FG okays 10-year sugar self-sufficiency plan
Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved a 10-year National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) aimed at ensuring Nigeria’s self sufficiency in sugar production.
The FEC, chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan, said it was determined to reduce Nigeria’s import dependency on sugar to save the nation about $350 million yearly in import costs.
Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, alongside Minister of Trade Investments, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, told journalists that the new master-plan specified timelines of sugar and ethanol projections required to achieve self-sufficiency. It also was specific on the number of factories and sugarcane hectares and the number of skilled and unskilled workers required to meet the national objective.
Also, the proposed introduction of N5,000 note by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may be put on hold following pressure mounted on the President against the proposal.
Hints from the marathon closed-door session held by members of the House of Representatives indicated that Jonathan may have been convinced that introducing a N5,000 note would be of little assistance to the economy.
Sources at the closed-door session disclosed that Speaker Aminu Tambuwal briefed members about the outcome of a meeting between Jonathan, Senate President David Mark and himself on Tuesday evening.
Maku said the Federal Government wants to replicate the successes it recorded in the cement sector where through such a master plan, production rose from two million tones in 2002 to 28 million tones in 2012.
According to him: “If Nigeria could achieve the level of local production envisioned in the NSMP, she stands to derive the following benefits: 1,797,000 tonnes of sugar yearly; 161.2 million litres of ethanol yearly; 400mw of electricity yearly; 1.6 million tonnes of animal feeds yearly; 37,378 permanent jobs; $65.8 million savings in forex on fuel imports yearly; and $350 million savings in forex on sugar imports yearly. In view of the above benefits, council considered and approved the NSMP for implementation and adoption as government’s strategic road map for the development of the sugar sub-sector. Council approved the package of general and BIP support incentives as proposed in order to stimulate investments in the sector and raise local production of sugar to meet national demand and reverse Nigeria’s total dependence on imported sugar.”
The Council, which lasted for over seven hours also deliberated on the memo brought before it by the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’i on the condition of Nigerian universities, especially the ones owned by the federal and state governments.
Jonathan, after the consideration of the reports, directed that it be presented to the National Economic Council for deliberation by the governors of the 36 states who own a total of 37 of the nation’s universities.
House spokesman, Zakari Mohammed, who also confirmed the meeting of Jonathan, Mark and Tambuwal, told journalists yesterday that it offered an opportunity for the two National Assembly presiding officers to brief the President on the essence of the Assembly’s stand regarding budget implementation.
The sources said that at that meeting, the President was briefed about the essence of the resolutions of the two Houses of the National Assembly on the burning issues of the N5,000 note and budget implementation.
He said: “The Speaker informed members that the President had invited Mark and himself to a meeting for briefing on the resolutions of both chambers against the N5,000 note. He told us that Jonathan was assured that the resolutions against the planned introduction of the N5,000 note was not an affront on the executive arm but a move meant to protect the interest of majority of Nigerians who might be adversely affected by the plan.
“From the way the meeting went on, according to the Speaker, it is very likely that the President may prevail on the CBN to suspend the introduction of the N5,000 note,” the source added.
And rising from its Standing Committee meeting in Akure, Ondo State Capital, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has kicked against the planned introduction of N5,000 note. It appealed to Jonathan to prevail on the CBN to halt the grandiose project, and redirect the intended fund for its production to something more rewarding to the poor.
In a communiqué signed by the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh, the Church observed that its Standing Committee could not see any obvious economic advantage and compelling necessity for the CBN’s new currency note even after perusing its many advertorials intended to educate.
It stated: “Whether it is being printed abroad or locally, it is certainly a commodity with low demand”.
The Church expressed dismay that “the scourge of violence and criminality continues to bedevil much of the nation”, adding that “horrific incidents of wanton destruction and brutal murder are part of everyday life for too many of our citizens and this is having a disastrous effect upon the life of the nation and the church.”
The statement further said: “While patience has been urged we believe that the time for decisive action is long overdue! We call on the Federal Government to ensure that every Nigerian is safe wherever he or she chooses to reside and pursue a legitimate career. It is therefore extremely important and of extreme urgency for the activities of Boko Haram to be brought to an end in the interest of our corporate existence as a nation.
“The Standing Committee observed regrettably that while all Nigerians, whether northerner, Christians, Muslims, animists, are safe and free to live and worship in southern part of the country; this cannot be said of Christians in the core north. Even in Federal Universities, Christians are denied lands for building places of worship. And Boko Haram activities have increasingly made life and expression of Christian faith extremely difficult in the core North. Standing Committee observed that a situation where one receives, but refuses to give, is a poor sense of charity, and certainly does not encourage unity and national integration and calls on government to redress this situation”.
The Committee noted that the proposed Bill for Fulani Commission if enacted will be a recipe for endless crises throughout the nation and urged the National Assembly and state governments to reject the Bill.
It added: “It is clearly an attempt to place the concerns of one ethnic group above all others and will further threaten the unity of our dear country. We therefore call on the National Assembly, the concerned state governments and the civil society to reject the bill. To keep their profession and ancestral pastoral heritage, we encourage the Fulanis to establish permanent ranches in their home states and embrace improved methods of animal husbandry