Khadijat Saidu, Birnin Kebbi
Nigeria remains an investment destination in West Africa and other parts of the world, says the Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu.
He spoke in Birnin Kebbi when the Chairman of Wacot Rice, Alhaji Faruk Gumel led other officials on a courtesy visit to his Office.
Governor Bagudu was highly optimistic that Nigerian Rice Farmers could double their production with the application of scientific methods which he described as necessary in modern times.
He thanked Wacot for supporting farmers with improved rice seeds and expressed happiness that the company has demonstrated that Nigeria is an investment destination.
The Governor pointed out that the second rice mill established by Wacot in Argungu was a testimony to this objective which has also facilitated self-sufficiency in rice production attained by the country.
“Wacot has really demonstrated that this is real and we can feed our immediate neighbors and other parts of the world, especially with rice.
“They are now doubling their capacity and work is in progress.
“They have promised to commission the project before May 29, 2023, and from what I saw, it will be real,” he said.
According to Bagudu, Nigeria is a big market for rice and the efforts of Wacot in the state had boosted financial inclusion.
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari took over the leadership of Nigeria in 2015 in a “perfect storm.
“He took over when the world economy was in crisis and we don’t have money to import food that we were used to importing.
“Buhari decided that Nigerians should eat what they grow and grow what they eat and he launched Anchor Borrowers Program in 2015.
“Alhaji Faruk Gumel was instrumental to that happy development and Wacot immediately took off in Kebbi state.”
The company believes in Nigeria and he described its Chairman as resourceful.
He also recalled the robust partnership between Kebbi and Lagos States that gave birth to Lake Rice, saying, “It really worked well.”
The Chairman of Wacot, Mallam Faruq Gumel briefed the governor on the purpose of their visit which according to him is on ensuring enhanced agricultural production with possible support from financial institutions.
Gumel who is also the Chairman Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority said the firm was expanding its rice mill and doubling its capacity.
According to him, the visit was part of the commemoration of Wacot’s partnership with USAID, tagged ‘rice enhancement and financial inclusion program.’
He also said that it was to inaugurate the financial inclusion program capturing the non-banking farmers in the state.
Similarly, it was to highlight the progress made and assess the impact of the activities of the company.
“In the last two years, it has really been difficult to get people to be banked and we are here to change the narrative,”Gumel said.
The Chairman of the Union Bank and the representative of Lagos State Government accompanied the Wacot boss on the visit.
The official from Lagos State, Director Rice Value Chain, Balogun Wakilu Olabode, commended Governor Atiku Bagudu for laying the foundation of agricultural revival in Nigeria especially rice production saying that the brain-child of the governor, “Lakerice”, is the most popular choice among Lagosians.
An official of Wacot, Habiba Suleiman presented a progress report of the company.
Present at the courtesy visit was the Speaker, Kebbi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Muhammad Sani Abubakar Lolo, the Majority Leader, Faruq Aliyu Nassarawa Jega, the Secretary to the State Government SSG, Babale Umar Yauri.
Others are the Permanent Secretaries of Government House, Agriculture, Finance, Budget, and Economic Development, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and the Director, Administration, ICT Ministry.