By Babajide Okeowo
It was an elated President Muhammadu Buhari that paid a visit to Sokoto State on Thursday to commission a cement plant by manufacturing company, BUA Group.
The President, hosted by Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, at the event inaugurated the three million metric tonnes per annum plant and 48 Megawatts power plant.
An excited President Buhari lauded the company for believing in Nigeria and being the largest employer of labour in the northwest region of the country.
The President also expressed delight that the Federal Government policies on economic diversification, job creation, and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive are working. He pledged that his administration would continue to support serious investors to set up businesses that will take advantage of huge reserves of resources in different parts of the country.
He recounted that in 1985 as the then Head of State, he was at the same location to commission the 2nd line of the facility.
“Today, almost thirty-seven years later, to commission the fourth line is a very special day for me personally.
“As you all know, one of the key economic pillars of our administration has been to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. This is necessary for job creation and indeed, for our economy and national security.
“In the past few weeks, I visited Ogun and Kaduna States where I observed many private sector investments in action. And today, I am here in Sokoto to commission this multi-billion Naira project.
“It is therefore very clear for all to see that our policies are working. Progress is gradually being made in all parts of the country,” he said.
The President thanked the Founder of BUA Cement, Abdul Samad Rabiu, and the entire team for the great work they are doing in supporting the government’s economic diversification and job creation agenda.
He noted the company, which has completed four new cement plants of similar capacity in the last five years in different parts of the country and is set to complete two more plants soon, had shown through these investments that they believe in Nigeria and its potential.
Commending BUA and other entrepreneurs for making Nigeria self-sufficient in cement and a net exporter of the strategic product, the President said: ”I am pleased that through these investments, BUA Cement has created employment opportunities for our citizens. Today, BUA is the largest employer of labour in the North-West region.
“I always remind Nigerians that every region, indeed every State, in Nigeria sits on huge reserves of resources. For example, in this area, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara can boast of rice production, gold and other precious metals development and of course, heavy industries like cement manufacturing.
“As a government, we introduced policies and mechanisms to support such investments in a legal, ethical and inclusive manner.
“We remain prepared to support serious investors to set up businesses that will take advantage of these opportunities through value addition so as to take advantage of the huge market here, as well as in the greater African region and the world at large,” President Buhari said.
Highlighting other efforts to bring even development to all parts of the country, the President expressed confidence that the Ajaokuta–Kaduna–Kano (AKK) gas project, when completed, will bring gas for domestic and industrial purposes from the South South region to the South East, North Central and North West Geopolitical zones.
He said the AKK project would significantly reduce cost of operations for industries in the regions.
On security, President Buhari reiterated his commitment to bring peace and stability to all parts of Nigeria, listing a raft of measures undertaken by this administration to ensure that normalcy returns to the country.
Abdul Samad Rabiu, Chairman, BUA Cement, who commended the President for creating the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, acknowledged the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its Governor in setting up the gigantic project.
He announced that “so far, we have invested over a billion dollars in the past four years and we urge the CBN to continue to support industries like ours that use locally sourced raw materials to add value.”
He pledged that BUA would continue to invest more in the cement industry until Nigeria is self-sufficient and the commodity is made available, accessible, and affordable for all Nigerians.
“In the past 6 years, we have completed 4 plants – two in Obu, Edo State and two in Sokoto (of which this Sokoto line 4 is the fourth) with BUA’s total production capacity now standing at 11.5million tonnes with the completion of this plant.
“Next year, we intend to complete the construction of two new plants of 3 million metric tonnes each for which construction is ongoing – one in Edo and the other, here in Sokoto.”
The Chairman of BUA said he looked forward to President Buhari commissioning these plants next year which will bring total production capacity to 17.5million metric tonnes.
Dignitaries at the event include the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’adu Abubakar; the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele; Chairman BUA Group, Abdul Samad Rabiu, among others.
BUA Chairman, who according to Forbes is the fifth richest man in Africa, appreciated the President for his presence at the event.
He explained that 95% of the materials used in production in the company are locally sourced.