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    We won’t depend on import again, says President

    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presentations today, we have heard stories of sacrifices, where all the stake holders agreed that collective progress superseded personal interest.”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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