Buhari Blames Unemployment in Rural Areas for Insecurity

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Muhammadu Buhari

•Says new $1.3bn chemicals’ plant ready soon

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday attributed insecurity in parts of the country to lack of employment opportunities in most rural communities.

The president, in a statement in Abuja by his media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, expressed concern that for decades, previous government policies focused on urban development at the expense of rural inclusion.

He said: ‘‘In the last four years, we have worked hard to bridge some of these economic imbalances through our various agricultural and financial policies to attract employment opportunities to rural areas. As we continue to expand our security operations to bring an end to these challenges, it is important to note that peace and prosperity can only be sustained if we collectively and actively support investments that take opportunities to our rural citizens.

‘‘I therefore urge our governors, bankers, investors and entrepreneurs to look beyond our cities when it comes to investments. As we have seen from Nigeria’s five-year fertiliser revolution, if investors are willing to endure the short-term ‘start-up’ pains, they will surely benefit from long-term sustainable and substantial gains.”

The president, while playing host to a delegation of Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN), stated that a new basic chemicals platform worth $1.3 billion, to produce ammonia and fertilisers in the country will soon be ready for inauguration.
He said the new plant, whose location he didn’t disclose, would be built in partnership with the Kingdom of Morocco.

The federal government and the Kingdom of Morocco had earlier this month, signed five strategic Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) to foster Nigeria-Morocco bilateral collaboration and promote the development of hydrocarbons, agriculture and commerce in both countries.
Under the agreement between OCP Africa, NSIA and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria will import phosphate from the Kingdom of Morocco and use it to produce blended fertiliser for the local market and export.
Nigeria will also produce ammonia and export it to Morocco.

As part of the project, Nigeria is to establish an ammonia plant in Akwa Ibom State.
Buhari said: ‘‘His Majesty, the King of Morocco and I have agreed to extend the current phosphate supply agreement between the Kingdom of Morocco and Nigeria. We both believe that to consolidate and expand on the successes recorded thus far, we must secure raw material supplies for our blenders.

‘‘Furthermore, to improve the balance of trade between Nigeria and Morocco, the two countries have signed an agreement to develop a $1.3 billion basic chemicals platform in Nigeria which will produce ammonia, phosphoric acid, sulphuric acid and various nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) and diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertilisers using Nigeria’s gas reserves.”

The president added that the new plant, when completed, would complement the those of Dangote and Indorama Chemicals facilities which produce urea, ammonia and other industrial raw materials.
‘‘When we combine these projects with the existing 44 blending plants, Nigeria will indeed become a regional and global fertiliser power house,’’ he said.

Commenting on the activities of the FEPSAN, Buhari expressed delight in the progress they have made over the past five years, saying despite the country going through recessions during the period, investments in the fertiliser and agricultural inputs sector continued to grow.
‘‘Though many investors chose to take their monies out of Nigeria, you continued to invest. Today, we are seeing the fruits of your smart, long-term and patriotic decisions. This is why all Nigerians should be proud of the personal commitments and sacrifices you all made in getting us to where we are today.

‘‘Another commendable trait worth mentioning is that all your investments have been balanced between urban and rural Nigeria. These are the types of investments needed to address the unemployment and security challenges our nation is facing today,’’ Buhari stated.

According to him, the federal government will continue to ensure a conducive business environment for investments to flourish.
The president also commended Jigawa State Governor, Mr. Badaru Abubakar; Mr. Thomas Etuh and his FEPSAN team, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), security and intelligence agencies and all federal and state government agencies for their collaboration in making the project possible.

Earlier, FEPSAN President, Etuh, had recounted that at their first meeting with the president five years ago, he committed the association to reduce Nigeria’s reliance on import, enhance fertiliser availability and affordability and create jobs over a four-year period.
‘‘Today, four years later, Mr. President, I am proud to inform Your Excellency, and indeed all Nigerians, that mission is accomplished,’’ he said.

Etuh stated that from three blending plants operating at 40 per cent capacity in 2016, Nigeria today has 44 blending plants most of which are operating at full capacity.