President Muhammadu Buhari Friday in Abuja said entrepreneurs and the business community, whose investments align with the priorities of the government in value and job creation, will continue receiving the full support of his administration, noting that the huge growth experienced by conglomerates like BUA Group is evidence of the correctness of government policies.
The President, who received the Management of BUA Group at the State House led by the Chairman, AbdulSamad Rabiu, said the government’s focus on import substitution to encourage local production and export stimulates growth and stability, urging investors to take advantage of the vision.
“Let me assure you and the entire business community that this government remains ready, willing and able to support all well-meaning Nigerian entrepreneurs whose investments align with our import substitution and domestic job creation policies and programs,’’ he said.
President Buhari commended the Chairman of BUA Group for concentrating investments in the country and transiting from trade to manufacturing.
“I am impressed and proud of the transformation BUA has made from trading concern to a manufacturing conglomerate.
“A key pillar of our administration’s policy thrust is import substitution especially when it comes to essential items such as food, household consumables and shelter. A nation of our size and with our natural and human resources is exhibiting its weakness if it continues importing essential commodities.
“For every grain of rice, wheat or maize we import, we destroy the livelihoods of our local farmers while creating jobs abroad. It is because of this that seven years ago, our Government introduced numerous laws, executive orders and incentives that support businesses with import substitution projects,’’ the president said.
He stressed that the focus of the administration stays on job creation and economic security.
“In the medium term, our hope was to see Nigerian companies expand their production expertise and capacity to other African nations helping them to also achieve their food and economic security goals. In the long term, our desire is to create a peaceful and prosperous continent with its young and talented population feeding, clothing and housing themselves.
“Today, through the BUA story, it is clear that we are on track! The company has continued to invest in domestic production and processing leveraging our local raw materials and youthful talent.
“It is always heartwarming to see and learn of Nigerian companies doing so much within Nigeria. Most of this phenomenal growth was achieved during this administration,’’ he added.
President Buhari noted that the successes recorded by entrepreneurs and the business community, like BUA, were “clear testaments to the correctness of our programs and policies.’’
“We have also seen similar successes, especially in the food and agri-input value chain,’’ he said.
The president extolled the chairman of BUA for his resilience, steadfastness and patriotism, affirming that the government would continue to encourage small businesses to grow.
“You have shown through your efforts at BUA, what is possible in our country and this is what I have always been working towards, a situation where we have businesses that can add value, create employment opportunities and reduce our dependence on imports whilst positioning ourselves for exports and global competitiveness.
“I am therefore not surprised to hear that two of your group companies – BUA Cement plc and BUA Foods Plc, are now amongst the top 10 most valuable publicly listed companies in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Your success story and those of many more Nigerian entrepreneurs, give us the motivation to do more as a Government to support the aspirations of all businesses big and small,’’ he submitted.
President Buhari also thanked the businessman for his philanthropy.
“Furthermore, you did not stop at what your country has enabled you to achieve, but you also continue to give back. The Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative has been implementing philanthropic programmes not only in Nigeria but across Africa.
“A good example is the Police National Reference Hospital building in Abuja which you recently donated to the Nigerian Police Force. Such exemplary and impactful gestures are needed to support our security agencies who are working very hard, day and night, to secure our lives and properties. On behalf of the Nigerian Government, I want to thank you for your patriotism.’’
In his remarks, Mr Rabiu said the BUA Group is very mindful of where it was at the advent of the Buhari administration, and the giant strides it has taken today.
He counted the blessings of the group to include: three new cement factories of 7.5 million metric tonnes capacity in Edo and Sokoto states to the already existing plants, a new 750,000 metric tonnes sugar refinery in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, a 20,000 hectares 4-in-1 fully integrated sugar plantation in Kwara State with a sugar mill refinery and ethanol plant, four flour and pasta factories, a 200,000 barrels per day refinery with a petrochemical plant, among others.
He submitted further: “We have continued to build and invest extensively in Nigeria and all these new projects were made possible because of the immense opportunities your government has created in ensuring industrialization and self-sufficiency by supporting serious businesses across many industries to fully harness our locally available resources and potentials.
“Your Excellency, I must say that you have done so much and tried in creating an enabling environment for businesses across Nigeria going by the strides we – and many others – have made. The results can and will speak for themselves long after you have left office. We know where we were in 2015 when you came in.”