The Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council, Mr. Zacch Adedeji has said that the Backward Integration Programme roadmap designed for the nation’s sugar industry, which is a major component of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan has the capacity to tackle soaring unemployment level and, also address other socio-economic issues currently bedevilling the country.
Adedeji who said this while on a familiarization visit to sugar refineries in Lagos state, linked violent crimes and insecurity to rising unemployment rate among the youth in the country, noting that the sugar sector as presently structured has what it takes to provide direct and indirect jobs for millions of Nigerians both as skilled and unskilled workers.
“The sugar sector is a goldmine that holds numerous potentials and opportunities for Nigeria and Nigerians.
“It is a sector that has provided direct and indirect jobs for thousands of our citizens across disciplines and professions. We are all concerned about the need to provide job opportunities for our people, especially our youths.
“Unemployment is a major contributor to the various social crises facing us today as a country.
“This is why the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is committed to revamping the sugar industry to enable it absorb our citizens and contribute meaningful to the economy and the country in general.”
Adedeji who assured investors in the sector of government’s support, in terms of policy and technical assistance, said Nigeria has done well in the refining of raw sugar.
He, however, charged investors to redouble their efforts especially as it relates to the faithful implementation of the Backward Integration Programme for the sugar industry which is crucial to Nigeria’s quest to attain self-sufficeincy in sugar production.
“The Federal Government is serious and determined to realize it’s objectives as far as the sugar sector is concerned.
“We hope to be the largest exporter of sugar in Africa in the nearest future. To achieve this lofty goal, we must all roll up our sleeves and accord priority to our backward integration programme which is the bedrock of our mission as an agency of government,” he added.
He recalled that recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria said it would soon begin to restrict access to foreign exchange to producers of some commodities in the country, including sugar.
This, he noted, is clearly an indication that government cannot continue to expend its scarce forex on things that could be produced locally.
He added, “Let’s take this as a challenge and work towards ensuring that the BIP policy succeeds for the benefit our dear country.
“It bears restating that we must be ready to take actions that will make Nigeria a net exporter of sugar thereby saving scarce forex for other purposes.
“Let us integrate all that we are doing to a workable and implementable agenda for the smooth operation of the sector”.
The familiarization visit by the new Executive Secretary of NSDC to sugar refineries in Lagos is to enable him assses the level of compliance with regards to the implementation of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan especially as it pertains to the Backward Integration Programme undertaken by the trio of Dangote Sugar Refinery, BUA Sugar Refinery and Golden Sugar.