The Executive Secretary of National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Zacch Adedeji, has disclosed that the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) roadmap of the Council will address the soaring unemployment level and other socio-economic issues bedeviling the country.
The BIP roadmap, which is designed for the nation’s sugar industry, is a major component of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).
Mr. Adedeji, who made this known while on a familiarization visit to sugar refineries in Lagos State, 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 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 desirous and committed to revamping the sugar industry to enable it to 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, and however 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.
“The Federal Government is serious and determined to realize 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,” he said.
He added, “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 the government cannot continue to expend its scarce foreign exchange on things that we have all it takes to produce locally. Let’s take this as a challenge and work towards ensuring that the BIP policy succeeds for the benefit of 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 the 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 assess the level of compliance with regards to the implementation of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan especially as it pertains to the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) undertaken by the trio of Dangote Sugar Refinery, BUA Sugar Refinery and Golden Sugar.