The National Security Adviser (NSA) Babagana Monguno has said government would withdraw the operating licenses of fertilizer plants in Nigeria over alleged exports that have caused scarcity.
He spoke in Abuja during a meeting with representatives of Notore Petrochemical and Indorama Eleme Petrochemical, the only companies licensed to manufacture fertilizer in the country following a recent ban on importation.
He said government would not hesitate to close and withdraw the operating license of any company that exports products without first meeting local consumption.
The NSA explained that discoveries showed that Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) used by terrorists were developed mainly from certain grades of fertilizer which contained nitrate using Urea Nitrate.
He said a ban on importation was placed to control the ease with which the product was readily available to terrorists, and also to improve local manufacturing of fertilizers.
Monguno said: “The cumulative annual production of the two companies is estimated at 2.5 million metric tonnes, while Nigeria’s estimated consumption rate is 1.1 million metric tonnes, which is 53 percent of production.”
He noted that the companies had the opportunity to cumulatively export about 47 percent of their production.
However reports of activities of these companies had indicated that about 71 percent of the 2.05 million metric tonnes cumulative annual production was being exported to the detriment of our national economy, he said.
“This has resulted in spikes in the prices of urea-based fertilizers in Nigeria with obvious implications in food security in the country,” Monguno added.
The Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Notore Petrochemical, Appolo Goma however said the company was not aware of what the sharp practices were prior to the invitation for the meeting.
“The last time we exported was sometime in January. Due to the seasonal nature of fertilizer sales, in the off season we have no option but to export, because demands in local markets reduce significantly,” he said.
Attempts to get comments from Indorama were unsuccessful at the time of going to press.
Monguno also said investigations following the bombing of oil facilities in the Niger Delta region showed that 9,000 kilograms of high explosives and 16, 420 pieces of detonators had been diverted for illegal use.
He said this was discovered in a detailed audit of records of explosives, magazines and quarries in that region.
He said: “The actors including a store man of a major explosive distribution company in Nigeria, an accomplice and five security operatives have been arrested and handed over to appropriate authority.”
One of the biggest challenges confronting farmers particularly rice and maize farmers is the federal government’s policy on the distribution of Urea fertilizer.
The military had alleged that some terrorists were using the brand of fertilizer to produce bombs and other explosives.
In March this year, many truckloads of urea fertilizer belonging to Notore Chemical Industries in Port Harcourt were detained at the Maigumeri Barracks in Lokoja, Kogi State, after being arrested by soldiers on the orders of the military high command.
The company at that time said 156 trucks, each carrying 600 bags of fertilizer were held for weeks.
This action created serious scarcity of the product in many parts of the North and forced increased in prices. The National President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Architect Kabiru Ibrahim, recently said unless the government made a quick intervention in fertilizer supply, there may be poor harvest this year.