President Muhammadu Buhari alongside other dignitaries yesterday, predicted an agriculture and economic boom for the country following the coming on stream of the $2.5 billion Dangote Fertiliser Plant in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos.
They spoke during the inauguration of the plant, with an installed capacity of producing three million metric tonnes (mt) of urea yearly.
Specifically, President Buhari noted that the plant is already exporting fertiliser to the United States of America (USA), India and Brazil, among other countries and is expected to trigger huge job creation opportunities, wealth, and secure the country’s agricultural future.
The plant, situated on 500 hectares of land in the Lekki Free Trade Zone, is reputed as Africa’s largest Granulated Urea Fertiliser complex and expected to add well over $400 million in foreign exchange to the Nigerian economy from the exportation of the products to other Africa countries.
Buhari noted that the plant would result in Nigeria becoming self-sufficient in fertiliser production.
According to him, the Federal Government is now determined more than ever before to provide enabling environment for private sector investors to thrive, adding that his government would continue to improve on infrastructure, power, security and enact relevant laws and regulations that would drive investments in the economy.
He said: “The fertiliser plant we are commissioning today has the capacity to provide multiplier effects on our economy, including job creation, which is a key goal of my administration. The nation also stands to gain extensively in earnings of foreign exchange from the excess production of the plant. I am informed that we have already started exporting to the USA, Brazil and India.
“The coming on stream of the plant is creating huge opportunities in the areas of employment, trade, warehousing, transport and logistics. This will drastically create wealth, reduce poverty and secure the future of our nation.
“In agricultural sector, which is another focal point of our economic policy, we expect a boom, as fertiliser is now readily available.
Many Nigerians, who hitherto practised subsistence farming because of the non-availability of necessary inputs, can now take up agriculture as a business. We expect a rise of a new breed of agropreneurs who will add value to farming, and make the nation self-sufficient in food production.”
The President noted that along with several other subsidiaries, the Dangote Group is the second biggest employer of labour in the country, after the Federal Government.
He commended the chairman and CEO of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, for helping to rebrand Nigeria through his investments across Africa.
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele described the commissioning as an “emotional” one for himself and the bank.
He said, “I am delighted, extremely elated indeed that a Nigerian in the person of Alhaji Aliko Dangote has taken not just this great initiative of helping to solve a perennial petrochemical imports problem, but has taken advantage of the emerging huge market opportunity presented by recent developments.”
Emefiele further described the event as a “stellar” realisation of President Buhari’s vision and timely in the light of the war in Europe.
He added: “This fertiliser plant is timely when one considers recent developments in global markets, where prices of wheat, fertiliser and crude oil spiked by over 30 per cent following the Russia -Ukraine war, in addition to the lessons we learned from the protectionist actions of countries during the early days of Covid-19.”
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu said former Governor Bola Tinubu conceived the Lekki Free Trade Zone LFTZ in 2003 to attract investments to the state.
He said the LFTZ also hosts the 650,000BPD Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Plant and the Lekki Deep Sea Port within the same axis, making it a prime investment destination.
Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment Niyi Adebayo noted that although the fertiliser complex is just one part of the Dangote Refinery project, “this part alone offers unquantifiable value” to the economy.
Adebayo said: “I am aware that this facility has the potential to produce three million metric jobs yearly of urea fertiliser in phase one alone.
“This will go a long way in bridging the current fertiliser gap and improving soil and farm yields.
“One of the Federal Government’s key ambitions is for Nigeria to be both self-sufficient in food production, and also to be a net exporter of food and value-added products. The Dangote Fertiliser Plant goes a long way in realising this vision not just for Nigeria, but for the entire continent.”
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, also lauded Dangote for the project.
Earlier, Alhaji Dangote said the fertiliser plant would drastically reduce the level of unemployment and youth restiveness through the generation of direct and indirect employment.(The Guardian)
•PHOTO: Dangote fertiliser plant