Adhere to BIP Agreement, FG Urges Sugar Operators

Latif Busari

. Investments hit N157bn in six years
James Emejo in Abuja

The Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Dr. Latif Busari, has appealed to major operators in the nation’s sugar sub-sector to remain faithful to the implementation of the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) for the sector, which was signed in 2013.

He said a greater measure of commitment was required from key stakeholders in order to sustain the gains so far recorded as well as make the industry globally competitive in line with the economic diversification agenda of government.

He also said overall investments in the sugar sector currently stands at N157 billion within the last six years that the NSMP came on board, adding that more investors were coming in.

Busari, restated government’s readiness to build a globally competitive sugar industry that would guarantee huge return on investments for all players, attain self-sufficiency, create jobs, generate electricity and derive other benefits of the sugarcane value chain as contained in the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).

He spoke when the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo toured major sugar project sites across the country.

The minister was accompanied on the visit by the President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Chairman, BUA Group, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu and Chairman, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Mr. John Coumantaros.

The NSDC boss added that the council would continue to provide all necessary policy supports and regulatory assistance for the sector to thrive.

He commended the three major investors in the sector- Flour Mills Nigeria, BUA Sugar Refinery and Dangote Sugar Refinery for their huge investments in the sector amidst operational and climatic challenges.

Busari, however, tasked the operators to speed up work across their factories, noting that Nigerians are anxious to see that these factories become operational in view of their huge economic impact on the country and benefit to all interested parties.

He said: “Government is very much interested in building a globally competitive sugar sector that would make Nigeria a net exporter of the commodity. We are not going to relent in our determination to attain self-sufficiency in sugar production as contained in the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan.

“It is gratifying to note that overall investments in the sugar sector of the national economy have risen to N157 billion in the last six years that the NSMP came on board, interestingly, more investors are coming in”.

In a statement by Deputy Director, Public Affairs, NSDC, Ahmed Waziri, Busari added, that, “As you already know, President Muhammadu Buhari had in March 2018 commissioned a multi-billion Naira sugar project in Sunti, Niger state owned by the Flour Mills of Nigeria. Also, the BUA Group is working hard at its BIP site in Lafiagi, Kwara state.

“The project would be ready for commissioning by the last quarter of 2020. Same effort is being replicated by the market leader, the Dangote Group at its two sites in Numan, Adamawa state and Tunga in Nasarawa state.

“Both projects form the BIP sites of the group. So, in all, though coming a bit late, I believe we are on track, and we will not relent in our resolve to grow our sugar industry.”