The Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Zacch Adedeji has solicited the support of governors of sugar producing states in the country towards the revitalization of the sugar sub-sector.
Mr. Adedeji who made the appeal, yesterday when he led a delegation from the National Sugar Development Council on a courtesy visit to the Governor of Nasarawa state and Chairman, Forum of Governors of Sugar Producing States, Engr. Sule Abdullahi in Lafia, Nasarawa state, said the guidelines for the implementation of the Phase 2 of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan requires the inputs of critical stakeholders like state governors for it to succeed.
The Sugar Council Boss said state governors as landlords of sugar projects in their respective domains have contributed to the modest success so far recorded in the industry.
While commending the Forum of Governors of Sugar Producing States 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, said the Forum has contributed to the peace enjoyed across communities hosting sugar projects across states.
Recall that the Federal Government had in 2013 began the implementation of a 10-year master plan to revamp sugar sector.
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 opportunity 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, Mr. 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.
“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 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 Abdullahi Sule who thanked the delegation for the visit, noted that as a product of the sector who understands the opportunities and its numerous potentials, pledged the continuous support of the Forum he heads to revitalize the sector.
“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”.