By Emmanuel Afonne
Abuja – Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN) PLC says it plans to spend about N34billion over the next 10 years to develop Sunti community in Niger State which is hosting of one of its sugar plants – Sunti Golden Sugar Estates (SGSE).
Chairman of the company Mr John Coumantaros, said this during an official visit by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Niyi Adebayo, to Sunti Sugar factory, as the country pursue self-sufficiency in sugar production.
Coumantaros explained that the decision to invest such huge amount in development of the host community was to create an opportunity for other businesses in the area to grow.
He said the money would be used to build infrastructure such as roads, schools and electricity.
“We will be spending about N34billion over the next 10 years in support of the community and development of infrastructure in the area, so this is a huge expenditure expected to create jobs and also give the people education to make their life look good.
“It’s a tremendous transformational move as we will be having about 10,000 employees for the factory and another 50,000 of indirect jobs around the area.
“We have already employed about 5000 people, we have got five community schools, we are working on putting electricity in the area and there is no future without development.
“This is revolutionising and dramatically changing not only the Sunti community but Niger State because this is one of the biggest investments in the state in agriculture and industry,” Coumantaros said.
According to him, Sunti Sugar Estates is the most significant investment of a Sugar Backward Integration Project (BIP) under the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), with an investment of over N64billion.
Coumantaros also said that the company had been adjudged by the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), as the most productive BIP, under the NSMP with a score of 58 per cent and as such would remain the first and only greenfield investor producing raw sugar.
He urged the Minister to ensure that all operators were allowed a leveled playing field in the monitoring, assessment of BIP and allocation of quota.
The Minister, however, assured that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was committed to seeing the country’s economy rated as one of the best in world and to position Nigeria to attain self-sufficiently in sugar production.
“My going around is to know how far we have gone and to know the level of work that needs to be done to attain self-sufficiency.
“I am very happy to see a facility like this because of the number of people that are employed here.
“As we are all aware, President Buhari made a promise that he will lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, and that he hopes that can be done over the next 10 years.
“Efforts like this will go a long way in reducing the level of unemployment. Nigeria is working towards being self-sufficient in sugar, we have been able to do it in cement and we are trying to do it in sugar.
“As time goes on we will not import sugar anymore; we will produce more than enough for our use and possibly export.
“We also want to take advantage of the Africa Developmental Free Trade Area Agreement, so that we can export to other African country,” Adebayo said. (NAN)