Kingsley Alu, Abuja
The executive secretary of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) Mr Zacch Adedeji has said the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) roadmap designed for the nation’s sugar industry, which is a major component of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) has the capacity to tackle soaring unemployment level and also address other socio-economic issues currently bedeviling the country.
Adedeji, who said this while on a familiarisation visit to sugar refineries in Lagos State, linked violent crimes and insecurity to rising unemployment and joblessness amongst the youths 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.
He said, “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, but charged them 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-sufficiency in sugar production.
“The federal government is serious and determined to realise 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 said, “Only 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 is clearly an indication that government cannot continue to expend its scarce forex on things that we have all it takes to produce locally.’’