From Uche Usim, Awe, Nasarawa
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, on Thursday disclosed that wheat and sugar would soon be added to the foreign exchange (forex) import exclusion list in line with government’s effort to conserve forex and promoting local production that will ultimately lead to job creation. Emefiele’s position is coming on the heels of commendations for the President of Dangote Group, Mr Aliko Dangote, over his $500 million sugar plantation project, which sits atop a 60,000 hectares of land in Awe, Nasarawa State.
Speaking after visiting the plantation in company of the Nasarawa State Governor, Mr Abdullahi Sule, and Dangote, Emefiele said the project was consistent with government’s backward integration blueprint in producing various consumables in-the country.
According to him, the government can no longer spend about $1 billion annually on sugar importation, when the commodity can be grown in the country.
He said: “Visiting a site like this with 60,000 hectares of land, we can say it’s a very big project. It’s incomparable to any one we’ve seen. This one is four to five times bigger than a sugar project in Sunti, Niger State, commisioned about two years ago.
“It’s important we thank the state government for providing the land. By the time this factory kicks off, it’ll create jobs for the people of the state and increase their revenue. It’s going to improve the economic viability of the state. “In line with the pronouncement of Mr President that we should produce what we eat, we are saying that Nigeria can produce sugar and be self sufficient in food production. This is something that we should support. That is the reason we’ve decided to give credence to the backward integration projects of the Federal Government.
“We’ve seen that this location is well suited for the project and some of the equipment are already here. We will provide not only the naira or some of the naira because Dangote is a big man and has equity he’s contributing to the project, we will provide the forex.”