Nigeria’s Economic Diversification Is On Course, Says Buhari

Economic Diversification Policies Are On The Right Path, Says Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the policies of his administration towards improving Nigeria’s economy through diversification are on the right path.

The President stated this on Thursday in his address during the official commissioning ceremony of the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate (SGSE) in Niger State.

He said the Federal Government remains committed to delivering on the policy goals of tackling corruption and improving the security of lives and property in the country.

READ ALSOPresident Buhari’s Visit To Niger State In Pictures

President Buhari gave the assurance that his administration would provide necessary support for businesses to strengthen investments in critical sectors such as agriculture, power, and solid minerals among others.

Restating his resolve to transform the economy, he said the government would continue to create an enabling business environment for investors.

The President further recalled that he had inaugurated the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in July 2016, with the aim of improving the business environment in the country.

He said his administration would give more attention to major infrastructure including roads and rail construction as well as and power generation.

The event was also attended by the Niger State Governor, Mr Abubakar Bello, and the Chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc (FMN), Mr John Coumantaros.

The construction of the sugar estate costs more than N50billion naira, and it has the capacity to produce 100,000 metric tons of sugar annually.

 

Read President Buhari’s full speech below:

I am very pleased to be here today to formally commission the Sunti Golden Sugar Estates.

This project could not have come at a better time. As Nigeria makes her journey out of recession and the economy continues to show considerable progress, we are reminded of one of the cardinal objectives of this administration which is to look inwards as we focus on our natural endowments in agriculture, and other non-oil sectors for inclusive growth and development.

The level of work and magnitude of investment that we are witnessing here today is a clear demonstration that our policies on economic diversification are on the right path. On that note, I must congratulate the entire members of board, the management and staff of this great company for such a laudable project that will undoubtedly reposition Nigeria as a leading player in the global food market.

I trust that you will agree with me that Flour Mills of Nigeria, has an unmistakable footprint in the history of our Nation. Since her establishment in 1960, Flour Mills and their Golden Penny food brand have become household names, bringing good food and nourishment to millions of Nigerian families. For over 57 years, the company has repeatedly shown her unwavering commitment to doing business in Nigeria and contributing to the socio-economic development of our dear country.

The Sunti Golden Sugar Estate as I am told was built at a cost of over fifty billion naira, making it one of the largest Agro-allied investments in Nigeria, today, with a capacity to produce 100,000 metric tons of sugar annually. While we have had some challenges in the implementation of the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) in the past, I believe that our vision of attaining self-sufficiency in sugar in Nigeria is well within sight with the kind of investment that has been made here. I am told that the Estate will engage up to 10,000 people directly once developed, including a network of over 3,000 small-scale out growers of Sugarcane. This to my mind is central to this administration’s determination to create jobs and gainfully engage our people.

I am happy to mention also, that projects like the Sunti Sugar Estate are in tandem with the vision and objectives that we set out to achieve when this administration instituted the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). While, our focus is steadfast on delivering on our policy goals of tackling corruption, improving security and rebuilding the economy; more than ever, Government will work in close partnership with businesses to strengthen investments in Agriculture, Power, Manufacturing, Solid Minerals, and the Service sectors.

It is worth mentioning at this point that the location of the Sunti Sugar Estates on the banks of the River Niger is as notable as it is commendable. The enormous economic possibilities inherent here have perhaps been overlooked for far too long. It is indeed on record that the Niger River Basin has played an essential role in the lives of the people who have had to depend on it for sustenance. And when we take into cognisance the tributaries of the river and the proximity to the Kainji dam, I must say that it is time that we take a closer look at the full spectrum of the River Niger’s ecosystem and explore how this massive body of resources can be converted to a hub for industry and commerce. To that end, I hereby call on other businesses and investors to take a cue from what we are witnessing today.

To ensure that we do not lose momentum in our strategic roadmap of developing the Sugar sub-sector, and achieving the target of attaining self-sufficiency in Sugar, it is perhaps time to revive also our sugar industries of old – this, of course, brings to mind the once flourishing sugar industry in Bacita, Kwara state which was established in 1964. This administration will welcome the opportunity to work with investors like Flour Mills to restore the glory of what was once a reputable industrial hub for sugar and pride for Nigeria.

At this juncture, I would like to assure Nigerians, that this administration is fully committed to the transformation and diversification of the economy. We will continue to support businesses by creating an enabling business environment. As you would recall, I inaugurated the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in July 2016, to spearhead business climate reforms and improve the general business environment in Nigeria.

During my presentation of the 2018 budget to the National Assembly, I mentioned that one of the targets we set out for gauging our progress in creating an enabling environment for business was to achieve a positive movement in the World Ease of Doing Business Index.

I am delighted to mention that, a recently released World Bank business ranking report announced that Nigeria had moved 24 places to 145th position in 2017, and for the first time recognised as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world; a clear indication that we are making remarkable progress in this regard.

In May 2017, this administration institutionalised an executive order #1 on the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment as part of reforms to encourage private sector participation and attracting new investments. The order contained measures that ease the process of business registration, approval of permits, granting visas and streamlining port operations.

I wish to assure Nigerians, that this government will continue to focus on the improvement of critical infrastructure, like roads, construction of rails and power generation across the country.

Furthermore, we have also developed Road Trust Fund (RTF) that empowers private investors to contribute to the development of roads of significant national importance. We expect that the company would seize this opportunity to further develop the Sunti-Mokwa Road to support the CSR efforts it has already undertaken in rebuilding the critical Apapa-Wharf Road in conjunction with other private and public-sector stakeholders.

The world over, Sugar has been identified as a key commodity that is critical to national food security. Other than the development of local content, an investment of this size in the sugar value chain will not only stern the tide of importation of sugar and save foreign exchange, but enhance rural industrialisation, create wealth and alleviate poverty. For this, I must commend Flour Mills of Nigeria –Your mantra, “Feeding the Nation, Every Day,” is truly an inspiration to us all.

It is, therefore, with great pleasure that I once again say congratulation to the Board, the Management and staff of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc for this auspicious project.

I thank you most sincerely for your attention.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Deputy Speaker Urges Nigerians In Diaspora To Support Economic Diversification

Yusuf Lasun, Reps, Budget Padding, 2016 Budget,The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Lasun Yusuf, has called on the Nigerians in Canada to help the Federal Government in the diversification of the economy.

The Deputy Speaker in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Wole Oladimeji, said no country of the world can employ 10 percent of its workforce as jobs do not reside in government but in the individual and corporate world.

Mr Lasun, while responding to the appeals made by the Nigerians in Canada who visited him in his office, said the country has operated a mono-economy for years and that led to the country’s underdevelopment.

According to him, the exploitation of oil has done more harm than good and since there is are conscious efforts to develop the agricultural sector, there is the need to partner with the developed world.

“Nigeria depended heavily on oil. We are trying to retrace our steps to agriculture. It is difficult to do mechanised farming in the forest region except in the northern part of the country. The process of mechanised farming is lacking in Nigeria because of mono-economy.

“Agriculture is what we have to go back to and depart from the old method.”
Lasun, however, said foreign direct investment is vital, as is information and communication technology.

“Education is the bedrock of everything. What we need in the area of education is the skill acquisition. We lack skill. If you don’t have the skill nothing can be done. It is relevant to all the sectors,” he said.

Earlier, Mr‎ Ramesh Sangha, a member of Parliament in Canada,‎ who led the delegation, explained that they were in the country for possible collaboration.

He told the Deputy Speaker that they wanted stronger ties with the Canadian government‎ so that areas of assistance could be identified.

Economic Diversification: 5,000 Farmers Undergo Training On Wheat Cultivation

Economic Diversification: 5,000 Farmers Undergo Training On Wheat CultivationAbout 5,000 farmers in Kaduna State are set to undergo training on wheat cultivation, as part of efforts by the government to diversify the economy through agriculture.

Declaring the training workshop open, the state Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said the programme was aimed at creating employment for the people as well as reducing poverty and youth restiveness in the state.

The governor, who noted that the north had the capacity to feed the entire nation through massive agriculture, however, lamented that such God-given potentials were underutilised due to overdependence on crude oil revenue and white collar jobs.

The production of wheat in the country is said to be about 300,000 metric tonnes a year, a sharp contrast to the 4.2 million metric tonnes required to keep their factories in operation.

According to the Executive Director, Lake Chad Research Institute, Dr Oluwasina Olabanji, who was represented at the occasion by a senior official from the institute, Dr Dominic Anogie, the average grain yield for wheat in the country is above 2.0 tonnes per hectare, although research has shown that this can be easily tripled if proper varieties and crop management is adopted.

Governor El-Rufai, while calling on the youths to embrace agriculture, said his administration would provide the trainees access to land and other incentives.

He added that the state had the capacity to excel in agriculture even as he announced that plans were underway to get seeds for 50,000 hectres in 2017 for wheat farming.

Some of the trainees and stakeholders were of the opinion that with more farmers going into wheat production, it would reduce the amount being spent on importation of the product annually.

They also identified their major challenges in the state as farm inputs, improved seedlings and access to finance and market, which they want the government to address at the end of the training.

The poor production level of wheat in Nigeria has put the cost of importation of the crop at a staggering 635 billion Naira i.e about $4 billion annually.

The state government believes that by providing over 50,000 hectres of land for its cultivation, it would go a long way in reducing the importation of wheat into Nigeria and also improve the economy.

FG Encourages Local Rice Production Towards Self-Sufficiency

Rice-Farming-In-NgieriaThe Federal Government of Nigeria, has endorsed the ban on the sale of foreign rice in Ebonyi State, with a view to encouraging local production, as the Nation strives towards rice self-sufficiency.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbe, gave the government’s position over the weekend.

He assured farmers in the state that the Federal Government would deploy agricultural equipment, including rice harvesters, threshers, and parboiling drums, to the state to encourage rice farming.

Mr Ogbe, however, asked youths to key into the initiative in order to diversify the economy.

Since recession hit Africa’s largest economy, there has been an upsurge in the cost of the staple food from about 12,000 Naira per bag of rice to over double that amount.

As a way of seeking solutions to the recession, the Federal Government as well as several economic analysts, have suggested a ban on the importation of products which the nation’s farmers can produce, though not in sufficient quantity.

The increase in prices has pushed many to resort to smuggling of rice to be able to sell cheaper to Nigerians.

Just last week, a tanker was intercepted by the Ogun State Area Command of the Customs.

Twenty-five other vehicles, loaded with smuggled bags of rice, were also intercepted along the land borders in some parts of Ogun State.

With the Federal Government’s intervention and full support in the area of local rice production, it is expected that the menace will be curbed while there would be increased supply of rice at subsidized rates.

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, earlier in November, predicted that in less than five years, Nigeria would become self-sufficient in rice production, going by the actions and on-going support of the government to farmers and Nigerians

 

Nigerian Air Force Explores Agriculture To Empower Barracks Youths

Air Chief empowers barrack youths through agricultureNigerian military is not left out in the nation’s search for a solution to the economic recession the oil-rich nation slid into few weeks ago, as the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, is exploring agriculture to empower youths in barracks.

He is confident that further involvement of youths in agriculture will deepen the economic diversification drive of the government.

Economy In Recession

Nigeria is battling to get out of its present economic recession made obvious when the National Bureau of Statistics released a second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report.

The report showed a contract in the GDP by 2.06% in the second quarter of 2016.

According to the report, the decline has caused the Naira to get weaker while lower oil prices dragged the oil sector down.

The output shrunk by 0.36 in the first quarter.

During the quarter, nominal GDP was 2.73% higher at 23.48 million Naira at basic prices.

This growth was lower than the rate recorded in the second quarter of 2015 by 2.44% points.

Empowerment Through Agriculture

While launching a scheme tagged ‘Barracks Youth Empowerment Through Agriculture (BYETA)’ held at the Air Force Base in Kaduna State, Air Marshal Abubakar said the initiative would empower youths and create jobs.

The Air Chief was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Nigerian Air Force headquarters, Air Vice Marshal James Gbum.

He explained that the inauguration of the youth empowerment programme was a testimony and determination of the Nigerian Air Force to key into the Federal Government’s policy on diversification of the economy to other non-oil sectors especially agriculture.

Message Of Self-reliance

The programme, according to the organisers, is designed to engage the youths, particularly those living in the barracks in productive ventures such as poultry, fishery and crops farming that would enable them live meaningful lives independent of their parents or guidance.

While urging the youth to make good use of the opportunity to empower themselves and contribute to the economic development of the nation, the representative of the Chief of Air Staff, enjoined parents and guidance to regularly monitor the progress of their wards in order to achieve the maximum success rate of the programme.

On his part, the Commander, 335 Base Service Group, Air Commodore Bello Garba, said the initiative was launched to further drive home the message of self-reliance and the directive given by the Chief of Air Staff for all secondary schools in the barracks to establish a demonstration farm which he also noted would prepare the youth to be self-reliant.

He told the gathering that in compliance with the directive, the 335 Base Service Group had established a BYETA association with an initial membership of 25 youths at its inception on August 30.

At the moment it has 98 registered members, including 35 engaged in fish farming, 25 in poultry, 26 in livestock and 12 in crop farming.

Some of the beneficiaries said they were pleased with the initiative they believe would empower them, help them feed Nigerians and ensure food security.

The Barrack Youth Empowerment Through Agriculture Programme is open to relatives of Air Force personnel and residents of host communities.

Lungu To Diversify Zambian Economy, Focus On Agriculture

lungu, zambian economy, agriculture, Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu, has decided to diversify the nation’s economy by focusing on unlocking the agriculture potentials of tropical Zambia, while reducing its dependence on copper mining.

The president expressed this after being sworn in for a new five-year term.

Although Zambia’s economy has been hard hit by depressed copper prices, diversifying into agriculture still presents a number of difficulties.

Reports say the agriculture sector is one that still needs a lot of development.

This is owing to the fact that it is focused on staple maize and is mostly produced by subsistence farmers who lack the capital and technology to lift yields.

The future of the copper industry in Zambia was thrown into doubt in January 2002, when investors in Zambia’s largest copper mine announced their intention to withdraw their investment.

However, surging copper prices between 2004 and 2016, rapidly rekindled international interest in Zambia’s copper sector.

Prospects for resuming critical budget support talks with the International Monetary Fund have however been delayed, due to the swearing in of a new head of state.

Economic Recession: Clergy Urges Nigerians To ‘Think More Creatively ‘

NigeriansA former Chaplain Of the Aso Villa Chapel, Reverend William Okoye, has urged Nigerians to look inwards and think of creative ways of overcoming the current economic challenges, without having to depend on the government.

The former chaplain and General Overseer of the All Christians Fellowship Mission expressed concerns on the level of hardship and increasing cases of suicide in Nigeria.

He said more families would suffer hardship if the state of recession was not urgently addressed.

Several financial and economic experts have made numerous suggestions on alternative measures that could be taken to bail the nation out of its downward economic spiral.

Many of those suggestions have bordered around encouraging private sector investment, as well as individuals to take up new initiatives along the path of agriculture and infrastructure.

While delivering a state of the nation address at the headquarters of the church in Abuja, Reverend Okoye stressed the need for the church in Nigeria to return to its original role of caring for the people in order to ameliorate the suffering of the masses.

He criticised the act of laziness among some Nigerians and also urged parents to bring up their children in ways that they could eventually add value to the society and future generations.

Nigeria In Recession: Government To Motivate Private Sector Investment

Sam Ohuabunwa , Nigeria, Recession, Private Sector, Investment In the bid to proffer solutions to the ongoing recession in Nigeria, Industrialist, Sam Ohuabunwa says the government should motivate private sector investment.

He gave this suggestion while speaking on the Channels Television breakfast program, Sunrise.

Mr  Sam said in order for the economy to be boosted very fast, the government needs to stimulate production. And to be able to do that, the government’s spending has to be supported by that of the private sector.

He said this in response to the reports by the National Bureau of Statistics, that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has contracted by 2.06%.

He also stated that the government should focus on investment as though the life of the nation depends on it. He furthermore suggested that the government should effectively show support to anyone who exhibits productivity.

Government Sector Not Enough To Sustain Economy

Mr Ohuabunwa stressed the need for the government to create an enabling environment for the private sector, as the economy cannot thrive solely on efforts of the Public Sector.

According to him, “Government has to take a definite position as to how to motivate private sector investment, while spending the public sector funds.

“The moment people are doing something that would be productive and linked to wealth creation, let us give them the support.

“A lot of Funding opportunities are being provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Ministry of Agriculture, but the problem is, in implementation, we fall short,” he added.

He further said that there should be a focus on manufacturing and agriculture; and urged individuals as well as the government to do whatever they could, to add value as well as to get the commercial aspect of agriculture activated.

NBA Conference Addresses Corruption, Economic Diversification

NBAThe Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has come together in an event for legal practitioners to discuss key issues, ranging from corruption to economic diversification and developing the Niger Delta.

The lawyers’ 56th event which was held in Port Harcourt Rivers State, brought together over 5,000 legal practitioners in Nigeria under the auspices of their umbrella union.

The on-going annual conference has now entered the second day and is perhaps the largest and most important gathering of lawyers in Nigeria.

With the focus on democracy and economic development, this year’s edition is meant to produce a blueprint for national development and the optimism shared by the host Governor.

Many of the attending lawyers said the conference could not have come at a better time than this, when the nation’s democracy has been tested by many contradictory court rulings.

 

 

FG Sets Up National Task Force On Rice, Wheat Production

Rice-Production-in-NigeriaThe Nigerian government has established a National Rice and Wheat Task Force to set up targets that will yield comprehensible and self-evident results in rice and wheat production.

At the inauguration of the Task Force on Tuesday Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said: “What we are trying to achieve is that agriculture is our main stay and we are trying to evolve a strategy for our economy, a strategy for employment and a strategy for feeding our people”.

Professor Osinbajo said that feeding the nation’s population was the focus of the Buhari administration.

“Rice and wheat is our main focus, and making sure that in one year we can show the world that we are serious,” he stressed.

Emphasising on the need to develop strategies to rejuvenate the whole value chain, he gave terms of reference to the panel.

The panel is to set up production targets for rice and wheat in the participating states, determine the scope and particulars for government support needed towards the attainment of the set targets and consider and proffer the best off-take and marketing arrangements that will encourage maximum effort among farmers  and millers.

They are to also determine the rice and wheat value chain deficiencies and recommend solutions for addressing them, mobilise farmers and millers in identified target states to engage the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and other available support facilities and establish timelines for the delivery of goals set by the Task Force.

After the Vice President listed the terms, the Chairman of the Task Force and Governor of Kebbi State, Mr Atiku Bagudu, thanked the Vice President for the consideration and stated that the disconnect between farmers and millers must be addressed.

He added that the two bodies in the value chain needed to be mobilised for maximum results.

A statement by a spokesman for the Vice President, Laolu Akande, said members of the task force include Governors of Kebbi State Senator Abubakar A. Bagugu, Dr. A. U. Ganduje of Kano State, and Mr David Umahi of Ebonyi State.

Others are the Minister of State for Agriculture, Lokpobiri Heineken, the President of Rice Farmers Association, Mr Aminu Goronyo and the President Wheat Farmers Association, Saliu Mohammed.

FG To Partner States On Solid Minerals Development

Solid MineralsThe Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, says the Federal Government will collaborate with states to strengthen mining activities in the country.

Fayemi, who disclosed this during the National Consultative Meeting on Validation of Roadmap for the Solid Minerals Sector in Kaduna State, explained that this would form a holistic platform for diversifying the nation’s economy.

The Minister with his colleagues in the ministry, commissioners of solid minerals and environment from across the states of the federation and other stakeholders gathered to discuss the road map.

With the dwindling revenue due to fall in global oil price, the Federal Government wants to get the states involved in the exploration of mineral deposits within their domains as part of efforts to diversify the economy.

He listed steps to be taken in order to achieve the objectives to include identifying, streamlining and legalising activities of the large numbers of artisanal miners.

The Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Bala Bantex, who stood in for Governor Nasir El-Rufai, commended the Federal Government’s effort of diversifying the nation’s sources of revenue.

He promised that the state will complement all efforts to revitalise the country’s economy.

Other stakeholders at the meeting stressed that solid minerals can drive industrialisation and economic growth in the country if only the Federal Government would allow increased participation by states and private sector in exploration, collection of royalties among others.

According to the 2012 audit report of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Nigeria has about 40 different solid minerals spread across the country, yet on the average, the sector contributes only about 0.34 percent to the country’s GDP.

Stakeholders say the limitation of states in the mining activities is largely responsible for the inactiveness of the sector.

FG To Invest Six Trillion Naira Pension Funds – Adeosun

Finance Minister, Kemi AdeosunThe Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, says the federal government is being cautious as it plans to invest the over six trillion Naira pension funds.

The Minister said this when she appeared before the House of Representatives as part of its ongoing sectoral debate on diversification of the Nigerian economy.

“A lot has been said about the pension money. We have six trillion and people treat it as if it’s just available for the taking. This is people’s future savings, so we have to be very cautious about how we release pension money into investment.

“The first thing we have to do is to relax the rules cautiously and with many safeguards so we don’t lose pensioners’ money and cause a problem in the future.

“Definitely we are going to put things in place such as the infrastructure bond that we are releasing that will encourage pension funds to invest but invest safely,” she said.

The Minister also said that the federal government has set up a committee to look into the financial impact of waivers that have been given by the government.

“Over the last five years we have given away one trillion Naira in waivers. It is quite significant and we believe that it needs to be looked at.

“Import duty waivers alone is 503 billion, VAT waivers is 227 billion. We are now going to look at what the cost benefits of these waivers are, what are the jobs that they have created.

“What we found is that they have been accused in some cases. We found that methods used to manage them are manual and therefore there is a lot of manipulation which we intend to address.”