This is a transcript of the welcome address delivered by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna Stae, Nigeria, at the commissioning of $100 million OLAM Integrated Feed Mill and Poultry on Tuesday, 12th September 2017. Since assuming office in May 2015, Harvard trained El-Rufai has embarked on a series of market-oriented reforms which have resulted in a turnaround in the fortunes of the state and is now seen as a model for economic diversification within Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy. The $100 Olam feed mill, the largest in Sub Sahara Africa of its kind in Africa, comes after an aggressive investment drive by the state government by providing an enabling environment for local and international investors.
1.I am most delighted to welcome Mr. President on his first official engagement since resuming work. We consider this a singular honor and recognition that Kaduna is the President’s home and agricultural development his abiding passion. I welcome the management of Olam, Governor Atiku Bagudu, all national and state assembly members, ministers, state legislators, commissioners, our royal fathers, and our distinguished guests to this occasion.
2.We are gathered here today to witness the commissioning of Nigeria’s largest Integrated Feed Mill and Poultry Breeding Farm and Hatchery, a much welcome investment by the Olam Group in Kaduna State. This did not happen by chance. What we are seeing here today is the result of careful investment promotion Kaduna State undertook to attract Olam, a company born in Nigeria in 1989, before it became one of the largest agribusiness companies in the world. In a country that is blessed all over with potentials in Agriculture, no state can just sit idly and hope that happenstance will bring investors!
3.Your Excellency, we are grateful for your presence here, for many reasons, not least of which is the support and encouragement you gave us on this project. You will recall, Mr. President Sir, that in 2015, you invited me to join your official delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. When I explained to you that I was due to be in Singapore at that time for meetings aimed at persuading Olam to invest in Kaduna, you gave your full support, kindly excused me from the UN trip and graciously included our Deputy Governor in the official delegation. Your words and actions clearly then confirmed to us in the Kaduna State government that you placed the highest premium on investment, economic diversification and job creation efforts. We were truly inspired.
4.Our September 2015 meetings with Olam in Singapore produced a meeting of minds, and the Company made a firm decision to invest further in Nigeria, and in Kaduna State. On the 8th April 2016, a day after the first edition of the Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit (KADInvest), which Mr. President also supported with a strong goodwill message and representational presence, the groundbreaking ceremony for this project was performed. 17 months later, the Olam Poultry and Feedmill facility in Kaduna is a reality! The farm is designed to produce 1.6 million day-old chicks weekly and 360,000 metric tonnes of animal feed annually. This is a significant milestone for Kaduna state and Nigeria in our quest to ensure food security and achieve economic diversification through agriculture.
5.President, Sir. Our party under your personal flagship campaigned and got elected in 2015 to end insecurity, diversify the economy away from oil-dependency and fight corruption. For obvious reasons, and consistent with the APC manifesto, Agriculture and Mining top our list of priority investment sectors. Kaduna State has comparative advantage in these two sectors. For instance, our farmers are the leading producers of Ginger, Maize and Soyabeans in this country. We are close second in the production of sorghum, beans, tomatoes, chili peppers and potatoes. Kaduna State is blessed with vast arable land, immense water resources and farmers who know how to farm, limited only by their small holdings.
6.Our duty is to find ways to bring in the big players who can provide global market opportunities that can incentivize our farmers to produce more, expand their holdings and introduce better technology. In Agriculture, we do not think the way forward is for government to become a farmer, even though government can offer agricultural extension services, and run demonstration farms and models to attract a younger generation into farming. As in many other economic spheres, government is at its best when it enables citizens where they are capable, regulate, and incentivize participants, rather than own, control or operate.
7.In Kaduna State, we have jettisoned populist, but ineffectual, policies in agriculture. We showed that our farmers can be supported without draining huge funds from the treasury in the name of fertilizer subsidy. We are working with the major agro-processing giants in Nigeria to create a new Kaduna Produce Management Company, to give to our farmers those services in aggregation, quality control and access to national and global markets that the abolished marketing boards used to provide using public funds. The difference now is that this will be business-driven, and therefore more sustainable, with minimal treasury commitment.
8.Your Excellency, this Olam Farm is the largest single Foreign Direct Investment in Kaduna State in decades. It will create thousands of direct jobs, but will create many more indirect jobs because it will outsource its grain supplies to our farmers, and create a ready source of day-old chicks for our smaller poultry farmers. Rather than destroy value, this Olam operation has come to enhance capacity and opportunity for our small-scale farmers.
9.In many ways, the Olam project is also a major investment by the Kaduna State Government. In the competition for investments, we must offer a superior proposition if we are to win. Kaduna State provided this land free of charge to Olam, carrying the burden of paying nearly N500 million in compensation to customary title holders in the clear belief that such is a worthwhile expense for the benefit of our people. Our willingness to do this further convinced Olam that we are not only ready for business, but that we know that spending a little to secure investments of more than USD 100m is sound business! The jobs for our youths and the expanded opportunities for our farmers no doubt justify these exertions.
10.It is appropriate at this point to pay tribute to High Royal Highness, Sa Gbagyi, our Royal Father of the Day, for the sterling role he played in lining up the communities in his chiefdom to offer unqualified support to this project. Thank you, Your Highness, for your exemplary and inclusive leadership.
11.Mr President Sir, Your Excellencies, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen. Around this Olam Facility, we are developing the Kaduna Green Economic Zone. This industrial park, which is being developed in partnership with Skipper Seill of India, will accommodate other agribusinesses, including the OCP Centre of Agricultural Excellence (Morocco), Flour Mills Fertilizer Blending Plant (Nigeria) and the Mahindra Tractor Manufacturing Plant (India), all powered by clean solar energy, with gas turbines as back-up to be provided by Greenwich Energy of France and Greenville Oil and Gas (Nigeria). By the Grace of God, this Olam facility is the seed that will flower the emergence of a major agro-industrial hub here in Kaduna State.
12.We are able to do this because since 2015, our APC government has demonstrated that Kaduna State is open for business. With the support of UK-DFID and the World Bank, we established the Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency (KADIPA) under the leadership of our Deputy Governor as a one-stop shop for investors. We created the Kaduna Geographic Information Service (KADGIS) to digitize our land registry and provide a quicker and more transparent way to acquire and verify land title. We legislated a new tax code that consolidated in one document all taxes and levies payable in the state, established one revenue collector, KADIRS, and abolished multiple taxation.
13.The Kaduna State House of Assembly ably led by the youngest Speaker of any legislature in Nigeria today, Honourable Aminu Abdullahi Shagali, enacted all these laws with diligence, careful scrutiny, speed and great commitment to promoting economic diversification of our State, and we are grateful to the Speaker and our well-functioning, bi-partisan state legislature.
14.Our commitment to make Kaduna an investment destination of choice is backed up by policies and laws that make it easy for investors to set up and operate in Kaduna.
15.President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, we want all investors seeking to do business in the state to know that our commitment to every investor is bound by a signed document called the ‘Ease of Doing Business Charter’, which outlines what the Government of Kaduna state will deliver within the timeframe stipulated in the charter. Our investment policies in Kaduna have eliminated the bureaucratic difficulties discouraging business and reduced the cost and time required to get approvals of any nature. In this regard, I want to recognize the efforts of our investment promotion team led by the Deputy Governor, assisted by Jimi Lawal, the Senior Adviser and Counsellor, and our KADIPA leadership of Gambo Hamza, Sabiu Sani and their management team.
16.We are encouraged by the sheer number of business that have shown commitment to invest in our state since we launched these initiatives. We hope that in no distant time we will commission more agro-businesses like Vicampro that will process Potatoes produced in Kaduna and Plateau States into French Fries in Manchok, Kaura Local Government, and others like Dangote and Olam that will cultivate and process tomatoes in Kubau and Ikara Local Governments in the northern part of the state.
17.President Sir, as you have always maintained since you first led our nation in 1984, economic diversification is no longer just a choice. It is a necessity! Our hope for self-reliance, economic growth and development, job opportunities for our largely youthful population in this state, and improved internally-generated revenues all rely on creating value and wealth outside oil. It is harder, but more sustainable.
18.President Sir, this project and others like it in Kaduna State and elsewhere are the responses of investors to the policy decision of your administration to restrict access to CBN dollars for the importation of certain food items that we can produce domestically. May I therefore acknowledge the immense support of all the Federal Government agencies – particularly the NIPC, CBN, Federal Ministries of Finance, Industry Trade and Investment and Agriculture to Kaduna state in realizing this project. I specially want to thank our leader, President Mohammad Buhari, for coming personally to commission this project despite his commitment to host the President of Republic of Ghana today. We remain inspired and motivated by your vision and passion to work for Nigeria’s economic growth and improve the welfare of our citizens.
19.I equally want to thank Olam group for believing in the Buhari APC government’s insistence that we should consume what we can produce and be self-reliant. We thank Olam for believing our message that Kaduna is ready for business. Olam’s presence in Kaduna will no doubt accelerate the growth of our economy. We assure you and all those investing in our dear state that this government will continue to give you all the support you need to operate and grow your business.
20.Thank you for listening. And on this note, it is my singular honor, privilege and delight to most respectfully invite our leader, mentor and father, President Muhammadu Buhari to commission the Olam Poultry and Feedmill to hasten his return to Abuja to continue with his commitments.
21.God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, OFR – September 12, 2017