THE federal government has inaugurated a N45 billion integrated sugar project in Sunti, Niger State. The project owned by Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, and comprising a 16,500-hectare sugar cane estate and mill, is part of the ministry of industry, trade and investment’s approved Backward Integration Programme for the production of local sugar in line with the provisions of the National Sugar Master Plan.
On Tuesday, December 9, Olusegun Aganga, minister of industry, trade and investment, said: “Today is another historic day as it represents another milestone in the implementation of the National Sugar Master Plan, an integral part of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, which was launched by our President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in line with his Transformation Agenda. As part of the Nigeria Industry Revolution Plan, NIRP, we have developed the National Sugar Master Plan as one of the sector-specific policies to diversify the Nigerian economy because we were importing about 97 per cent of the sugar we consume in this country when we can produce sugar from sugar cane. Also, from the raw materials of producing sugar, we can generate electricity, produce ethanol and animal feeds.”
Aganga, who expressed satisfaction with the current level of implementation of the new Sugar Master Plan, said the country was on course towards achieving economic diversification, stressing that the federal government would continue to provide the conducive environment and right incentives to attract and sustain investments across the country. “In 2012, President Jonathan approved the National Sugar Master Plan because for a long time, we have relied heavily on exporting one commodity (crude oil) despite the fact that our country is blessed with about 84 million hectares of arable land. And for decades, we pursued a wrong policy of exporting crude oil and using the proceeds to buy back refined petroleum products and created jobs for other countries. The current decline in price of oil has reinforced the need for us as a country to take proactive steps to diversify our economy through industrialisation.
“Today, I have come to see the progress that Flour Mills has made in terms of adhering strictly to the Sugar Master Plan. Although I receive regular updates from the National Sugar Development Council and all the sugar companies, I still consider it very important to come to see things by myself; and I am satisfied with the level of investment and work that are going on here. Having gone round the multi-billion-naira facility, I can say that the company has fully embraced the new Sugar Master Plan and is fully implementing their Backward Integration Programme, BIP, as approved by my ministry. One striking thing about the company’s BIP is that they are doing the sugar cane plantation side by side with rice production, thereby, keying into commodity-based industrialisation and import-substitution.
“This is in line with Federal Government’s strategies for diversifying our nation’s economy, and we are on course towards achieving that. We will continue to provide the conducive environment and right incentives to attract and sustain more investments across all sectors of the Nigerian economy.”
So far the company has invested N16 billion while the entire project is expected to be completed and inaugurated before the end of 2016. When completed, the project is expected to produce 100,000 metric tons of sugar annually, create 15,000 direct and indirect jobs, generate 10MW of electricity, produce animal feed and fertiliser as a by-product and save the country more than $50 million annually in foreign exchange.
Shareholders Chides SEC
THE Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, ISAN, has condemned the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, over non-inclusion of investors in its capital market committee, CMC. Adebayo Adeleke, general secretary, ISAN, said the committee may not achieve any meaningful result with the exclusion of shareholders and investors who are the fund providers in the capital market.
“Before MKO Abiola died, he said that of all professions in the world, he loves barbing because it is not possible to shave a man’s hair in his absence. So, it is only in Nigerian capital market that you have Capital Market Committee that does not include investors. That is the truth, and the investor is the provider of the capital and without it, you only have market without capital. We have a DG of SEC that in the past three years has met with shareholders two times and in less than two hours. In fact, one of them was so insulting, and before she could sit down, she said I’ve got a flight to catch and off she went. What kind of insult is that? Last week, Monday, she called us to Abuja and she wasn’t there.
“It is only in Nigeria that you have a DG of SEC who is supposed to be by partisan attending a political party rally. So, when you say ‘oh these guys are making a lot of noise’ look at what they are saying, are they making sense? Because the way we are looking at it from the inside, other people are also looking at it from outside. You just have to look at your market and say, ‘are these people serious,’ because these things are not peculiar to our nation, there are other capital market platforms and regulators all over the world,” he said.
Adeleke also blamed the SEC over multiplicity of shareholders association, saying that Arunma Oteh, SEC, director general, seeks to destabilise activism among shareholders’ group and also remain in control of the various associations by sponsoring break away groups. He also cautioned Oteh over any involvement in partisan politics, saying that such involvement was not to the best interest of the market.
But he said there is nothing wrong with having multiple shareholders’ association since the constitution allows freedom of association. “So, the same way you have multiplicity of political parties and newspaper houses, is the same way you have shareholders’ association. Because the SEC did not define the composition, it could be me, my wife and dog Nigeria association; it is a constitutional issue.
“Let me say this, SEC has been in the fore-front of not only recognising these associations, but encouraging them. They think that by playing ‘divide and rule’, they can get at the major or the big shareholders’ associations, so they call them often to Abuja to do what? I don’t know. But I will tell you something, SEC is doing that because they also want to control or let me use the word, regulate shareholders’ association. That is not within their purview, absolutely and because the major shareholders who have been there all this while, we tell them, ‘you can’t do that, we will not agree. So they are beginning to sponsor minority break away factions, telling them ‘look, if you come, we can do this together. But I have told them, soldier go, soldier come, barrack remains. So, as far as we are concerned, we are not bordered about that.”
Adeleke, however, blamed the multiplicity of shareholders’ association on unemployment level in the country and dubiousness of company’s management. “Quite a lot of our companies are culpable, if you don’t have something to hide; I don’t see how one man riot squad will hold you to ransom. You don’t see them around the corridors of multinationals that don’t give out money,” he said.
— Dec. 22, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT