The federal government is on course to achieve Nigeria’s quest for self-sufficiency in cement production and export, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said last week Tuesday.
The vice president was speaking at the unveiling of the $1billion Obu cement factory at Okpella in Edo State.
He also performed the ground breaking of the second phase of the three million metric tonnes per annum capacity cement factory owned by the BUA Group, one of Nigeria’s largest indigenous conglomerates.
“I am extremely proud to be a Nigerian, and I’m sure several of us here are. This factory is a wholly Nigerian-owned enterprise. We know the planning, execution and successful establishment of this industrial complex was done by a Nigerian and by a Nigerian team.
“The construction of this plant is of course, a big boost to the Nigerian economy. It will provide thousands of direct jobs and indirect jobs, both for skilled and unskilled workers, from the commencement of the construction of the plant to the smooth-running of the operation processes,” he said.
He commended the Chairman of BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu, and the staff for the achievement, saying the plant would help consolidate government’s efforts toward achieving Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in cement production and a boost to the nation’s export capacity.
He said Mr. Rabiu was “numbered among individuals in Nigeria properly described as entrepreneurs, or men and women running true, value adding, job creating enterprises, using local resources and talents to create value and wealth for the country.”
Mr. Osinbajo said he was happy BUA Group used the efficient fuel from the gas turbines to construct a power generation facility for the cement plant.
The power plant, he noted, combines low value-cost, with a very high degree of reliability in its operations.
“The whole enterprise typifies the expectations of the present administration through the economic and growth recovery plans unveiled by the President on April 5, 2017,” he noted.
During the launch of the plant, he said President Muhammadu Buhari emphasised the need for Nigeria’s economic emancipation and growth to be private sector-led.
He reiterated the administration’s determination to continue providing the enabling business environment, while directly assisting the private sector to contribute to the growth of the country’s economy.
The present administration, he said, was working with the Industrial Policy Council to evolve and implement solutions to business impediments and economic stagnation in the country.
The Chairman/Chief Executive, BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu, said the complex comprised the first production line of the BUA Cement, Obu plant and the second line of the same capacity.
Mr. Rabiu described the ceremony as an important milestone for BUA Group, the Cement industry and the Nigeria economy, as they would not only make the country self-sufficient in cement production, but also a net exporter of the commodity.
He said the construction of the second phase of the cement plant was an indication of the success story and efficiency of the Obu cement plant.
The facility, he said, attained over 90 per cent of its capacity utilisation in the first year of operation.
“This marks an important milestone, not only for the BUA Group, but also for the Nigerian cement industry and the Nigerian economy in general.
“We are witnessing the official commissioning of one of the best cement plants anywhere in the world engineered to be the most environmentally friendly cement plant in Africa, with the most advanced duct emission systems.
“We also use natural gas, which is a very clean energy for both our kiln as well as the power plant, in addition to having a very green environment”, he said.
He announced that BUA Group was starting the construction of another greenfield cement plant in Sokoto State with an annual capacity of about 1.5 million tonnes valued at over $300 million, to be commissioned in 2018.
Besides, he said, company’s investments in the two cement plants in Edo State represented the largest non-oil and gas related investment in the whole of the South-South region of Nigeria.
He said with these investments, BUA Group would have invested over $2 billion in the Nigerian cement industry, with capacities in excess of over 12 million tonnes per annum within the course of a decade.
“Our confidence to commit so much resources is as a result of our conviction that the over 10 years Nigerian integrated cement manufacturing policy has transformed the country’s cement industry. This is a signal Nigeria is closely attaining self-sufficiency in cement production and net exportation,” he said.
Apart from the plants, Mr. Rabiu said the company also built a 31-kilometre gas pipeline to the plant as well as installed over 50-megawatts power plant by Siemens for the complex.
The ceremony was witnessed by the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, along with his counterpart from Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, and his predecessor in office, Adams Oshiomhole.
Also present were Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah; of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, and Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi II.
In his remark, Governor Obaseki lauded the entrepreneurial spirits of BUA Group for reinvesting in the plant.
He said by the time the second production line would be completed, the company would emerge as one the leading investors in cement production in the country.