By Solomon Asowata
President Muhammadu Buhari says the 2.5 billion dollar Dangote Fertiliser Plant in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, will boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and accelerate economic growth.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Buhari spoke on Tuesday while inaugurating the three million metric tonnes per annum urea production plant.
He said: “This fertiliser plant is further expected to enhance our administration’s drive towards achieving self-sufficiency in food production in the country.
“I commend the Chairman, Board and Management of Dangote Industries Ltd., for their business initiative in establishing this plant.
“It will reduce our dependence on importation of fertiliser, create jobs, increase the inflow of foreign exchange and accelerate economic growth.”
According to him, the establishment of the plant demonstrates the commitment of Dangote Industries Ltd. to the socio-economic development of the country and the well-being of Nigerians.
The president expressed optimism that the investment in the plant would replicate the group’s earlier experience in the cement sector where it had become a leading name in Nigeria and across the African continent.
He said: “Dangote Industries Ltd. has created thousands of jobs across Nigeria. It is the second biggest employer of labour in this country after the Federal Government.
“This is very pleasing because job creation by the private sector will help to improve security and take thousands of youths off the streets.”
The president said the nation also stood to gain extensively in forex earnings through excess production and exports from the plant.
“I am informed that you have already started exporting to other countries including the United States, India and Brazil.
“The coming on stream of the plant is creating huge opportunities in the area of job creation, trade, transport and logistics to earn significant wealth, reduce poverty and helping to secure the future of our nation,” said Buhari.
He noted that the agricultural sector was a critical aspect of the economy and availability and affordability of fertiliser would lead to increased yields for farmers.
Buhari added that he was expecting a rise of new breeds of ‘agropreneurs’ who would take to farming and make the nation self-sufficient in food production.
He said: “I want to assure all Nigerians that our government is focused on providing the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.
“We will continue to improve on infrastructure, power and security and other initiatives that will drive investments in our economy.
“Furthermore, we are partnering with the private sector through a tax credit scheme for the rehabilitation of roads across Nigeria under the Executive Order Seven.
“We know good roads contribute to easy movement of goods and services across the nation thus reducing the cost of doing business and improving productivity.
“We are also rehabilitating our railway lines and building new ones to lessen the burden on our roads and create an effective modern transportation network.”
Mr Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), lauded the Buhari-led administration for the support to end shortage of fertiliser in the country.
Emefiele noted that this had led to a significant increase of active fertiliser blending plants in Nigeria from seven in 2015 to 48 in 2022.
He said the import bill on fertiliser had not only dropped significantly but the country was now earning forex through exportation of fertiliser.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the Lekki Free Trade Zone was conceived by former Governor Bola Tinubu in 2003 to attract investments to the state.
He said the free trade zone today was host to Dangote Fertiliser Plant, which was the largest fertiliser plant in Africa and the second largest in the world.
The governor said there was also the 650,000BPD Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Plant and the Lekki Deep Sea Port within the same axis, making it a prime investment destination.
On their parts, Mr Niyi Adebayo, Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment and Dr Mohammad Abubakar, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, enjoined other companies to emulate the strides of Dangote Industries Ltd.
Earlier, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President, Dangote Industries Ltd., said the fertiliser plant would drastically reduce the level of unemployment and youth restiveness through generation of direct and indirect employments.
Dangote said: “Agriculture accounts for over 20 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, and the country is a leading producer of various agricultural commodities.
“The sector has the potential of becoming the biggest source of income for our nation, providing employment and raw materials for industries.
“However, low fertiliser usage has been a major reason for low productivity in the sector.
“It is common knowledge that nonavailability of the product, in quantity and quality, rather than affordability, is the primary constraint to the use of fertiliser.
“Our goal is to make fertiliser available in sufficient quantities and quality for our teeming farmers, assuring greater agricultural output.” (NAN)