With a national annual import of over $337million, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc has declared its irrevocable commitment to the Backward Integration Policy (BIP) of the federal government to reverse the trend and make Nigeria self-sufficient in sugar production.
The company, which is committing over $700million to its sugar projects told visiting members of the Nasarawa House of Assembly at the weekend that the company's investments in sugar would revolutionalise the economy of the state and lift its people as other people-oriented infrastructures would come with the sugar projects.
The state lawmakers, who were obviously excited at the sugar projects commended the Dangote Group for choice of the state for the project and the accelerated pace with which the project was being executed despite occasional delays arising from communal disagreements.
Nigeria is one of the sub-Saharan Africa's largest importers of sugar second only to South Africa, but the Dangote Sugar management assured the lawmakers that by the time the company fully completes its sugar projects in Nasarawa and Adamawa under the BIP, the nation would be saved of more than half of the forex expended on sugar imports annually.
General Manager for the Backward Integration Project, Dangote Sugar, Mr. John Beverley said when the factory became fully operational, it would have the capacity to crush 12,000 tonnes cane per day (tcd), while 90MW power will be generated for both the company's use and host communities.
He disclosed also that some 500km roads in all would be constructed to ease transportation within the vicinity, even as he solicited the support of the lawmakers in controlling the menace of land enchroachment by settlers and itinerant farmers.
Beverley said the company had been carrying out Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects in the communities pointing out that so far the company has constructed boreholes, schools, Clinic and awarded scholarship among other CSR services.
In his response, Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Hon. Ibrahim Balarabe Abdullah, who led the team, said that the $500 million so far expended on the investments by Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc in Nasarawa State was not only a blessing to Nigeria but the pride of Africa.
The Speaker and his team members, who were conducted round the company's 78,000 hectares Backward Integration Project in Tunga Awe Local Government Area of the state, commended the Chairman of the Company. Ahaji Aliko Dangote for the gigantic project saying "seeing is believing".
The Speaker said he was impressed by the huge nature of the investment, noting that it would not only open up opportunities in the state but in Africa as a whole.
Aside the Speaker, other Principal Officers in his entourage are: House Majority Leader, Hon. Umar Tanko Tunga (Awe North); Deputy Majority Leader, Daniel Ogah Ogazi; the Chief Whip, Hon. Muhammad Muluku (Nasarawa Eggon East), Hon. Suleiman Yakubu Azara (Awe South) and Hon Muhammad Alkali (Lafiya North).
The Speaker said the lawmakers were ready to partner and support the company towards the realisation of the sugar project through relevant legislations.
According to him, the news that the project would create about 150,000 jobs was a welcome one, more so when it is no secret that the project site was once a forest harbouring criminals before its acquisition by the Dangote Sugar Refinery.