Wole Ayodele in Jalingo
The Taraba State Government and Dangote Sugar Company on TuesdayÂ finally signed an agreement for the take off Lau Sugar Company 13 years after the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between both parties was signed.
Speaking on the occasion, Governor Darius Ishaku commended President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, for his patience and perseverance for the past 13 years that the project has been in the doldrums, saying this has shown that he is a serious businessman who is committed to seeing all his projects through.
He disclosed that there were many encumbrances he had to clear before the agreement could be signed all of which, according to him, were to protect the interest of the generality of the people of the state.
The governor, who promised that his administration would do everything possible to ensure the smooth take off of the project, stated: â€œI want to thank Dangote for his patience and perseverance for the past 13 years but I want to assure that the patience would be worthwhile.
â€œIâ€™m going to make it as a matter of policy. Weâ€™ll ensure nothing stops the project from reaching its final stage but the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the company is very crucial because we want the investment to have a human face. The company is going to develop Taraba and the people.â€
Expressing optimism that Lau, where the company is situated would soon be the centre of development in the state, Ishaku disclosed that besides sugar, the company would equally produce molasses and ethanol which he described as â€˜white oil.â€™
He equally expressed his administrationâ€™s preparedness to pay all those that are yet to be paid compensation, saying such problems are no longer that of Dangote but that of the state government just as he promised to complete the Kona/Lau road to ease access to the area.
Also speaking, a representative of Dangote, Mr. Joseph Makoju, maintained that Dangote is on course to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice and sugar just as he assured the people of the state that they would share form the proceeds of the company.
â€œDangote Group is committed in making the country self sufficient in rice and sugar after our success story in cement business and that is why Lau sugar project is very important to us.
He commended Ishaku for his commitment to the realisation of the project, stressing that the governor helped to clear all the hurdles encountered by the company.
Makoju said a team is already on ground working to ensure the effective take off of the project, adding that the sugar cane seedlings had already been planted, awaiting transplanting.
The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Mr. Yusufu Akirikwen, told journalists that after a careful study of the MoU, the state government renegotiated the agreement to ensure the state has a stake in it and guarantee the interest of the local people.
â€œWe have renegotiated the agreement and today we have six per cent equity share in the company and the interest of the local people has been taken care of in the new deal,â€ he said.
He further revealed that the entire project would cover a total of 36,000 hectares of land out of which 15.463 hectares had already been released to the company for the commencement of the first phase of the project while another 10,000 hectares would be allocated for the second and third phases.