- Says will save govt about $88m annually used to import salt
- Approves extension of second phase of Sugar Master Plan by 10
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the sum of N580.5 million for the purchase of four armoured vehicles for use by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
According to the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who briefed State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, the decision to procure the armoured vehicles was taken to encourage and safeguard the lives of NDLEA personnel who have been working very hard with lots of results ot show for their effort.
He cited the recent feat by the agency when it busted a drug racket in Lagos, recovering N194 billion worth of cocain from an Ikorodu warehouse.
The AGF noted that the recent gains on the war on drugs would prompt reprisal attacks on NDLEA from drug barons, hence the need for the vehicles.
He said: “Today, a memo was presented by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, that is the Federal Ministry of Justice, which was relating to a parastatal under the supervision of the office of the Attorney General; the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
“The purpose of the memo was to seek approval of the council for the award of contract for the supply of four customised armoured security vehicles of 14 seater model for the NDLEA and the contract sum is N580,500,000 only inclusive of 7.5 percent value added tax with a delivery period of 16 weeks.”
“It is common knowledge that of recent the NDLEA has been repositioned and arising from the support both in terms of our capacity building, hardware and associated things, they have been recording an extra-ordinary or unprecedented success. Recently they seized about 1.8 tons of cocaine having a market value of about N194 billion.
“So, with all these successes recorded it is only logical that the criminals and their syndicate are now devising means inclusive of attacks on NDLEA personnel and it is with that in mind that the memo was presented for the procurement of such vehicles for the NDLEA and the council approved,” he added.
He also said the Nigerian government is very happy with the successes being recorded by the NDLEA whereby, between January and July 2022 the agency arrested 18,940 suspects with 2,904 convictions.
The Council also approved N1.8 million for the building of a retaining wall for a salt project in Ebonyi State.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, explained that the wall is to help protect the washing away of the salt, which occurs naturally.
He said the salt if fully tapped, can be exported to earn more revenue for the country.
“We came to council for an approval because there is an intervention; direct intervention by the President for a salt project in Ebonyi State. We import our salt form abroad spending annually in the region of about $88 million.
“Now by this project, it will mitigate that. It will not satisfy local demand but at least meet some of the local demand and save us the foreign exchange. “The salt is in Ebonyi State but it cannot be mined without this infrastructure that we are about to build.
“We are building a retaining wall because water comes in and washes the salt away every time. These are salt lakes that occur naturally. After the environmental impact assessment was done, the report suggested that we should build a retaining wall,” he said.
Adegbite added that the proposed wall would be 27 kilometres long and about 2.9 meters high and would be funded directly from the presidency, adding that the project will be achieved in six months.
The Council also approved the second phase of the National Sugar Master Plan, extending it by an additional 10 years.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo disclosed the information, while interacting with the media, where he noted that the first phase which was inugurated in 2012 expires by 2023, next year.
While stating that investments in national sugar policy was aimed at stimulating self sufficiency in the commodity, Adebayo said no fewer than 15,000 jobs have been created through key players in the industry.
The Minister listed Dangote, BUA, Golden Sugar mills among key stakeholders jointly owning about 200,000 hectares of sugarcane plantation in the country.
His words, “Today, my ministry brought a memo seeking Council’s approval for the second phase of the National Sugar Master Plan. In 2012, the first phase of the sugar master plan was approved lasting from 2012 to 2022.
“Today, Council approved the extension from 2023 to 2033. That’s for another 10 years. And the whole idea of the Sugar Master Plan is for the development of the sugar industry, in their self sufficiency in sugar production.
“The plan has several policy measures or fiscal incentives to stimulate demand and attract private sector investment in the sugar industry. And part of the benefits of the sugar master plan is the local production of sugar.
“We have under phase one, four major investors, investing in the industry. These are Dangote Sugar, BUA Sugar, Golden Sugar Company which is flour mill, Care Africa Group which bought the Baccita sugar mill.
“They have jointly created 15,000 jobs, and they have over almost about 200,000 hectares of land that has been acquired for the production of sugarcane to enable them produce sugar locally. So Council approved phase two of the National Sugar Master Plan”.