First let me say how pleased I am to be here in Auchi, I was here in camp as a Youth Corper in 1979. I lived here among the warm and friendly people of Auchi for 6 weeks.
I have had the unique honour and privilege of visiting two great industrial enterprises in Edo State, all in one day. Earlier, we were at Okpella to commission the Edo Cement Plant of the BUA Group and the groundbreaking of their second 3 million tonnes per annum line. Now we are here at Auchi and what we have here is a 60,000 metric tonne fertilizer plant.
This state-owned fertilizer plant has been recently rehabilitated, as a Public-Private Partnership. The clear objective of establishing the plant is to boost farming activities and the agric value chain nationwide. This investment is a direct response to the Federal Government's strategy of growing the Nigerian economy on a zero oil assumption.
Agriculture is that well-known, but abandoned pathway to our economic diversification and national prosperity. The fundamental constraint to optimizing agriculture is access to inputs, fertilizer being a fundamental input. On the average, a Nigerian farmer uses 13kg per hectare of fertilizer compared with world average of 100kg per hectare.
This explains why Mr. President negotiated the December 2016 Fertilizer initiative, working with the Moroccan King, aimed at achieving local production of 1 million metric tons of NPK fertilizer for 2017 wet season farming. Reducing costs and delivering finished products at N5000-5500 per bag (formerly between N8-9,000 sometimes N13,000).
This, again, is an enterprise that will create at least 500 direct jobs and several more indirect jobs. It will bring us closer to self-sufficiency in fertilizer production and, perhaps most importantly, boost food production and reduce food prices, ultimately enhancing food security in Nigeria.
To the extent that it makes import unnecessary, this plant will also help us to conserve our hard earned foreign exchange. And to crown it all, I am happy to learn of the plan for a gradual extension of this project so as to steadily boost its output.
I am informed that this is an integral part of His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki’s plan to support and actualize the job creation and food security objectives of President Muhammadu Buhari especially the NPK fertilizer initiative.
I must therefore hasten to congratulate the dynamic and far-sighted Governor, as well as the great people of Edo State, on this great achievement. Not only will this boost the local economy, it will also impact the national economy in a significant way. It is therefore a gift from Edo State to our great country.
As you are all well aware, the Buhari administration takes private enterprise very seriously. We believe that government resources cannot bring about the rapid roll out we need, especially in the areas of infrastructure and industrial development.
It is the private sector that can do so. We are therefore committed to making it easy for businessmen to invest and do business everywhere in Nigeria.
This accounts for the Presidential Enabling Business Council set up by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, the work of which was fortified by the Executive Order No. 1, which I executed on May 18, 2017, on the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment and facilitation of the ease of doing business.
This efficiency and transparency drive is not a challenge to the Federal Government and its officials alone.
Every State and Local Government must be involved in the effort to ensure that private businesses thrive and create employment opportunity for our growing youth population.
By harnessing private capital and the great entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians, I believe we can seriously leverage government resources and accelerate economic development.
Let me therefore commend the Edo State Government for this partnership with WACOT, already well known Afro processing company. Barely 3 weeks ago, I was in their rice milling plant in Kebbi State.
Your Excellency, I am therefore very happy to commission this plant, which will further assist us to realise our potentials in this area.
To the Glory of God and for the benefit of humanity, it is my singular honour to commission this fertilizer plant.