he Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday commissioned the multi-billion Naira Wacot Rice Mill in Argungu, Kebbi State, the largest of its kind in Africa. The Acting President used the occasion to re-echo the resolve of the Federal Government to leverage on agriculture to grow the economy and create jobs. Prof. Osinbajo said the establishment of the mill by the private sector has highlighted the policy of the government to use the private sector as the engine-room of development.
“It underscored the policy of the Federal Government that it is the private sector that must be the engine of development. But the private sector being the engine of development is not just the private sector leading growth. The growth must be growth with jobs. It cannot not be jobless growth. “We have seen a lot of jobless growth, especially around the oil economy with a lot of revenue coming but a very few jobs. “One of the critical things that we are seeing today, especially the development of agriculture, is that this is growth with jobs. Several thousands of our people are farmers and are engaged in farming,” he said.
Osinbajo commended the management of Wacot for investing about N10 billion in the rice mill, which will engage about 50,000 farmers in the next few years.
He said investment in agriculture and its value chain as well as mining are the surest path to revamping the nation’s economy. Prof. Osinbajo restated the commitment of the Federal Government to encourage farmers to produce what is consumed in the country, and said the Anchor Borrowers Programme initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari has been justified with the establishment of Wacot and other rice mills across the country.
He said through the enactment of creative policies to jump-start the economy, Nigeria is set for economic growth, and lauded the private sector for its abiding confidence in the Nigerian economy. “This investment underscored the confidence the private sector has in the economy, which is being resuscitated. You can be sure that the private sector does not invest if it did not see the opportunity. This is not a government investment,” he said. Wacot Rice Mill is capable of producing 120,000 metric tonnes of paddy per annum, with the creation of about 3,500 direct and indirect jobs.
Dignitaries at the inauguration include the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe; Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu; and Governors of many APC-controlled states.