It is a great honour for me to give the vote of thanks to all who have contributed in one way or the other towards making this Summit clearly aligns with the pragmatic and focused economic drive of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR in economic diversification as the way forward for Nigeria to achieve sustainable development, inclusive growth, as well as serve as a bulwark for its economy against the vagaries of oil market.
2. Cocoa is a prime commodity among our cash crops and very important to our economy as a leading agricultural export. It was a major foreign exchange earner in the 1950s and the second largest producer in but due to the lure of the splurge of oil dollars and the ensuing undue and unfortunate fixation on the oil sector in the 1970s and 1980s, our share of world output declined remarkably.
3. I am glad to however say that we are back on track, especially with our diversification agenda focusing heavily on agricultural renaissance under the able, dynamic and purposeful change administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, targeting sustained boost in food production to ensure self sufficiency and for export in addition to creating opportunities for good and decent jobs and secure livelihoods for our citizenry.
4. Therefore, Your Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, this is why I am most delighted to first and foremost express my profound gratitude to Almighty God, who out of His infinite mercy made this summit possible.
5. Our special thanks go to His Excellency, The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR for the approval and support to ensure the success of this event. Your Excellency, we say a big thank you sir for your commitment and continued guidance. We appreciate the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelemah, who arrived just this morning and insisted on being here, for his invaluable support, and encouragement. We appreciate the support of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who is here representing his Excellency, Mr. President and in his own capacity as the Minister responsible for production of Cocoa in Nigeria, who never misses an opportunity to be where matters of farm produce are being deliberated. Worthy of sincere appreciation in no particular order is the Leadership and Members of the National Assembly. Most Distinguished Senate President, Rt. Honourable Speaker, Committee Chairman; Industry, Trade and Investment, Leadership and Members of both Houses, we say thank you.
6. I cannot conclude this vote of thanks without giving special thanks to the Executive Director, International cocoa organisation (ICCO), Dr. Jean Marc Angal; your sterling leadership has brought new dynamism into the organisation, characterized by the strategic policies that have enlarged immeasurably the horizons of our continental body. The Afreximbank President, Dr. Benedict Oramah, we are deeply indebted to you for being the major sponsor of this event. On behalf of the Nigeria Government and cocoa community in Nigeria, I say a big thank you. Let me also extend our very sincere appreciation to the Governors of all the Cocoa producing states and collaborating states for their valuable support.
7. Ladies and gentlemen, we would not be here today if not for the tireless effort of the Cocoa Stakeholders. Special thanks to the President of Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), Mr. Sayina Riman, the President of Cocoa Processors of Nigeria (COPAN), Akin Olusuyi and other players in the Cocoa Industry.
8. I wish to thank all the resource persons and the discussants here to share their knowledge and experiences. We understand that you have taken time out of your very important and tight schedules to contribute to this Summit, and some of you have even travelled at very short notice.
9. It would not be appropriate to conclude this vote of thanks without special appreciation to the Director, Commodities and Products Inspectorate Department of the Ministry (CPI), Ms. O. B. OPE-EWE and her diligent staff who have been the driving force behind this whole process. I also want to thank the Inter-Ministerial Planning Committee, who provided all the logistics required to make this event a success. You deserve commendations for the job you are doing.
10. I thank the Cocoa farmers and exhibitors who are attending this Summit as an expression of their support and commitment to the development of the Cocoa industry and the Nigerian economy as a whole.
11. Finally, I wish all our invited dignitaries and other stakeholders a good stay in Abuja and very safe return to your respective destinations.
12. Thank you and God bless this gathering.