Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the President of Dangote Group, has called on the 19 Northern State Governors to invest more in the agricultural sector for the steady development of the region.
Dangote made the call on Wednesday while delivering his keynote address at the ongoing fourth edition of the Kaduna Investment Summit, tagged: “KADInvest 4.O,” in Kaduna.
He said Nigeria had been ranked 157 out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index, attributing the rating to the myriad of challenges confronting the country.
He described the widening gap between the rich and poor Nigerians as “very alarming” and collective efforts must be made, particularly in agriculture, to change the narrative.
Dangote, however, commended Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s drive to address the critical issues of development by attracting investments to the state, stressing the need for other governors to take a cue from the laudable initiative.
According to him, agriculture is one of the priority sectors that can create employment opportunities, especially in Northern Nigeria, adding that with sustained investments, significant progress would be recorded in rice and sugar production.
“If we have 10 Governors like El-Rufai, Nigeria would move forward in the next 10 years. The sector can create more revenue better than crude oil with proper investments,” he maintained.
He expressed concern that more than 60 per cent of the population live in extreme poverty in the North East and North Eest of Nigeria, saying Northern Nigeria will progress more if the 19 state governments would work together close the widening development gap.
He expressed the conviction that only private investments can create jobs and reduce unemployment and poverty in the region with agricultural potential, vast land and conducive climate.
According to Dangote, his conglomerate is working towards building 10 rice mills with a combined capacity of one million tonnes, which would come on stream before the end of 2019.
He said the Dangote Fertiliser Plant will also be ready in 2019 and has the capacity to produce three million tonnes of Urea and Ammonia per annum.
He added that project is geared towards making Nigeria the highest exporter of fertiliser in sub Saharan Africa.
The business tycoon further said there were plans to build East-West Gas Pipeline, with the capacity to generate 12,000 Mega Watts.
He gave assurance that his company is committed towards exploring new opportunities to invest in the state especially in the agricultural sector.
He stated that the revival of textile industries would improve the value chain in cotton production and create many jobs, thereby reducing poverty.
Dangote said: “As a group, we are willing to partner state governments to address the menace of poverty in the North in particular and the nation in general.”