We won’t depend on import again, says President

Buhari accuses predecessors of fertilizer diversion

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the country must never return to the
dark days of import dependence.

He spoke when he received members of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative
at the State House, Abuja.

The President praised members for making a success of the initiative.

Buhari said, “I am extremely impressed by how the programme has evolved
since my meeting with His Majesty, the King of Morocco 15 months ago.

“I have been monitoring your progress closely. But hearing it first hand
and seeing your faces today is truly a wonderful experience.

“In your presentations today, we have heard stories of sacrifices, where
all the stakeholders agreed that collective progress superseded personal
interest.”

He thanked Jigawa State governor and the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers
Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) for their efforts in the initiative’s
progress.

“Firstly, let me thank the Governor of Jigawa State who virtually relocated
to Abuja to oversee the successful take off of this project. I must also
express my profound gratitude to the people of Jigawa State for allowing us
to borrow him on this very important national assignment which indeed, has
changed the lives of millions of Nigerians across the country.

“I will also congratulate the members of the Fertiliser Producers and
Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) for their remarkable work to
date. Under the able leadership of your President, Thomas Etuh, you were
able to produce quality products and make it available and affordable
across the country within three months. Although you were all competitors
in the past, you all put aside your differences and came together to
deliver on this important program. So thank you for putting Nigeria first.
You must continue on this track.”

Buhari expressed satisfaction with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment
Authority (NSIA) for its contributions to the initiative.

“You moved away from your comfort zone and pushed your capital into the
rural economy. I always talk about the endless opportunities in the rural
economy if only people would look with an open mind. I will urge you to
continue on this track. Unless we create an inclusive and diversified
economy, the progress of our country, and its future generations, will
always be held hostage by external factors such as global oil prices.

“Special thanks to the three banks. I was told by my Chief of Staff that
when this project started, over 15 banks were asked to participate. But
only three of you answered this call. I want to ask you to continue to
support the PFI expansion plans presented today. Government will continue
to work and provide the enabling environment,” the president said.

He said unlike in previous governments where trucks conveying fertiliser
would miraculously disappear in transit, none of the 3,333 trucks used for
the programme last year went missing.

“I want to assure all participants of the PFI that, we will continue to
provide adequate security so that this programme, and its positive impact
on Nigeria, is sustained,” Buhari promised.

On the partnership between the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development and governors to ensure Nigeria feeds
itself, he said: “I want to encourage you to continue on this track.
Specifically, you must all support programmes like the PFI and work
together to ensure we never return to the dark days of import dependence. I
am pleased to hear that already, the CBN is working with the commercial
banks on programs that will further expand and enhance the PFI.”

He called for the availability of fertilizer for farmers in the South this
rainy season and urged the Ministry of Finance and NSIA to engage the
Governors Forum to conclude their orders.

Buhari directed the CBN to work with the commercial banks to ensure
affordable capital for farmers and agro dealers.

He also challenged others involved in the value chain to play their parts:
“The NSA and the security agencies should be ready to allow and protect the
movement of all agricultural goods. Specifically, issues relating to end
user certificates must be prioritised.

“The NPA should provide all the necessary support required to expedite the
offloading and evacuation of the imported materials.

“And finally, the NSIA and FEPSAN, under the able leadership of the
Governor of Jigawa, must ensure quality and affordable fertiliser is
available to farmers at the right time.”

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