said he was concerned in his first tenure in office when he got a report that, no indigenous company was producing pencil in the country.
“I felt a country like Nigeria should be able to produce pencil to meet its local need and even export so I directed the Project Development Agency (PRODA) to conduct a research on pencil.
“I am happy that PRODA is working hard to deliver, we produce now pencil locally.
“I am also happy that your company has decided to invest in pencil production.
“I will encourage you to continue to do research that will give you better ways to compete anywhere in the world.
“ We will make the findings of research we do here available for you if you can see any information that will make you improve on your production,’’ he said.
Ibrahim, in his presentation on Pencil Project, said he was inspired by the assurance that the minister gave in his first tenure by saying “we will make pencils in Nigeria by 2018.’’
The managing director said he was delighted that the company rolled out its pencils on August 1, 2018 as the first indigenous pencil manufacturing company in Lagos state and second in the country.
He said that the product could compete in the global market because of its unique characteristics, adding that the company had decided to come and present it to the minister.
“Look at it; it does not break like the ones that are imported and it is heavier as well, it can also be customised for organisations and people.
“The production is environmentally friendly because we use old newspaper to produce it, so we are calling on people to give us their old newspapers, we will turn them into wealth,“ he said.
Ibrahim urged the minister to implore Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Government to make available at least, N 500 billion Special Intervention Fund to pencil manufacturers.
“We urge you to make special intervention fund with at least three per cent interest rate available to pencil manufacturers as similar intervention was done in the agricultural sector.
“We appeal to you to give the company a letter of Introduction to the Ministry of Education, Universal Basic Education Commission and State Governments.
“We need to showcase the pencils for them, so that they can buy our pencils and then distribute them to schools.’’