The Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Zacch Adedeji, has underscored the cooperation of governors in achieving the 10-year development plan for sugar production and business in Nigeria.
Adedeji, who stated this during his visit to Nasarawa State Governor Sule Abdulahi, said the 10-year master plan will be a paper-alone policy if governors of sugar producing states and other stakeholders fail to give their inputs and lend their support to its implementation.
Nigeria is currently implementing phase 1 of the master plan which was launched in 2013. It is aimed at revitalizing the sugar sub-sector.
While commending the Forum of Governors of Sugar Producing States chaired by Sule, for creating a safe and enabling environment for sugar operators to go about their business activities without hitches such as perennial disagreements over land ownership between host communities and operators, communal hostilities and other associated challenges, he said governors are landlords of sugar projects in their respective states. He pointed out that their support has contributed to the modest success so far recorded in the industry. He added that the forum has contributed to the peace enjoyed across communities hosting sugar projects across the states.
The policy plan code-named the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) has four major objectives which are for Nigeria to attain self sufficiency in sugar production, stem the rising tide of sugar importation, create job opportunities for Nigerians and the generation of electricity and production of ethanol for industrial purposes.
The first phase of the plan is expected to end in the first quarter of 2023.
Speaking on the current status of the master plan, Adedeji said given the importance of the sector to Nigeria’s economy, and considerable success recorded in the last 10 years, President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved the phase 2 of the master plan which is expected to run for another 10 years beginning from 2023.
He said: “Your excellency, sir, we are quite pleased with the invaluable contributions of the forum you chair to the faithful implementation of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan. We’ve made considerable progress in critical segments of the NSMP, especially as it relates to the refining component of the plan. Our next plan of action is to replicate the successes recorded in the area of sugar refining in our field and agricultural operations.
“As you rightly know, the NSMP isn’t about sugar production alone, we count largely on it’s ability to take millions of our people out of poverty, develop infrastructure and improve the economic status of communities hosting sugar projects. We are quite optimistic about our projections in the sugar industry.”
We shall rely heavily on the use of verifiable data and modern technology in to drive the phase 2 of the master plan. The sugar sector holds tremendous opportunities for Nigeria and Nigerians in terms of job creation for our youths, increased revenue and general economic prosperity for the nation”.
On the challenges encountered by BIP operators and plans put in place by the council to address them, Mr. Adedeji said: “We have listened to them in their separate presentations during our meetings in the last one week. They outlined a number of challenges confronting them. As you know, Nigeria is part of the global system. So the delay identified in some areas were explained based on the scarcity of forex, the ongoing war in Ukraine and many other external factors which have slowed down their pace of progress on their sites. But we commend their effort and their commitment towards making sure that our dreams and goals for the sugar sector are realized”.
In his remarks, Governor Sule, who thanked the delegation for the visit, noted that as a product of the sector who understands the opportunities and its numerous potentials, the forum would continue to support efforts to revitalize the sector.
His words: “The sugar sector is so dear to President Muhammadu Buhari. There’s hardly anytime we meet to discuss on progress and developments in the agricultural sector that the President wouldn’t ask about the sugar industry. He sees the sugar industry as the pride of the nation’s economy. My Forum will continue to support the industry to achieve her full potential”.