President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday predicted agriculture and economic boom following the coming on stream of the $2.5 billion Dangote Fertiliser Plant in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos.
He spoke while inaugurating the plant – the world’s second-largest – with an installed capacity of producing three million metric tonnes (mt) of urea yearly.
He noted that with the plant already exporting fertiliser to the United States of America (USA), India and Brazil, among other countries, it is expected to trigger huge job creation opportunities, wealth, and secure the country’s agricultural future.
The plant, situated on 500 hectares of land in the Lekki Free Trade Zone, is reputed as Africa’s largest Granulated Urea Fertiliser complex and expected to add well over $400 million in foreign exchange to the Nigerian economy from the exportation of the products to other African countries.
Buhari noted that the plant would result in Nigeria becoming self-sufficient in fertiliser production.
He said: “The fertiliser plant we are commissioning today has the capacity to provide multiplier effects on our economy, including job creation, which is a key goal of my administration.
“The nation also stands to gain extensively in earnings of foreign exchange from the excess production of the plant. I am informed that we have already started exporting to USA, Brazil and India.
“The coming on stream of the plant is creating huge opportunities in the areas of employment, trade, warehousing, transport and logistics. This will drastically create wealth, reduce poverty and secure the future of our nation.
“In the agricultural sector, another focal point of our economic policy, we expect a boom as fertiliser is now readily available.
“Many Nigerians who hitherto practised subsistence farming because of the non-availability of necessary inputs can now take up agriculture as a business.
“We expect a rise of a new breed of agropreneurs who will add value to farming, and make the nation self-sufficient in food production.”
The President noted that along with several other subsidiaries, the Dangote Group is the second biggest employer of labour in the country, after the Federal Government.
He praised the President and CEO of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, for helping to rebrand Nigeria through his investments across Africa.
“He (Dangote) has fueled job-led growth and transformation of several African economies. I am proud of his contribution to affirming Nigeria’s leadership status in the continent,” Buhari added, before leaving to inspect the Dangote 650,000 barrels per day Refinery and 900,000 tons per annum Petrochemical complex.
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Emefiele described the commissioning as an “emotional” one for himself and the bank.
He added: “I am delighted, extremely elated indeed that a Nigerian in the person of Alhaji Aliko Dangote has taken not just this great initiative of helping to solve a perennial petrochemical imports problem, but has taken advantage of the emerging huge market opportunity presented by recent developments.”
Emefiele described the event as a “stellar” realisation of President Buhari’s vision and timely in the light of the war in Europe.
He added: “This fertiliser plant is timely when one considers recent developments in global markets where prices of wheat, fertiliser and crude oil spiked by over 30 per cent following the Russia -Ukraine war, in addition to the lessons we learned from the protectionist actions of countries during the early days of Covid-19.”
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) was conceived by former Governor Bola Tinubu in 2003 to attract investments to the state.
He said the LFTZ also hosts the 650,000BPD Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Plant and the Lekki Deep Sea Port within the same axis, making it a prime investment destination.
Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment Niyi Adebayo noted that although the fertiliser complex is just one part of the Dangote Refinery project, “this part alone offers unquantifiable value” to the economy.
Adebayo said: “I am aware that this facility has the potential to produce 3 million metric jobs per annum of urea fertiliser in phase one alone.
“This will go a long way in bridging the current fertilizer gap and improving soil and farm yields.
“One of the Federal Government’s key ambitions is for Nigeria to be both self-sufficient in food production, and also to be a net exporter of food and value-added products. The Dangote Fertilizer Plant goes a long way in realising this vision not just for Nigeria, but for the entire continent.
“Dangote fertilizer has the potential to meet not just Nigeria’s needs, but at its current capacity, it will earn the country millions of dollars from exports. It will also help with the unemployment problem our country is currently faced with.”
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, also lauded Dangote for the project.
Dangote said the fertiliser plant would drastically reduce the level of unemployment and youth restiveness through the generation of direct and indirect employment.
He said: “Agriculture accounts for over 20 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, and the country is a leading producer of various agricultural commodities.
“The sector has the potential of becoming the biggest source of income for our nation, providing employment and raw materials for industries.
“However, low fertiliser usage has been a major reason for low productivity in the sector.
“It is common knowledge that non-availability of the product, in quantity and quality, rather than affordability, is the primary constraint to the use of fertiliser.
“Our goal is to make fertiliser available in sufficient quantities and quality for our teeming farmers, assuring farmers of greater agricultural output.”