Osinbajo commission’s fertiliser plant, pledges govt’s commitment to private sector

L-R: Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and Deputy Governor Ipalibo Harry Banigo during an airport reception for the Acting President in Port Harcourt on Thursday.

The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday said that the Federal Government was unequivocally committed to the success of the private sector.

He made the remark during the formal release ceremony to discharge the Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited, IEPL, from the five-year monitoring programme of BPE in Eleme, Rivers.

He said the Federal Government had been focusing on improving significantly the business environment for small and large businesses.

According to him, last year, President Buhari established a Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), whose results are now starting to be felt across the country.

“The kind of economic growth and prosperity that we’re aiming for cannot happen without private capital.

“And that private capital cannot be unlocked without reforming the business environment by removing obstacles and roadblocks to investment and business operations,’’ he said.

Mr. Osinbajo noted that it was impossible for government to ever be able to provide all the capital needed to invest in infrastructure, or to catalyse economic activity.

He said that the best government could do was to put energy into acting as a catalyst and support private capital to achieve maximum impact in the economy.

“And this is the entire point of the privatisation programme in the first place – it is about getting government out of the way so that businesses can do what they need to do to create jobs and prosperity.

“I’m glad that we’re here today to see one of the success stories of the Federal Government’s privatisation programme.

“What Indorama is accomplishing today is very much in line with President Buhari’s vision for a country that produces what it consumes and grows what it eats.

“If you had to sum up our vision for the Nigerian economy in a few words, these would suffice: grow what we eat, produce what we consume,” he said.

Mr. Osinbajo said the President launched a Presidential Fertilizer Initiative in 2016, to ensure the availability of cheaper fertilizer to farmers, to support agriculture in the production of rice and wheat and other staples.

He said such initiative created significant economic opportunities for companies like IEPL which planned to supply about 360,000MT of Urea to fertilizer blenders.

The acting president said the blender would in turn produce NPK fertilizer for the benefit of farmers in the country.

He, however, explained that in 2006, 75 per cent of Eleme Petrochemical Limited’s equity was sold to Indorama Consortium Ltd in 2006 for 225 million dollars while 10 per cent was sold to the NNPC Pension Fund for $30 million.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports the company was handed over to its new owners on October 26, 2006.

In 2009, the National Council on Privatization (NCP) approved the sale of 7.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent of the remaining government’s 15 per cent reserved equity to the community and staff of the company respectively.

The balance of five per cent equity remained with the BPE on-behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The BPE since the handover in 2006 carried out routine monitoring on the enterprise to ensure that the core investor adhered to and implemented the laid out post-acquisition plan.

In his speech earlier, Sri Lohia, Chairman of IEPL, said the company was amongst few largest fertilizer plants in the world.

Lohia said that with the strength of the plant, Nigeria would be self-sufficient in fertilizer.

The chairman said that the plant apart from enhancing agriculture in the region would offer direct and indirect employment.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers commended the realization of the project. (NAN)


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