*Acting President adds: Indorama’s success story a manifestation of Buhari’s vision for a truly private sector-driven economy
“It is impossible for government to ever be able to provide all the capital needed to invest in infrastructure, or to catalyze economic activity. The best that we can do, and what we should be putting all our energy into, as government, is acting as a catalyst, an enabler, supporting private capital to achieve maximum impact in an economy that so desperately needs all the investment it can get.’’
“ What Indorama is accomplishing today is very much in line with President Buhari’s vision for a country that produces what it consumes and grows what it eats.’’
Speech delivered by the Acting President and Chairman, National Council on Privatisation, NCP, His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, at the formal release ceremony to discharge Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited, IEPL, from the Monitoring Programme of BPE on July 27, 2017 at IEPL Complex, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
First, let me say how pleased I am to be here today. There are two events taking place here today: the first is the formal release ceremony to discharge Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited, (IEPL), from the mandatory Monitoring Programme of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), and the second is the commissioning of the Indorama Eleme Fertilizer and Petrochemicals Plant.
2. Going back to the first event, you will recall that in 2006, 75% of Eleme Petrochemical Limited’s equity was sold to Indorama Consortium Ltd, the present Core Investor of the Company, for US$225million while 10% was sold to the NNPC Pension Fund for US$30million. Following this, the company was handed over to its new owners on October 26, 2006.
3. In 2009, the National Council on Privatization (NCP) graciously approved the sale of 7.5% and 2.5% of the remaining government’s 15% reserved equity in the company to the community and staff of the company respectively, leaving a balance of 5% with the BPE on-behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).
4. Following the 2006 handover, the BPE carried out routine monitoring on the enterprise to ensure that the core investor adhered to and implemented the post-acquisition plan it had laid out for the company.
5. Today is the culmination of that process of monitoring and oversight by the BPE. I am delighted that it is taking place on an inspiring and hopeful note, and that we are all here today celebrating a thriving and promising company. We should not take this state of affairs for granted.
6. The Buhari administration is unequivocally committed to the success of the private sector. This is why a lot of our focus has been on significantly improving the business environment for businesses, small and large.
7. Last year, President Buhari established a Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), whose results are now starting to be felt across the country. The kind of economic growth and prosperity that we’re aiming for cannot happen without private capital, and that private capital cannot be unlocked without reforming the business environment by removing obstacles and roadblocks to investment and to business operations.
8. We know for a fact that it is impossible for government to ever be able to provide all the capital needed to invest in infrastructure, or to catalyze economic activity. The best that we can do, and what we should be putting all our energy into, as government, is acting as a catalyst, an enabler, supporting private capital to achieve maximum impact in an economy that so desperately needs all the investment it can get.
9. And this is the entire point of the privatization programme in the first place – it is about getting government out of the way so that businesses can do what they need to do to create jobs and prosperity. I’m glad that we’re here today to see one of the success stories of the Federal Government’s privatisation programme.
10. What Indorama is accomplishing today is very much in line with President Buhari’s vision for a country that produces what it consumes and grows what it eats. If you had to sum up our vision for the Nigerian economy in a few words, these would suffice. Grow what we eat, produce what we consume.
11. At the end of last year, the President launched a Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, to ensure the availability of cheaper fertilizer to our farmers, to support what we’re doing in agriculture, in the production of rice and wheat and other staples.
12. That Fertilizer Initiative, now well underway, has created significant economic opportunities for companies like the IEPL. I have been informed that Indorama will this year alone supply about 360,000 MT of Urea to Fertilizer blenders, who will in turn produce NPK fertilizer for the benefit of farmers across the country. This is the kind of economic progress we’re after, in which every unlocked opportunity proceeds to unlock several others, across multiple sectors of the economy.
13. In equally exciting news, Indorama has now pushed ahead deeper into the value chain by going into fertilizer production. Their Fertilizer plant, commissioned today, is, I am told, is one of the largest in the world, designed to produce 1.5 mts of Urea fertilizer per annum, for the domestic and foreign markets.
14. We will continue to support Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited’s expansion ambitions. Our commitment to the privatization programme is equally assured, and we will continue to do everything to support investors to maximize the potential of their assets.
15. It is worthy of note that Indorama Eleme is not just a privatization success it also has the important component of part community ownership so that the local community and workers are stakeholders in this enterprise. This is good practice and a model for ownership of natural resource based industries in the future.
16. In conclusion, let me emphasise the need for IEPL to continue to cooperate and collaborate with the BPE. Indorama’s graduation from this Monitoring Programme shouldn’t be an excuse to depart from best practice, or from the operational discipline that comes with oversight.
17. And in the near future I expect that the Nigerian public will get a chance to partake in the fortunes of this company.
18. On this note, let me say a hearty congratulation to Indorama. It is now my pleasure to present the certificate of discharge to Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited. (Reads the content of the certificate before presenting to management of company)
19. I thank you all for your kind attention. God bless Indorama, God bless Rivers State, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.