Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State is blazing a trail with resuscitation of moribund and dead government-owned industries in the state, starting with Edo State Fertilizer and Chemical Company. PATRICK OCHOGA, writes
Tuesday, September 5, 2015, it was cheery news in Edo State following the grand commissioning Edo State Fertilizer and Chemical Company and Bua Cement Company by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in Auchi, Etsako West local government area and Okpella, Etsako East local government area respectively both are multi-billion naira industries.
The landmark occasion signposted the commitment of the Godwin Obaseki-led administration in ensuring that dead and moribund industries in the state resurrect to life from their ashes.
Therefore, it was no surprise particularly at the commissioning site of the Edo Fertilizer Plant which had attracted personalities irrespective of political lining who witnessed the operation of the plant for the first time in 14 years shortly after it was commissioned by former President Olusegun Obasanjo when former Governor Lucky Igbinedion held sway without functioning.
The official take off of the fertilizer plant is line with Obaseki’s avowed commitment to better the lives of Edo people through policies that would jumpstart the local the economy of the state.
The fertilizer plant according to the governor is capable of creating over 500 direct and indirect jobs with the production of 60,000 metric tonnes per annum of fertilizers in addition to alleviating farmer’s challenges in procuring the products for their crops adding that the plant is the only fertilizer chemical plant in the region.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who led other top government functionaries to the event was accompanied by the ministers of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh; and Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, commended the foresight of Mr Obaseki, for creating the enabling business environment which saw to the revitalization of the fertilizer plant which had been non-functional for about 14 years.
Osinbajo at the event expressed delight at the 500 direct jobs that would be created by the investment, noting that much more employment opportunities would result from the ancillary economic activities that would be generated by the fertilizer plant.
Commending the governor for having the right attitude to development, he called on leaders across the country in different areas to dedicate themselves to activities that will improve the lot of their people.
“The President Buhari administration is committed to making it easy for investors to do business in the country. We want to achieve this through the promotion of transparency and efficiency. We want every state to be involved in this drive and create the enabling environment for business to thrive in their domain,” Osinbajo said.
The vice president said the revitalization of fertilizer blending plants across the country was the direct consequence of the presidential initiative to diversify the economy from crude oil, boost farming activities as well as develop the agriculture value chain.
He added that agricultural activities in the country could be enhanced significantly if there was improved access to input, hence the drive to make fertilizer which is a major farm input, easily available and accessible to farmers in Nigeria.
Osinbajo explained that the blending plant would also complement Governor Obaseki’s agricultural development initiative which is aimed at improving investment in agriculture via public, private partnership as well as creating jobs for youths across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Governor Obaseki observed that the commissioning of the fertilizer plant signified a milestone in his administration as the facility was never operated for a day after it was fraudulently commission by Igbinedion’s government about 14 years ago.
He said what his predecessors could not do for nearly two decades, his government, with the support of Edo people, did in only about nine months.
He said: “The aim of revitalizing this plant is to make the state self-sufficient in food production and enable farmers get fertilizer at affordable prices. We in Edo State are determined to make food available in the country.”
He added the facility would go a long way in providing fertilizer for neighbouring states such as Kogi, Delta, Ondo and Anambra among others as it was the only blending plant in the region.
Obaseki commended the leadership role played by the federal government in the execution of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative as well as the management of WACOT for partnering with the Edo State government in revamping the plant.
“This achievement is an open call to other investors to bring in new technology, create more jobs and expand our economic opportunities,” he said.
The governor called on the Otaru of Auchi, the community where the plant is located, to ensure the protection of the facility against vandalism as it creates a large range of opportunities for businesses in the community and the state.
The group managing director of WACOT, Mr. Rahul Savara, commended the vice president for commissioning the plant and Governor Obaseki for fostering the partnership between the state and his company.
He said the presidential fertilizer initiative has made local production feasible and sustainable in the country, assuring that the Edo Fertilizer and Chemical Company would be made up of 95 per cent indigenous workers.
Similarly, the same feeling of joy and excitement pervaded the sleepy Okpella Community as the residents rolled out drums in jubilation when the vice president inaugurated the Bua’s Obu Green Field three million metric tonnes per annum cement plant in the community.
Osibanjo, who also performed the symbolic ground breaking of the Obu Second Line Green Field three million metric tonnes per annum, pledged that the federal government would remove all inhibitions to encourage investors.
While commending management of Bua company for the achievement, Osibanjo said “I am proud to be a Nigerian. I am also proud to be associated with this wholly Nigerian enterprise, planned and executed by a Nigerian team. I am happy to say that this project is a big boost to the Nigerian economy and the opportunity it will provide for both skilled and unskilled youths of this state and the country at large,’’ he said.
Osinbajo noted that the plant’s capacity output would guarantee self-sufficiency of cement production for the nation, especially “when Bua group is using modern and efficient facilities with local materials.
“We will continue to create the enabling business environment and will directly assist the private sector to grow which will in turn grow the Nigerian economy,’’ he said.
Obaseki on part thanked the management of the company for taking the bold steps in 2015, to initiate the process of establishing the plant adding that the management had made success of the company, including completely turning around the acquired moribund Edo Cement Factory.
He said the vision and mission of the company were in line with the state government’s economic reform agenda, adding that “the state government is ready to make Edo an industrial haven with friendly tax policies.’’
Chairman and CEO of Bua company, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu, said the vision of the company was to provide Nigerians with the best quality cement using the best technology and best hands at the most affordable price.
Rabiu said the choice to site the plant at Okpella, in Estako East local government area of the state, was strategic, saying that “this community has the best limestone in the whole of the country.’’
He said on completion of the second line in the first quarter of 2018, “it is expected to take our production capacity to six million metric tonnes per annum.
“Right now, the Obu Plant is one of the many cement projects we are doing in Nigeria. It is a modern plant with up-to-date facilities. It is technologically advanced and at the end of the construction period, we will be producing additional three million metric tonnes of cement per annum.
“The Obu Cement Plant is located in Edo State and has a nice geographical area. The location is very good, being in the Mid-west and it is very close to the cement market in the north, with excellent road networks in the South-west and to the East. So this place is at a strategic location to adequately distribute cement all over Nigeria,’’ he added.
Rabiu said on completion of the second line being handled by SINOMA CBMI of China, “we will be producing 42.5 cement grades while the Obu Plant will produce any kind of cement that is allowed by the Nigerian Industrial Standards.’’
He expressed confidence that SINOMA with their track record and vast expertise in deploying cement plants across the world, “it will deliver a world-class second line for our Obu Cement Plant.
“It will also meet our stringent environmental, safety, quality and technical requirements for our plants and products,’’ he added.