Even the most vocal critics of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government will no doubt hail his administration’s determination to seize power, pursue, support and further fund some very important projects and policies that he inherited from his predecessor in 2015. .
True to its mantra of change, the Buhari administration thought differently and acted differently in the interest of the nation.
One such well thought out policy which the Buhari administration inherited from its predecessor and adopted as one of the frontline programs of this government is the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), a 10 roadmap policy years that seeks to significantly revitalize the vibrant sugar sub-sector and establish Nigeria as one of the continent’s leading sugar producing countries.
The sugar roadmap policy, whose effective implementation began in 2013, is anchored on four major axes, which are: increasing local sugar production to achieve self-sufficiency; to stem the rising tide of unbridled importation of goods; create a large number of employment opportunities and also contribute to the production of ethanol and the production of electricity.
Although the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) is the main implementing body of the policy, its implementation involves the allocation of responsibilities to engender maximum participation of all relevant stakeholders such as the Agency National Food and Drug Administration and Control, Standards Organization of Nigeria. , Nigeria Customs Service, Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Finance as well as other relevant MDAs.
Stakeholder institutions and facilitators such as millers, importers, sugar cane growers and banks also play a central role in the implementation of the master plan.
The journey to self-sufficiency in sugar production is not without its bumps, but the Federal Government, through the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), the leadership of the NSDC is committed to meeting these particular challenges.
It is an open secret that Nigeria has since reached and surpassed its raw sugar refining capacity, which is a major component of the NSMP, a feat the government is doing its best to replicate in the aspect of the program. backward integration (BIP) of Nigerian sugar. Master Plan (NSMP).
The Board has demonstrated in more ways than one its willingness to ensure that the BIP sugar project achieves the desired objectives and, in various engagements with operators in the sector, has reiterated the firm position of the Board on the implementation of the BIP .
In fact, Nigeria has since reached its raw sugar refining capacity, which is a tremendous and very commendable achievement. But the successes achieved in the field of raw sugar refining must be replicated in the BIP project. We can only celebrate as a sector if we are able to grow cane and produce raw sugar locally. It’s hard work, but the board said they were more than ready to achieve the objectives given their commitment and efforts.
Since March 2021, there have been innovative ideas to address the challenges of the sugar sector. High on the list of issues that have caught the council’s attention is the perennial conflict between sugar farmers and host community members over land ownership.
To address this persistent problem, the council established the Sugar Producing States Governors Forum ably chaired by Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule.
The initiative was a smart move given that the lands are under the authority of state governors; they have the stamp of authority to allocate land without warning.
In addition, the establishment of an investment office housed within the Council to handle investment matters, the zero duty incentive on the import of machinery and equipment for sugar plantations as well as the seizures by the Nigeria Customs Service.
This initiative put an end to the recurring confrontations between sugar operators and regulatory bodies in the country’s ports.
Recently, to encourage investors in the sector, President Muhammadu Buhari launched a USD 73 million irrigation infrastructure fund to cushion the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on sugar operators implementing the BIP project. , namely Dangote Sugar Refinery, BUA Sugar Refinery, Golden Sugar Refinery and KIA Africa Group.
President Muhammadu Buhari, during the official inauguration of the intervention fund in Abuja, said that “the aim of this intervention is to significantly improve the performance of the country in terms of cane yields as well as reduce the impact negative impact of COVID-19 on the industry’s progress in achieving national goals”. self-sufficiency.
Therefore, this strategic intervention will enable the main sugar producers in the country; Dangote, BUA and Flour Mills Sugar to expand their capacity and take advantage of the import substitution opportunity in the sugar market, to further reduce the country’s import bill”.
The National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) Executive Secretary, Mr. Zacch Adedeji, said the intervention was part of the government’s determination to create an enabling environment for private investment to flourish and prosper in the country.
Preliminary activities, including identification of specific project sites for each operator, which includes a framework for design and engineering services for field and bulk water supply systems, project management and maintenance specifications, adoption of a business model and costing, among others, were concluded long before the official commissioning of this laudable initiative.
To clarify some misconceptions in some quarters about alleged favoritism and deliberate distortion of the master plan by some operators, the council has debunked these claims by saying that the NSMP is no longer a policy. It is now an Act of the National Assembly following its amendments in 2015, and declared that it will no longer condone or condone the deliberate distortion of the master plan by anyone.
Abdullahi W. Yunusa written from Garki 11, Abuja.