Our job creation, economic policies working – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated a new three million metric tonnes per annum BUA Cement Sokoto Line 4 Factory in Sokoto, expressing delight that the federal government’s policies on economic diversification, job creation and an enabling environment for businesses to thrive were working.

Speaking Thursday at the inauguration of the plant described as the largest private sector employer of labour in the North-west part of Nigeria, the president pledged that his administration would continue to support serious investors to set up businesses that would take advantage of huge reserves of resources in different parts of the country.

He recalled 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. President Buhari thanked the Founder of BUA Cement, Abdul Samad Rabiu and the entire team for the great work they were doing in supporting the government’s economic diversification and job creation agenda.

He said the company, which has completed four new cement plants of similar capacity in the last five years in different parts of the country and set to complete two more plants soon, had shown through these investments that they believed 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.

”For example, we have the National Food Security Council on Food Security Matters and the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative to develop local artisanal gold mining and ensure health and safety of mining workers and protect the environment.

”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.”

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, would 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.

The president reassured Nigerians that his government would continue to invest heavily in roads and rails to ease movement of people, goods and services, with a view to facilitating trade while lowering logistics costs associated with the inefficiencies of bad roads and bridges.

On security, the president reiterated his commitment to bring peace and stability to all parts of Nigeria, listing a raft of measures undertaken by this administration to ensure normalcy returns to the country.

”We continue to recruit and equip security personnel while expanding our social investment programs to support the youth and some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

”You should all be reassured that we will win this battle against the criminal elements looking to destabilize our nation by hindering the progress of our economy.

”I want to now call on all entrepreneurs and businesses to emulate what is being done here. The task of nation building requires all hands to be on deck. The public and private sectors must collaborate if we are to achieve our aim of collective peace and prosperity across the entire nation,” he said.

Also speaking, Chairman of BUA Cement, Abdul Samad Rabiu, who commended President Buhari for creating the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, acknowledged the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its Governor, Godwin Emefiele, in setting up the gigantic project.

He said ”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 said 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,” he said.

Rabiu said he looked to President Buhari commissioning these plants next year, during which total production capacity would be 17.5million metric tonnes.

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