From Okwe Obi, Abuja and Bianca Iboma-Emefu
National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) has said Nigeria will soon become the highest exporter of sugar in Africa, adding that the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) roadmap of the Council would address the soaring unemployment level and other socio-economic issues confronting the country.
NSDC Executive Secretary, Zacch Adedeji, explained that the BIP roadmap, which is designed for the nation’s sugar industry, is a major component of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).
Adedeji made this known recently while on a familiarisation visit to sugar refineries in Lagos State.
In a statement by the Deputy Director, Ahmed Waziri, yesterday, in Abuja, he linked violent crimes and insecurity to rising unemployment and joblessness amongst the youths in the country.
He noted 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 Federal Government is serious and determined to realise its 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.
“The sugar sector is a gold mine that holds numerous potential 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 desirous and committed to revamping the sugar industry to enable it absorb our citizens and contribute meaningfully to the economy and the country in general,” Adedeji stated.
The NSDC boss assured investors in the sugar sector of government’s support. In terms of policy and technical assistance, he urged them to redouble their efforts in the faithful implementation of the BIP for the sugar industry which, he stated, is crucial to Nigeria’s quest to attain self-sufficiency in sugar production.
“Only recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)said it would soon begin to restrict access to foreign exchange (forex) to producers of some commodities in the country, including sugar.
“This is clearly an indication that the government cannot continue to expend its scarce forex on things that we have all it takes to produce locally.