The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday in Auchi, Edo State inaugurated the Edo Fertilizer Plant and Chemical Company Limited.
The plant, said to have the capacity to produce about 60,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer in a year, was revived through a public, private venture about 14 years after it was abandoned.
According to a statement from Government House, Benin City, Edo State, Mr. Osinbajo was accompanied to the ceremony in the state by the Ministers of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, and Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah.
He commended the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, for creating the enabling business environment for the revitalisation of the fertiliser plant.
Mr. Osinbajo expressed delight that 500 direct jobs had been created by the investment, stressing that much more employment opportunities would result from ancillary economic activities to be generated by the plant.
“The President Buhari administration is committed to making it easy for investors to do business in the country,” he said.
“We want to achieve this through the promotion of transparency and efficiency. We want every state to be involved in this drive and create the enabling environment for business to thrive in their domain.”
Mr. Osinbajo said fertiliser blending plants were being revitalised across Nigeria as a result of the presidential initiative to diversify the economy from crude oil, boost farming activities as well as develop the agriculture value chain.
He said the government was trying to make fertiliser, which is a major farm input, easily available and accessible to farmers as improved access to inputs would significantly enhance agricultural activities in the country.
In his remarks, Governor Obaseki said the ceremony was a milestone, as the facility was never operated for a day after it was launched by the state government about 14 years ago.
“The aim of revitalising this plant is to make the state self-sufficient in food production and enable farmers get fertilizer at affordable prices. We in Edo State are determined to make food available in the country,” he said.
The governor said the facility would go a long way in providing fertiliser for farmers in neighbouring states such as Kogi, Delta, Ondo and Anambra, as it was the only blending plant in the region.
Mr. Obaseki commended the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative as well as the management of WACOT, a private firm, for partnering with the state government in revamping the plant.
“This achievement is an open call to other investors to bring in new technology, create more jobs and expand our economic opportunities,” he said.
The governor called on the Otaru of Auchi, the community where the plant is located, to ensure the protection of the facility against vandalism as it creates a large range of opportunities for businesses in the community and the state.
Also speaking, the Group Managing Director of WACOT, Rahul Savara, commended Mr. Osinbajo for commissioning the plant and Mr. Obaseki for fostering the partnership between the state and his company.
He said the presidential Fertiliser initiative has made local production feasible and sustainable in the country, adding that the company would be made up of 95 per cent indigenous workers.
Speaking of the numerous benefits of having a fertiliser blending plant in the state, the state Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, said: “Many jobs will be created, it will boost business activities, farmers will no longer go through undue hardship before they get fertiliser to buy and productivity will increase. We are keying into the federal government policy to make fertilizer affordable and available in the country.”
In his remark, the Otaru of Auchi, Aliru Momoh, said the commissioning of the plant demonstrates Mr. Obaseki’s zeal to improve the economy as well as industrialise the state.
“The governor brought in people to revamp this plant and told us at the palace that within three months, it will become functional, we thought it was a joke. But thanks to Allah that we are here to witness the commissioning of the plant,” the traditional ruler said.