Buhari impressed with Dangote’s $2.5bn Fertiliser plant
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday commissioned the new 3 million Metric Tonnes capacity per annum state-of-the-art Dangote Fertiliser Urea Plant, with an emphatic assurance that the project would give a huge fillip to Nigeria’s agricultural sector, which revitalization has been a focal point of his administration’s economic policy.
The new plant, which he commissioned in the presence of some 18 governors, ministers, captains of industries as well as prominent traditional rulers, is located at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos Free Trade Zone within the periphery of the Dangote refinery.
A visibly excited President Buhari said the coming on stream of the plant would create huge opportunities in the areas of employment, trade, warehousing, transport and logistics. The Plant, according to the President “will greatly create wealth, drastically reduce poverty and secure the future of our nation”.
He said, “In the agricultural sector, another focal point of our economic policy, we expect a boom as fertiliser is now readily available. Many Nigerians who hitherto practiced subsistence farming because of non-availability of necessary inputs can now take up agriculture as a business. We expect a rise of new breed of agropreneurs who will add value to farming and make the nation self-sufficient in food production.”
According to him, the federal government is now determined more than ever before to provide enabling environment for private sector investors to thrive, adding that his government would continue to improve on infrastructure, power, security and enact relevant laws and regulations that would drive investments in the economy.
President Buhari reiterated that part of the government’s effort in this regard was the partnership with the private sector government via a tax credit scheme, in the rehabilitation of roads across Nigeria under the Presidential Order No. 7.
“As we all know, good roads contribute to easy movement of goods and services across the nation, thus reducing cost of doing business and improving productivity. We are also rehabilitating our railway lines and building new ones to lessen the burden on our roads and create more effective multi-model transportation networks,” he added.
In an earlier welcome address, President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote described the new plant as a game changer, as it has the capacity to make Nigeria become self-sufficient in fertiliser production, with spare capacity to export to other markets in Africa and the rest of the world. He added that already, Dangote fertiliser has reached the markets in the USA, Brazil and Mexico.
According to him, the Fertiliser plant, which is the largest granulated Urea fertiliser complex in Africa, occupies 500 hectares of land, was built at a cost of $2.5 Billion, and is expected to reduce drastically level of unemployment and youth restiveness in the country through employment opportunities. To him, the plant is expected to generate new jobs with top quality fertiliser being available and in sufficient quantities for the farmers.
He stated that agriculture accounts for 20 per cent of the nation’s GDP and that the new plant was an ambitious project that would provide both direct and indirect employment, thereby reducing youth restiveness
Dangote Fertiliser, according to him, would ensure emergence of farmers in the country, providing hundreds of jobs and ushering in a new era of agricultural entrepreneurs, (agroprenuers). “This breed of agroprenuers will take to farming on large scales, providing food and raw materials for our industries,” he added.
Dangote stated that the fertiliser plant is rolling out with innovations that would transform the agricultural sector in the form of extension services for small and medium scale farmers. It has set up a well-equipped fertiliser soil testing laboratory to enable it analyse and identify soil deficiency and the appropriate fertiliser blend.
“Studies have shown that applying the right fertiliser to the soil will boost productivity. This service is to cover all the geopolitical zones, and will surely change agricultural landscape in the country by transforming farming into a lucrative profession.
“Dangote Fertiliser is working with Farmer Associations, Corporate Farmers, NPK Blenders, NGO/development partners and State Governments all over Nigeria, and governments across Africa and beyond who are looking for sustainable approach to improving soil quality and farm yields,” he explained.
Speaking at the occasion, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele said Nigeria is indeed indebted to Aliko Dangote for his giant stride to add value to Nigeria’s economy. According to him, “It is great that a Nigerian has taken not just this great initiative of helping to solve our perennial problem of importing petrochemical products including fertiliser but has taken advantage of the emerging huge market opportunity presented by recent global developments.”
Emefiele commended President Buhari for providing all the support needed to put in place economic policies that would reverse the trend of the doldrums, pointing out that the completion of the fertiliser plant is a stellar example of the realisation of the vision.
The CBN governor described the fertiliser plant as timely considering the recent developments in the global market, where prices of wheat, fertiliser and crude oil spiked by over 20 per cent, following the start of the Russia – Ukraine war.
“In addition to the lessons we learnt from the protectionist actions of countries during the early days of COVID-19, this investment is again a glaring testament to the foresight and tireless efforts of Mr. President in encouraging domestic production of items that can be produced in Nigeria, especially agriculture. This would not only help to enable greater productivity of our agricultural sector but also help in insulating Nigeria farmers from depending on imported fertiliser,” Emefiele stated.
He recalled that prior to 2015 when President Buhari resumed office, Nigeria had a fertiliser shortfall of about 3.5 million tonnes per annum compared to the over 6 million tonnes per annum required in the country.
“Then President Buhari inaugurated the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative and charged them with resolving this problem. With sustained efforts, other indigenous companies like Indorama and Notore with a combined capacity of over 2.5 million tonnes per annum have tried to match the market demand, yet the country still faced a huge shortfall of fertiliser supply. Today, Nigeria is self-sufficient in the production of urea, and we are also the leading producer of urea in the African continent,” he added.
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Mahmood Abubakar called on other investors to rise up to the occasion, noting that the Dangote Fertiliser would help to solve the problem of fertiliser shortages in Nigeria. He also assured that the government would enforce standard in the industry to maintain quality.
Lagos state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu commended Alhaji Aliko Dangote for always blazing the trail, noting that Lagos state government was happy to be hosting many of his businesses. He added that, “with the largest fertiliser plant in Africa in Lagos and the largest refinery in the world coming soon, there is nobody that would not be proud of Alhaji Dangote.”
The governor stated that Nigeria would quickly forget its many economic problems if another entrepreneur like Dangote could be replicated in other regions of Nigeria.
Sanwo-Olu also said that private investors could always count on Lagos State government when it comes to provision of an enabling environment to make businesses thrive.
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Labour Party Senatorial candidate, Oyibo Chukwu killed in Enugu
The Labour Party candidate for Enugu East Senatorial district, Oyibo Chukwu has been killed.
Oyibo, a lawyer was said to have been attacked while returning from a campaign trip in the Agbani area.
He was said to have been burnt inside his vehicle, and three persons were suspected to be with him in the vehicle but it was not yet known how many of the occupants were killed.
Information about the attack is still very sketchy but a top member of the party has confirmed it but said he should not be quoted until the family speaks.
It was also learned that the APC governorship candidate in the state, Uche Nnaji was also attacked at the spot where the Labour candidate was killed.
Naira crisis: Await our decision, S’Court tells states seeking to join suit
The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, shut its door to more states seeking to be joined as interested parties in the suit challenging the decision of the Federal Government to ban the use of the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes as valid legal tenders.
A seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court, in a unanimous decision, asked all the states interested in the matter to await its decision in the suit that was originally filed by three northern states- Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara.
The panel headed by Justice Inyang Okoro took the decision after it rejected a joinder application that was filed by Abia State.
It proceeded to consolidate the different suit that was filed by Rivers State, with all the pending cases challenging the Naira swap policy that FG introduced through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
All the suits the apex court consolidated for hearing on Wednesday, were marked: SC/CV/162/23, SC/CV/162/23, SC/CS/197/23, SC/CV/200/23, SC/CV/210, SC/CV/227, SC/CV/229/23 and SC/CV/222/23.
It will be recalled that the court had earlier joined seven states- Lagos, Cross River, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Sokoto and President Muhammadu Buhari’s homestate, Katsina, as parties to the suit that was filed by the three northern states.
Though only the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, was initially cited as the sole defendant in the matter, the apex court okayed requests by Edo and Bayelsa states to be allowed to join the suit to support FG as co-plaintiffs.
Rivers, Kano, Jigawa and Nasarawa states had maintained that there own case was different, stressing that their grouse was not only with the Naira swap policy, but also with the cash withdrawal limits the CBN allowed for corporate entities and individuals, respectively.
While consolidating all the cases, the Supreme Court noted that the issue in dispute resolves around Section 20(3) of the CBN Act.
It held that there was no need for more states to apply for permission to join the legal fireworks.
“We will no longer join any state in this matter. When we give our decision, whoever that is dissatisfied can file a fresh suit. There is still time”, the apex court held.
It will be recalled that the apex court had on February 8, issued an interim order that restrained FG from implementing its February 10 deadline for the use of the redesigned Naira notes as legal tenders.
However, despite the order of the ex-parte order by apex court, the CBN had since invalidated the old N500 and N1000 banknotes, even as President Buhari, in a nationwide broadcast he made on February 16, okayed the N200 note to remain a legal tender till April 10.
Specifically, the states, in their consolidated suit, are among other things, seeking a declaration that the Demonetization Policy of the Federation being currently carried out by the CBN under the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is not in compliance with the extant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 and actual laws on the subject.
They applied for, “A declaration that the three-month notice given by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the CBN under the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the expiration of which will render the old banknotes inadmissible as legal tender, is in gross violation of the provisions of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 which specifies that Reasonable Notice must be given before such a policy”.
As well as, “A declaration that given the express provisions of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the CBN, has no powers to issue a timeline for the acceptance and redeeming of banknotes issued by the Bank, except as limited by Section 22(1) of the CBN Act 2007. The Central Bank shall at all times redeem its bank notes”.
Besides, the states urged the apex court to direct the immediate suspension of the demonetisation of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the CBN under the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria until it complied with the relevant provisions of the law.
The plaintiffs told the apex court that since the CBN announced the new naira policy, there has been an acute shortage in the supply of the new naira notes in their respective states.
They decried that residents in their states who complied with CBN’s directive and deposited their old naira notes have increasingly found it difficult to access new naira notes to conduct their daily businesses.
They maintained that the inadequacy of the new naira notes as well as the haphazard manner the monetary policy was being implemented, has wrought serious hardship on residents in their states, stressing that the 10-day extension of the deadline would not be sufficient to address the challenges occasioned by the policy.
Old Notes: Kogi, Kaduna, Zamfara accuse Malami, Emefiele of violating S’Court order
Three northern states, Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara, have initiated contempt proceedings against the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, at the Supreme Court, following his alleged refusal to comply with the order that extended the deadline for the use of the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes as valid legal tenders.
Equally joined in the contempt action was the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele.
The three states, in the two sets of Form 48 they lodged before the apex court, warned both Malami and Emefiele of the consequence of their continued disobedience to the interim order the court made on February 6, which halted the full implementation of the new monetary policy that was introduced by the CBN.
Specifically, Form 48, which has already been served on both the AGF and the CBN Governor, read: “Take notice that unless you obey the direction contained in the attached Order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria delivered on 3rd day of February 2023, you will be guilty of contempt of Court and will be liable to be committed to prison.”
Vanguard learned that the contempt action by the three states who had originally gone to court to set-aside the initial February 10 deadline the CBN gave for usage of the old Naira banknotes, will form part of processes the Supreme Court will consider on Wednesday.
Basically, a Form 48 (notice of consequence of disobedience of court order), is followed with a Form 49, should the party it was served on continue to disregard the court order alleged to have been flouted.
Upon receipt of a Form 49, the alleged Contemnors would be compelled to show cause why they should not be committed to prison for disobeying a subsisting court order.
It will be recalled that the three states had on February 15 when proceedings resumed on the legal dispute sorrounding the Naira swap policy, drew attention of the apex court to the fact that FG had through the CBN, banned the use of the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes, despite the ex-parte order that restrained it from doing so.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr. AbdulHakeem Mustapha, SAN, while accusing FG of engaging in “Executive recklessness”, urged the apex court to extend the interim order.
Mustapha, SAN, further indicated that he had filed an affidavit to establish how the express order of the Supreme Court was disobeyed by FG.
However, FG’s lawyer, Mr. Kanu Agabi, SAN, urged the apex court to disregard the allegation by counsel to the plaintiffs, insisting that it was based on “mere rumour”.
Before adjourning the case till Wednesday, the seven-member panel of the apex court led by Justice Inyang Okoro, stressed that parties, having submitted themselves before the court, ought not to take any action that would affect the subject matter of the suit.
Even though only the AGF was initially cited as the sole defendant in the matter, the panel however granted applications that Edo and Bayelsa states filed to be allowed to join the suit to support FG as co-plaintiffs.
Likewise, the court allowed seven states- Lagos, Cross River, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Sokoto and President Buhari’s home state, Katsina- to also join the case to challenge the new monetary policy.
On the other hand, Rivers, Kano and Jigawa states filed separate suits to vacate the cash withdrawal limits the CBN allowed for corporate entities and individuals, respectively.
The court held that all the suits would be consolidated for a hearing.
Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after the court proceeding, President Muhammadu Bihari made a nationwide broadcast and restated the ban on all the old banknotes except N200 which he okayed to remain a valid legal tender till April 10.
Aggrieved by the action, the 10 states that are now plaintiffs in the suit marked: SC/CV/162/2023, re-approached the apex court with another process to invalidate the President’s directive on the old banknotes.
It will also be recalled that Malami had filed a Preliminary Objection to dismiss the suit, even as he contended that the Supreme Court lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain it.
Listing his grounds for challenging the power of the Supreme Court to intervene in the matter, Malami, accused the plaintiffs of opposing FG’s power, through its agency, the CBN, to withdraw old banknotes and introduce new ones.
According to him, “The Plaintiffs’ suit is about the power vested on the Central Bank of Nigeria by the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 to call in its Banknotes and introduce new ones.
“This suit as presently constituted falls under section 251(1)(a)(p)(q) & (r) of the Constitution (exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court) by virtue of the subject matter and parties.
“The Claims or reliefs are not against the Federation, but the Federal Government and its Agency, the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
“The Federal Government of Nigeria is distinct from the Federation or the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Plaintiffs have no grievance whatsoever against the Federation of Nigeria.
“This Suit has disclosed no dispute that invokes this Court’s original jurisdiction as constitutionally defined. This suit is an abuse of the judicial process.
Plaintiff has no locus standi to institute this action. The Plaintiffs have no reasonable cause of action against the Defendant”, Malami argued.
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