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Buhari vows to make Nigeria leading Sugar producer, approves US$73m, 10,000 hectares

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President Muhammadu Buhari commenced the week under review with the inauguration of a US$ 73 million intervention fund for irrigation, to boost the Sugar backward integration programme aimed at making Nigeria a leading sugar-producing country in Africa.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that to actualise this dream, an agreement between the federal government and the operators of the Sugar backward integration programme was also signed on Dec. 21, 2021, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, who represented President Buhari, said: “This morning I represented the President at the formal commissioning of the Presidential project on irrigation infrastructure.

“The intervention is the setting up of a US$73 million intervention fund for irrigation, for operators of the Sugar backward Intervention Programme.

“The goal is to support the development of irrigation infrastructure on 10,000 hectares of sugar plantations located in six sites in Numan (Adamawa State), Sumti (Niger State), Lafiagi (Kwara), Bacita (Kwara) as well as in Toto and Tunga, both in Nasarawa state.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria is also involved in the provision of the required funding for the project as well.”

According to Adebayo, the aim of the programme is to increase Nigeria’s sugar yield, in line with its quest of becoming self-sufficient in Sugar production.

“The aim is to increase significantly the sugar yield so that we can work within the National Sugar Development master plan, with a view to Nigeria becoming self-sufficient in sugar production and possibly becoming a net exporter of sugar.’’

Also speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr Zacch Adedeji, said the intervention is part of the government’s determination to provide an enabling environment for private investments to thrive and flourish in the country.

He said: “Preliminary activities, including identification of the specific project sites for each operator, include a framework for design and engineering services for the in-field and bulk water supply systems, project management and maintenance specifications.

“In addition to the adoption of a business model and costing, among others, it was concluded long before the formal commissioning of this laudable initiative.’’

The Presidency also inaugurated an IT training Centre to be facilitated by the Internet giant, Galaxy Backbone.

The Centre, located within the State House Auditorium, was built with a robust Internet Connectivity to assist the staff in modernising their work processes.

Inaugurating the project on Tuesday, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, commended the authorities for facilitating the establishment of the Centre, adding that the project would add to the digital skills of the State House staff.

She warned that the country’s civil service is transiting and staff members who failed to avail themselves with digital skills would be left behind.

The Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi, also on Dec. 21, met behind closed doors with President Buhari, where he lauded him on behalf of his colleagues, for addressing economic challenges facing State Governments through the provision of financial assistance.

He expressed grief over the heart-wrenching murder of 45 farmers and scores injured following renewed hostilities in Lafia, Obi and Awe Local Government Areas of Nasarawa State.

President Buhari also commiserated with the government and people of Abia as well as the Nigeria Union Journalists (NUJ) on the passing of a former national president of the union, Mr Bonnie Nwoha, in the week under review.

Buhari said the sympathies of the entire nation were with the affected families.

On Dec. 22, President Buhari met behind closed door with Gov. Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

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