James Emejo in Abuja
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has sought the intervention of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Muhammed Bello, to expedite the allocation of land to three dairy companies which had applied to establish dairy processing plants in the FCT.
He listed the companies to include WAMCO Friesland Campino, Nestle and L and Z, adding that several others will also be making similar requests going forward.
Emefiele said enabling the companies to set up their plants for local milk processing is part of the key initiatives of the apex bank that will help create jobs and reduce the restiveness of youths in the country.
Speaking when he led chief executives of the dairy firms to the minister on a courtesy visit, the governor said the various collaborative efforts by the CBN and the private sector have started yielding significant results with resultant deliberate measures by private firms to embrace the backward integration measures and boost job creation and industrialisation locally.
Specifically, he identified one of such measures as the partnership with milk importing companies to develop the local dairy sector and harness its potential in the interest of the country.
He said the strategic partnership commenced with Niger State government allocating 31,000 hectares of land to milk companies within the Bobi Grazin Reserve to develop the local dairy breeds for enhanced milk collection and also integrate the local pastoralist and ultimately curb the farmers-herders crisis.
He noted that the additional resolve by some milk producing companies to establish milk processing factories in the FCT as it offers a unique environment for industrialisation and easy access to raw materials from the entire North-Central zone, was in furtherance previous initiatives by the bank.
The CBN governor told the FCT minister that, “Nestle Plc and Friesland Campina Plc have signified interest to establish milk processing factories in the FCT and the CBN is ready to work with them to actualise the deliverable of these projects. We therefore request you to please assist in the allocation of land in FCT expeditiously.”
He said the establishment of these companies in the FCT would drive industrialisation, stimulate local production of milk and hence development of the local dairy sector, boost employment generation, facilitate linkages along the dairy sector in Nigeria and ultimately conserve enormous foreign exchange that would be required for importation.
He further assured that if granted the land, “I can tell you, 12 months and maximum 18 months,we will all be there to see Wampco has started processing its milk in Abuja”.
According to Emefiele:” There’s a need for us as a country to really step forward and aggressively see to it that we are able to reduce the level of unemployment and create jobs for our people.
“And the process of creating jobs also means that we have to make ourselves available; for instance we can make the states and FCT economically viable and making them economically viable also means we should be able to get large companies, Friesland and Campina which had been in Nigeria for over 60 years and Nestle had been in Nigeria for over 60 years.
“Incidentally, these are companies that can produce or process goods that we can produce at primary level in Nigeria. We are saying if the farmers are able to produce the primary raw materials that these companies need for their final products, we need to be able to encourage Friesland and Campina, Nestle and L and Z and other manufacturing companies to think about how they can set up manufacturing plants in different parts of the country and in this case for today, the FCT.
“I am delighted that today, we have brought Friesland and campina, we have brought Nestle and we have also brought L and Z.
“They are asking the FCT administration to provide them land. The CBN has already granted facilities to some of them to set up their factories.
“Wampco for instance is about to import its own equipment with which they can begin to process milk and yogurt and other dairy products in Nigeria. They have already started in Isheyin but they are going to set up a big one here in Abuja.
“For us, we think this is one way to create jobs, to reduce restiveness in our country and ultimately get our economy to grow again.”
Responding, however, Bello apologised for the delay in granting the companies’ approval and vowed to provide them with the needed support to actualise their objectives.
He said: “In principle, be rest assured that the land will be made available,” adding that the companies should within the next three weeks identify their needs for immediate action by his office.
The minister however, noted that though he may approve the land, the facilities required by the firms to operate may be lacking.
To this end, he called on the CBN for support in the provision of infrastructure to open up the roads.
He explained that four grazing reserves had already been provided for in the FCT Development Masterplan 41 years ago, stressing that the territory provides for the North- South route for cattle from time immemorial.
He said the four grazing reserves in Bwari, Karshi, Gwagwalada and Rubuchi, accounted for 32,000 hectares of land in the FCT.
Bello, also seized the occasion to praise Emefiele’s passion and giant strides recorded in his efforts to revamp the economy, making particular reference to the revolution experienced in local rice production, Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP), and other commodities.