Relief for Kaduna as el-Rufai counters economic recession with potato processing plant

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L-R GOVERNOR OF THE CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA, MR GODWIN EMEFIELE; GOV. NASIR EL-RUFAI OF KADUNA STATE; DEPUTY GOVERNOR BARNABAS BANTEX; AND MINISTER OF STATE FOR INDUSTRY, TRADE AND INVESTMENT, MRS AISHA ABUBAKAR, DURING THE GROUND-BREAKING FOR VICAMPRO POTATO FARM AND PROCESSING FACILITY, IN MANCHOK, KADUNA STATE ON SATURDAY (24/9/16). 7072/24/9/2016/SP/BJO/NAN

By CHRIS SULEIMAN

The Nigerian media has been awash with the news of the present economic predicament in the country, which was discussed under the term now popularly referred to as economic recession. This dwindling fortune of the Nigerian economy has affected the activities of government and limited the ability and capacity of people in government to perform.

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The dwindling price of oil in the global market coupled with the activities of the Niger-Delta militants, which have affected output of oil export as well as lack of foresight on the part of past leaders who refused to exploit other sources of revenue generation for the nation was responsible for today’s  economic crunch.
The economic problems have however, made governance very challenging and tasking. It makes it  real business that require men with the necessary skills to drive state economy from poverty to prosperity and not for charlatans. Because the era of free money from the Federal Allocation is no longer guaranteed. So it becomes imperative for state governments to focus on other sources of income to augment the federal allocation that is presently inadequate to meet the demanding challenges of most state governments.

This obviously, may be the  driving force motivating Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai to make Kaduna State one of the investment destinations in the country. The beginning of the manifestation of that goal was witnessed in the recent foundation laying ceremony of a multi-billion Naira  potato processing plant of Vicampro Farms Company Limited situated in Manchok, Kaura Local Government Area in the southern part of the state.

The project, which was described as very important by governor el-Rufai, because of its capacity to generate employment to the teeming unemployed youth of Kaduna State as well as boost the state government earning through tax, which would improve Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR), was said to have capacity to  ease the foreign exchange deficit of the nation thereby reducing the pressure on the Naira, that is currently suffocating in the foreign exchange market.

In his words, el-Rufai said: “This is an important project for Kaduna State because it has the potential to generate thousands of jobs for our teeming youths. Additionally, this project will stimulate a chain of economic activities that will impact positively on the economic development of the state and the nation. Vicampro is not only going to process potato that will serve local demand; it is also primed for export of its products, thereby earning foreign exchange for the country.

Pundits said to boost the economy and restore prosperity through a genuine fight against poverty, then job creation must take the centre stage. They said doing so would help in curbing unemployment as well as boosting government earnings through the generation of Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR). This, may not be an easy task with the present economic situation in the country. To achieve employment generation by any government in Nigeria attention has to shift to economic diversification.

In line with the above, el-Rufai said “Kaduna State is blessed with abundant natural resources. We have arable land, and a tradition of farming. Agriculture is a sphere of comparative advantage for us; and we are promoting agriculture in our drive to diversify the economy of the state. In our determination to generate jobs and reduce our reliance on the Federal Government for revenues.

Economic experts  also stressed that job creation in an era of global economic challenges like this  is not the business of government. They stated that  government’s responsibility is creation of enabling environment that would facilitate business and aid wealth creation. Governor el-Rufai while speaking in Manchok, said Kaduna State has initiated programmes and policies that have created business-friendly environment. He said: “We want businesses to feel safe bringing their investments to Kaduna State. This is in agreement of expert argument.

According to him “That is why we organised the Kaduna Economic Summit (KADInvest) between 6th  and 7th April, 2016, to showcase the numerous opportunities and potentials of the state and how ready Kaduna is for investment.  We have worked with the State House of Assembly to pass a law that established the Kaduna State Investment Promotion Agency (KADIPA) as an agency that coordinates activities towards attracting and promoting investment in the state.

El-Rufai also informed that: “Today, Kaduna is becoming  a much easier place to do business and our efforts have already started yielding positive results.  He said “We have Olam of Singapore investing $150 Million to build the largest integrated Poultry and Feed Mill in Nigeria.

According to him “Similarly, Dangote Group is investing in a 7000-hectare tomato farm and a processing plant in Kaduna State. Through this Public-Private-Partnership, thousands of direct and indirect jobs will be created to reduce the high rate of unemployment and roll back poverty. Vicampro’s USD 120m investments will also boost the revenue base of the state through taxes.

It is however, worrisome that farmers  in most rural areas are face with the challenge of absent of  ready market for the farm produce, but for the people of Manchok and environs, this potato processing plant has provided solution to farmers in this regard.

The governor assured that: “This project will provide the opportunity for farmers in these communities and the entire state to be trained in modern potato farming.Vicam pro will help to raise standards of farming and harvesting, and our farmers will be the better for it.

Violence, insecurity and any breach of peace breed poverty and misery. It was even  an established fact that no economic activities thrive in an atmosphere of rancour and acrimony. Businesses need secure and peaceful environment to flourish.

So peace and security is necessary for Kaduna State to achieve her economic development drive irrespective of how expertly the government marshaled out her plan. Little wonder the governor said: “We need investments across our state, to create wealth and jobs and conclusively defeat the poverty that has blighted too many lives and inclined many to succumb to machinations of division, hate and mischief. We all know that investments will not come in an atmosphere of insecurity. No investor will want to put his money in an insecure environment.That is why I am using this opportunity to call on the good people of Kaura LGA and the entire host communities to support Vicampro Farms Limited to realise this project. ”

Chris Suleiman,  Is the Abuja Editor of AUTHENTIC News Daily
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