…reiterates commitment to National Sugar Master Plan
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
FLOUR Mills of Nigeria, FMN, weekend, called on state governments to do all they could to ensure adequate protection of its investments from all forms of insecurity, in order to ensure increased investments nationwide.
Already, the Flour Mills Nigeria said it is investing over $300 million in the establishment of a sugar manufacturing company in Nasarawa state to stimulate economic activities in the state and provide employment opportunities to the people of the state.
Group Managing Director /CEO FMN, Mr. Omoboyede Olusanya, made the call during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with Nassarawa State Government, following its acquisition of 20,450 hectares of land to build a sugar company in Toto Local Government Area of the state.
Fifteen thousand of the hectares will be devoted to sugarcane, while the remaining hectares would be for cassava and infrastructural development will also serve the host community.
Expressing commitment towards development of the sugar value chain through the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) of the Federal Government, the company maintained that expansion of the sugar value chain would further ensure the nation’s food security.
Olusanya explained that FMN’s investments in Sunti, Niger State and the Nasarawa State BIP development plan, would significantly benefit host and surrounding communities through improvement projects such as; access roads, electrification projects, primary healthcare and educational facilities, and expanded job opportunities for the youth in particular.
According to him, “We are strong believers in backward integration but also very strong believers in sugar master plan. About 15, 000 hectares of the land will be for sugar and potentially the rest for cassava, the rest will be tied down to infrastructure not just to support the plantation, but to support the community at large.
“We implore the minister and governor to continue to do everything in their power as we make these investments; government continues to adhere strictly to its policies to ensure it protects the investments that we make. The more that is done, the more we can do what we are doing across the country.”
Expressing joy for the project in his state, Governor Abdullahi Sule who gave assurances of adequate protection of all investments, said its ultimate goal was to have FMN invest in cassava, and also contribute to the local development of the people, adding that about 80 percent of households in the state were into one agricultural activity or the other.
He said, “Flour Mills is not known for sugar, its known for flour, so our ultimate goal is to get Flour Mill to do cassava in Nasarawa state but right now what they are more interested in is sugar that’s why they are starting with sugar. In the sugar cane complex you produce power, sugar, ethanol and animal feed.
“This area they are going into is a virgin area which attracts bandits, clearing the site eliminates an opportunity for bandits to remain in that area. We have the military super camp at the same site, wire struck we have the squadron of the mobile police so you have nothing to fear.
On his part, the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, commended his colleague on his determination to industrialize the state and create jobs for the people.
He identified root causes of insecurity in the country to include poverty, illiteracy, high unemployment rate, poor economic infrastructure and environmental degradation.
Prof. Zulum advised FMN to partner and take the plight of the indigenes into consideration, in order to avoid problems in the area.
“Addressing root causes of insecurity is very vital for national development therefore it is my sincere wish that the establishment of this Flour Mill in Nasarawa state will create jobs, stimulate economic growth that will support the state as well as the nation in general.
“Ensure establishment of strong institutional guideline that will ensure sustainability of this programme. Flour mill should take into consideration the plight of the indigenes of Nasarawa State in terms of local content development. This is very key so that indigenes of the state will derive maximum benefit from this project.”
Minister of Trade and Investment, Richard Adeniyi-Adebayo, urged investors to look at the various Backward Integration Programme to help the country become self sufficient and exporters of various commodities saying, “it is the desire of the federal government that within the next few years Nigeria will have enough sugar to serve the Nigerian market and export to rest of Africa.”