By Naomi Uzor
VICE PRESIDENT, Yemi Osinbajo has urged major cement manufacturers to drive towards reduction in cement price as a means of boosting infrastructure development in the country.
Osinbajo gave the charge at the inauguration of the 350 million dollars BUA Cement Plant at Kalambaina, Sokoto State. He said two things that require urgent attention in the cement industry was pricing and embracing usage of cement for constructing concrete roads across the country.
According to him, the inauguration of the plant was a milestone not only for BUA Group, but for the cement industry and the nation’s economy.
He stated: “The price of cement surely can be cheaper. I know the standard arguments such as power, transportation and other challenges, but it is still a lucrative business. This cement plant will consolidate Nigeria’s self sufficiency in cement production, and boost the country’s status as a net exporter of cement. The significance of these cannot be over emphasised especially with the nation’s need to explore opportunities to diversify the country’s earnings away from oil.”
The vice president noted that after so many years of inadequate attention to national infrastructural development, the next few years will be defining for infrastructural development in the country, adding that, the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan estimates that an investment of about three trillion dollars was required to bridge the nation’s infrastructure gap.
This, according to him, will also increase infrastructure assets from the current level of about 35 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to at least 70 per cent by 2050.
“To be where we ought to be in infrastructural development, investment in construction materials is crucial. Cement is of course literally the building blocks for much of the infrastructure that we need in Nigeria from houses to bridges, roads and dams to mention a few,” he stated.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), BUA Group, AbdulSamad Rabiu, said the project would not have been realistic without Federal Government’s efforts to initiate deliberate policies that support key industries in the real sector, from agriculture to manufacturing.
He disclosed that the 1.5 million metric tonnes per annum cement plant will provide at least 2,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs in the country. He said through some of the policies, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) provided adequate foreign exchange for import of machinery, which was helpful in completing the project on schedule.
“The construction of this plant started three years ago when we engaged SINOMA at the height of the foreign exchange crisis. Despite what was termed by some to be harsh economic conditions in the months after signing the contract, we pushed on with steely resolve and a firm belief in the value of this project,” he stated.