Mega Rice Mills Will Soon Spring Up In Kano – Mukhtar

Mega Rice Mills Will Soon Spring Up In Kano – Mukhtar

5/14/2021 6:51:00 AM

Mega Rice Mills Will Soon Spring Up In Kano – Mukhtar

Barrister Ibrahim Mukhtar is Kano State commissioner for commerce, industries and solid minerals. In this interview with ABDULLAHI YAKUBU, he speaks on

ABDULLAHI YAKUBU, he speaks on the projects being executed by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje to industrialise the state.As the commissioner in charge of the industrial sector, what are the problems faced by industries in the state that have led to many of them becoming moribund?

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Out of concern and considering the place of Kano State in terms of industrial development, the governor constituted a committee comprising technocrats, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and other stakeholders to investigate, report and proffer solutions to why a lot of industries have closed shop.

The committee has concluded its work and reported back to the State Executive Council (SEC) because it was an executive council committee. After the report, the executive council directed the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to study the report and issue a white paper and I have set up a committee to do that work.

So, my committee in the Ministry of Commerce is now conducting that work in order to present a white paper to the executive council for approval. So, that is what the government is doing.Apart from that, we are working on inadequate power supply which is forcing these industries to fold up. If there is no adequate power supply, definitely, the operations of these industries will either be below their installed capacities or at zero level. It is against this backdrop that Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje initiated the power project at Bagauda which has reached over 90 per cent completion stage.

The targeted consumers of that energy are the industries. This is to support them with adequate power supply so that those who could not operate on diesel-powered generating sets will get a cheaper source of power supply and that will help in reviving the moribund industries.

Again, you know there will be no mass industrial development without small scale industries being supported with suitable technology.ADVERTISEMENTTherefore, the Kano State government is supporting the small-scale industries, particularly those which are involved in rice processing.

There are claims in some quarters that the abandoned companies have become dens for criminals?No, it is not true. These are private companies owned by individuals who have invested a lot of money in them. So, even if they are not in operation, they have value and no investor will allow his assets to be in the hands of criminals and other undesirable elements.

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I believe nobody and company will be converted into such a den. You’re talking of hundreds of millions or even billions of naira investments, even if they are out of operation, for you to get the site or even the money to invest, it is not an ordinary thing, so I don’t believe this.

Let me add that even though some of the companies are out of operation and are being described as moribund, especially when it comes to textile industries, I am not disputing that, but if you look at the other side from a sector which is not known in Kano State or in Nigeria, and that is rice milling, Kano as at today, we are having over 65 per cent of all the rice mills in operation in Nigeria.

So, as we have lost the textile industry, we have gained a new sector, which is also doing very well in feeding the country and that is a plus for Nigeria and even better than the textile industry.Nigeria was spending hundreds of millions of dollars to import rice from Asian countries. Now, the country is strong enough to feed herself with rice made in Nigeria and processed in Nigeria.

It is a game of comparative advantage, other countries have moved far ahead in industry; if you take China and other developed nations, the cost of production is far cheaper. If you compare the cost of production of a textile material in Kano and the cost of production in China, because of the sophisticated nature of the industry there, it is cheaper in the world market. For competition, definitely our prices are high because of the cost of production.

So, they have an edge over us and we cannot win that competition at the moment.Then we said okay, let us close our borders, let us produce our own rice, let us process, let us sell at the cost of production, and we are doing very well. A lot of employment opportunities are being created in agriculture because of rice farming and milling.

How do you link this with the security situation, don’t you think insecurity is chasing away investors from the state?Not at all. Kano, almost on a daily basis, we receive potential investors. Some are already investing, others are processing their documentation to have permission to come in and establish their industries, a few others are indicating interest, some are conducting surveys.

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Kano is a blessed State and today, Kano has been declared as the most secured state in the whole country. For over seven years, we have not witnessed any attack, any arrest, be it political or otherwise. So, we are enjoying peace relatively when compared to other states.

What do you think made this possible?t is partly because of the airport. Let me start with God Almighty, He helped the state by providing it security by answering our prayers and appreciating our efforts. But at the human level, the state government is supporting all the relevant security agencies to carry out their duties and to discharge them responsibly. You know without that support they hardly operated at optimum level.

The state government gives security a priority over any other issue and we are succeeding. I’m sure you have been following the number of arrests of hardened criminals, gang leaders who are terrorising the country in the state.We are working and we are praying and God Almighty is answering our prayers. We thank God Almighty and we thank our administration as well as the people of Kano. Because the people are also supporting the government with security reports. That is why the security agents are achieving the desired result.

How will the Ajaoukuta-Kano-Kaduna gas pipeline project impact the national economy and the state?In fact, let me tell you, this will address poverty on a large scale in the country, particularly in the northern part because if the project is completed, you can access energy straight from Ajaoukuta all the way to Kaduna and to Kano State. And the implication is, through this distance of over 500-600 kilometres, industrial layouts may be set up at a very low cost because Northern Nigeria is blessed with flat lands which you can easily clear and establish industrial layouts.

Even the operations of the industries, in terms of energy, will be cheaper because you can easily utilise gas to generate enough energy.There will be enough energy for the industries to operate and that may translate to industrial breakthrough for the country and Northern Nigeria. There would be huge employment opportunities, skills acquisition and these industries will be making serious returns and will support various societies in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

There is a railway, a federal government project, which will complement the state government’s effort. Abuja-Kaduna is connected, now there is continuation of that project, Kaduna-Kano and Kano-Katsina as well as Katsina-Niger Republic, and this will support businesses, improve trade, it is like the revival of Trans Saharan trade route which Northern Nigeria had benefitted a lot from.

And the revival of that route means linking Nigeria in terms of trade with Central Africa, all the countries in Central Africa, Morocco, Niger Republic and Chad. Activities will continue on a higher scale than before and that means a lot to the country, a lot for Northern Nigeria and Kano State in particular.

The other area that is of importance to the state is the Dala Inland Dry Port. It is very important in terms of economic development. You are aware Kano has made its name out of trade and commerce, the governor is supporting that project to see its completion

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