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Group rejects government’s waiver plan for fertiliser import

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• Insists on adequate local raw materials

A faction of the Inorganic Fertilizer Manufactures and Dealers Association of Nigeria has rejected federal government’s plan to grant waiver to about seven fertiliser companies to import about 1.5million metric tonnes of fertiliser into the country.

This is against the backdrop of a request by the Minister of Agriculture, Sabo Nanono, to the Presidency to grant waiver to these companies to import the product. The Guardian gathered that the planned waiver was at the behest of some fertiliser producers, who had complained to the Minister about their inability to get raw materials for the product, as Boko Haram insurgents had hijacked the raw materials and using them for explosives.

However, the National President Fertilisers Association, Felix Okonti, while speaking to The Guardian, yesterday, in Abuja, faulted the claim that the product was being used for explosives, noting that not all chemical fertiliser can be used for bomb or explosives.

“Ammonia is usually used to make urea, but the farmers don’t really need urea, we suggested to them that we should not give them pure urea, rather they should allow them blend urea with other formulations that will make it impossible to use it for bomb,” he explained.

Okonti added that “When we got wind of the memo from the Minister of Agriculture to the President waiting to be approved, we kicked that Nigerian farmers are going to be crucified further for the benefit of the Indian farmers.”He alleged that the Association was dubiously made to attend a meeting where members input was sought on the said memo, only to discover that the content of the memo was different from what was agreed.

Okonti, who is also the Managing Director, Prime Gold Fertiliser, argued that the raw materials to produce fertiliser are abundant in Nigeria, saying for instance that gas used to produce ammonia for urea production is huge in the South South and South east, while there are two plants producing ammonia and urea in the country 
He added that phosphate rock is also in huge deposit in about 14 local government areas in Sokoto State, up to Niger Republic, adding that Nigeria once set up a super phosphate plant in Kaduna instead of Sokoto State, which was later shut down due to transportation challenges.

Ironically, he noted that the same phosphate that is being imported from Morocco despite huge quantities in Sokoto yet to be beneficiated. Narrating how Nigerian commercial banks frustrated his move to establish phosphate processing plant in Sokoto State, Okonti recalled that in 2014, the Bank of Industry (BoI), agreed to give him N1.6billion credit facility to establish the plant to produce DAP, MOP, and MAP.

However, parts of the loan requirements were to pay one percent of the loan, which was about N16.3million, and to also get commercial bank to guarantee the fund. But rather than assisting him, he alleged that the commercial banks requested for 130 percent of the money (about N230billion) and a landed property in Victoria Island among other requirements, which made it impossible for him to access the loan. He lamented that with about N2billion, the factory would have been up and running, and Nigeria would not be spending about N40 to N50billion importing DAP, MOP and MAP from Morocco.


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