By Nafiu Toyin Abdulqadri.
Following the persistent efforts of the Kwara State governor, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, the Federal Government has given a 2023 tentative timeline for the resuscitation of the long comatose Bacita Sugar company
Speaking during the commissioning of the Nigeria Sugar Institute in Ifelodun local government area of the State on Thursday, Dr. Latif Busari, Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council said Bacita, which is now acquired by new owners, would begin test run production in the last quarter of 2023.
In his reaction, Gov. AbdulRazaq, who also announced the siting of a special economic zone in Kwara State — one of the six being established by the Muhammadu Buhari administration, said the people of Kwara would appreciate if urgent steps are taken to resolve all subsistent issues around the moribund company.
“We implore the minister to help us to talk to AMCON to urgently resolve the issues surrounding the Bacita sugar company. We have met with AMCON and we are aware they are trying to unbundle it. Once that is done, with Bacita and BUA refineries, Kwara will be the leading producer of sugar in the whole of West Africa,” the governor said.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Rafiu Ajakaye in a press release late Thursday evening quoted governor Abdulrahman has saying that the economic zone, which is to be sited in Lasoju Otte in Asa local government area of the state — “is a huge investment that would attract large businesses, create jobs, and lead to socioeconomic growth of the state.”
The statement reads further: (The governor) commended the President and Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Otunba Niyi Adebayo for the support that ceded the north central slot of the six economic zones to Kwara State.
“This project is very gigantic. Six of it is to be established across the country. We facilitated the siting of the project in the state through the Honourable Minister. We thank the Honourable Minister for his support. When completed, the project will change the economic fortune of this local government and the state at large,” AbdulRazaq said at a brief visit to the site in company of the Minister on Thursday.
Adebayo said the zone would involve massive infrastructural development that would lead to economic growth.
Earlier at the commissioning of the Sugar Institute, the Governor commended Adebayo and the private sector players such as Alhaji Aliko Dangote of Aliko Dangote Group and Alhaji AbdulSamad Rabiu of the BUA Group for their huge investments in the state and their support for the various initiatives to strengthen manpower in the subsector.
The commissioning was also attended by Deputy Governor Kayode Alabi; House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Industry Dolapo Badiru; top class traditional rulers from Kwara led by the Emir of Ilorin Dr Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari; and KAM Holding Chairman Alhaji Kamaru Yusuf; representative of the BUA Group Alhaji Kabir Rabiu. The event was joined virtually by the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria Abhay Thakur; Dangote; and Chairman Flour Mill Nigeria Limited John George Coumantros; who lauded the establishment of the institute.
Adebayo, for his part, said his ministry will continue to do its best in meeting expectations of all Nigerians with respect to industrialisation goals through a workable public private partnership.
He expressed delight at the establishment of the NSI which he said is viable to heighten the hope for economic prosperity of the country.
“This commissioning is a landmark achievement and a testament to what public private partnership can achieve. The sugar industry holds a special place in Nigeria’s industrialisation struggle. It carries the expectation of creating over a hundred thousand jobs. The NSI is one of the key instruments for its sustainability,” Adebayo said.
“Your Excellency, the Governor of Kwara State, you are indeed a brother and you have been most supportive of all our efforts most especially with regards to the sugar master plan. We will continue to thank you for what you are doing here. We get reports and hear what is going on here. We are and I am personally proud to be associated with you.”
Busari said the NSI is a critical enabler for the implementation of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan which “embodies three backup pillars that we hope will support the drive for a virile and competitive suave industry”.
He highlighted the pillars as research, development and innovation, technical manpower development, and provision of clean and pure seed cane for growers.
Dangote described knowledge acquisition as the primary factor of production, appreciating the vision and intelligence of those who conceived the establishment of the institute.
Rabiu said the facility will assist a lot in enhancing skill and research, and generate more jobs, adding however that there was also the need to create a central body that can provide reliable data on rice production.
He commended AbdulRazaq for his efforts towards resuscitating Bacita Sugar company in Edu local government of the state, which he said has the potential to create at least ten thousands jobs when completed.