PRESIDENT of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has vowed to crash the price of fertilizer before the end of next year, in order to boost agricultural production and guarantee food security in the country.
Speaking at a forum in Abuja, Dangote stated that Nigeria’s fertilizer production would rise by about three million tonnes, and would be easily accessible to farmers across the country. Dangote commended the Federal Government, noting that it is government’s agricultural and fertilizer policies that would make the commodity cheaper and available. He said, “Government has actually done quite a lot, and I think by the end of next year or so, you will buy fertilizer even cheaper than what you are buying today. Secondly, we will be begging you to buy. There won’t be scarcity of fertilizer anymore.
“We have three million tonnes of capacity coming into the market by the end of next year and this is also due to the policies of the Federal Government.” In addition, Dangote said he supports a low crude oil price regime, stating that if the price of the commodity improves, current efforts aimed at diversifying the economy would be jettisoned. Temporary measure Aliko Dangote He said, “We need to be very serious. People who are hoping that crude oil is going to go back up to around $70 and $80 per barrel, it is not just going to happen. There is so much oil everywhere and I think, at $53 per barrel, it is a temporary measure.
“If crude oil gets to $90 per barrel, none of us would talk about recession again; we would go back to our normal ways. For us to go through this long haul of low oil price would help push us into the real sector which is agriculture, construction and all others.” Speaking in the same vein, Group Managing Director of Nestoil Limited, Mr. Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi, explained that at the current low oil price regime, emphasis in the oil and gas industry would be on local content. According to him, at the low price, Nigerian operators can produce better and at cheaper rates, adding that the Federal Government needs to change its policies in the industry and increase its partnership with the private sector.
He said, “Over the years, what I see is going to happen is that as the price of oil is coming down, things are going to go local. I mean, what percentage of the production cost we are saving; because our cost of production has to be low. How do you get it done? You have to use locals. You do not have to go fly in people from France, the United States to produce oil in Nigeria and put the cost as part of production.
“Nigerians can do it cheaper and even better, but there has not been that plan to transfer this technology to Nigerians. Yes, you might not be able to transfer technology, but Nigerians have also acquired some knowledge. Nigerians have developed certain capacities, but they are not being utilised. “Government needs to change its politics.
The capacity is there; they can come and see. We have been inviting government to come and see what we have done in-country, but nobody cares. I believe that this new government looks at things differently and would care.”
He further stated that the economic recession has helped operators to start looking inwards and focus on cutting costs. He said, “The only way the economic situation has helped us is that it has made us to start to look inwards; looking at how to cut costs, because costs of projects are now being reduced. We are looking at how to do projects cheaper without much exposure. Because the margins for the man giving one the project is very low, because oil price has dropped.”