The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the concessioning of 20 out of its 33 Silos to private sector operators at the cost of $17 million (N6 billion).
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, revealed this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
He said the Silos built at different parts of the country were being concessioned for 10 years.
“Today, we presented a memo to Council, seeking approval to concession the Silos which have been built in different parts of the country over the past 10 years.
“A total of 33 Silos exist with a capacity of 1,360,000 metric tons of grains and they are spread almost evenly through the geo-political zones of the country.
“In 2014 government decided to privatise or concession some of these Silos so that the private sector can help, use them for a fee to the Federal Government.
“The process was carried out by World Bank, the concession committee of the government, NGOs, the private sector and the Ministry of Agriculture.
“It has taken this long to arrive at this because the processes are very slow, we wanted absolute accountability,’’ he said.
According to him, six of the 33 Silos will be retained by the Federal Government.
“We informed them that the fact that we are concessioning some of the silos does not mean we are reneging on our responsibility to guarantee food security.
“We are keeping six of the silos which is according to international standard, we keep five per cent of all the grains we harvest every year, the rest will go to private sector groups.
“Those who bided and have shown capacity have been the ones allocated the Silos, those who are unable to manage them will have the concession revoked.
“Government will earn $17 million (N6 billion) in the 10-year period of the first instance.
“The Federal Government remains the owner of the silos and at the end of 10 years it can either renew, revoke or takeover the Silos and operate them ourselves.
“We have requests for grains from different parts of the world, soya beans, sesame, sorghum and millet. We also have massive rice production going on and the likes of Dangote and Coscharis going into rice production now need these silos.
“So concessioning it to them means they will organise local groups to produce grains for them to dry properly and store and market when the need arises or even export.’’
The minister expressed the hope that the private sector operators had the capacity to operate and maintain the silos successfully.