Advocacy for Integrity and Economic Development (AIED), an NGO, on Friday urged the Federal Government to amicably resolve the dispute between the major players in the sugar industry, irrespective of the strong positions of parties involved.
Mr Seun John, AIED Director of Publicity, gave the charge in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
NAN reports that Dangote Sugar Plc, supported by Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, accused BUA International Limited of skirting the backward integration policy of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) by setting up a sugar refinery in Port Harcourt.
The NGO noted that the media space has been awash with bickering reports between major players in the sugar industry, laced with accusations of monopoly, sharp practices and insincerity among the big industry players.
The AIED official said that the conflict required the urgent attention of the federal government for amicable resolution in the interest of Nigerians and in preserving the gains of the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).
The NGO noted that the NSMP remained a flagship programme that had helped transform the near-dead sugar industry into a production powerhouse and set the importation dependant sector into a considerable employer of labour and national pride.
“The federal government must provide the needed leadership to preserve the gains of this noble programme which has thrown to the dustbin of history the locust years of mere local processing of sugar at 30,000 metric tons.
“The government can do this by ensuring that all industry players adhere strictly to the guidelines of the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) and most importantly, the sincerity of purpose,” he said.
John said that only a holistic approach to resolving the issues raised by parties concerned could truly bring about the needed change, and such an approach must consider some areas.
He explained that MDAs in charge of national policy monitoring must ensure and verify compliance with the BIP and NSMP among industry players as against the current system of self-reporting system adopted by the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC).
The director said there must be correlation between establishing sugar refinery and cultivating sugar cane as it concerns the quota regulation of the BIP.
He noted that while refineries were essential, it does not help the value chain system the NSMP was supposed to promote, and as such, application of BIP into such endeavour endangers the holistic approach to self-sufficiency in the sugar industry.
“The importance of the issues raised above can not be underestimated as it forms the basis of the rancour brewing in the industry.
He noted that allowing companies to self-report simply suggests that importers should self-report on the number of goods they brought into the country without proper confirmation and checks by officers of the Nigerian Customs.
“We hope for the benefit of millions of Nigerians who now rely on the effective NSMP; the federal government will rise to save the day,” John said. (NAN)