Nigeria lauds private sector for supporting economic diversification

Cyril Okonkwo

Nigeria’s Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has commended the private sector for its critical role in re-positioning Nigeria’s economy.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said this when he commissioned the N10billion WACOT Rice Mill in Argungu, Kebbi State, North West Nigeria.

The mill has the capacity for processing 120 million metric tonnes of rice paddy annually.
Speaking at the commissioning of the mill, Pofessor Osinbajo said the project underscores the policy of the Nigerian government that the private would drive the growth of the economy.

But the private sector being the engine of development is not just the private sector leading growth. Growth must be growth with jobs it cannot be jobless growth,” explaining that “one of the critical things we are seeing today especially with the development of agriculture is that this is growth with jobs.”

He said the growth required to drive the economy was the kind exemplified by the rice mill which projects that over 50, 000 people would be employed in the next few years.

That is the growth we want to see; that is the kind of the private-sector led growth we want to see,” he stated.

Professor Osinbajo said the rice mill was in line with the principle that President Buhari laid out in his budget speech of 2016 when he said that Nigerians must grow what they eat and must consume what they make.

He said: “It is up to us grow what we eat. It is up to us to ensure that the arable land, the vast arable land of this nation is turned to real wealth for our people and for export. So, this is a very important project because it underscores that principle that Nigeria is capable of everything that it needs and more than enough to produce even for our region.”

Osinbajo said the investment in the mill, which is in the order of about N10billion, made within the past 12 months, was evidence of the fact that Nigeria’s economy was moving on the right direction.

He said: “You can be sure that the private sector does not invest if it does not see an opportunity. It is the investment by people who are saying we understand the trajectory of this economy; we know where this economy is headed. And this is a vote of confidence in the economy of Nigeria.”

The acting president said one of the reasons that President Buhari launched the Anchors’ Borrowers’ Programme first in Kogi State in November 2015 was to grow large numbers of farmers and assist them to move from subsistence farming to “real productive farming.”

I think that he’s been justified because already we are seeing more and more Nigerians going into farming, more and more Nigerians farming and more and more Nigerians.”

Speaking at the event, Governor Abubabar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State said that people are investing in agriculture.

He said yields have increased following the agricultural policies of the federal government.
Earlier, the Managing Director of the WACOT Rice Mill, Rahul Savara, said the company participates in the “entire rice value chain from seed multiplication, improving, improving farming practices to processing, branding and distribution of rice.”

He said the company was also building the capacity of farmers through farmer business schools.

Among notable personalities that were at the event were the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III.