• Dan Owegie

Obaseki Wooing investors, Creating Jobs

Once the right government is enthroned, the people rejoice. Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has not hidden the fact that he is quite knowledgeable and prepared for the job he was elected to do. Since assumption of office, he has been preparing the ground for effective implementation of his electoral promises to citizens of the state.

Recently, Governor Obaseki embarked on a special trip to China with a sole aim of wooing investors to the state. While in China, he reportedly held several meetings with potential investors and told them to come and co-invest in the state in the area of building industrial and agricultural parks in line with the vision of his administration in creating jobs for the teeming unemployed youths of the state.

Aside getting Investors to invest in building Industrial and agricultural parks in the state, Governor Obaseki also wooed some other investors to see how they can come to co-invest with the state in the area of power plant in Gelegele where he is planning to establish a sea port that would open the state up for import and export businesses.. Getting the Chinese to co-invest in the establishment of another power plant in Gelegele would certainly help to boost the development of the sea port to tap the full potentials and opportunities that such an effort would bring to the state. A power plant in Gelegele would obviously complement the Azura plant which the state government has actively supported to bolster power supply in the entire state. Putting more effort and energy in improving power supply in the state and possibly stabilising it is the tonic needed by any society for it to be industrialized. There cannot be industrialization without adequate power supply.

It obviously means that Obaseki is clear-headed as to where he wants to take Edo State to in the next 4-8 years. To give teeth to his latest efforts, the Governor last week inaugurated two Committees. One of them is the Agriculture ad-hoc Committee set up to kick-start reforms in the agricultural sector of the state before a full committee would be formed and this is coming under the government’s Agriculture Empowerment Initiative which aims at revamping the agricultural sector of the state.

It is also a good idea that the committee headed by Chief Osaro Idah is a product of the Public Private Partnership between the State and private sector partners. That is, the state government and private sectors comprising Saro AgroSciences, a leading company in the agribusiness space of Nigeria with expertise in crop production and protection and Afrinvest W.A. Ltd a leading financial advisory service provider in Nigeria and West Africa.

While inaugurating the Committee, Governor Obaseki reportedly explained that the ad hoc committee would help the government implement specific projects, which would create between 50,000 to 80,000 agricultural jobs before the end of the year in five Local Government Areas of the state. The target being .to cultivate 5,000 hectares of maize located in 5 Local Government Areas of the State producing at least 25,000 metric tons of maize in the first year is most welcomed.

Besides this cherry news is the governor’s promise of another 1,000 Greenhouse Farm producing 4,000 metric tons of tomatoes yearly, piggery producing 30,000 animals annually, Golden Cocoa Program primed to turn the State into a major cocoa producing state in the country by improving yield by more than 50% in the first year of implementation.

The Second is a Technical Committee also inaugurated last week and headed by Chief Greg Ero, which is aimed at providing ideas and strategies on how to develop Gelegele Seaport into a Container Terminal. The Governor at the inauguration said the technical committee is set up to oversee the development of the seaport as his government was already discussing with the Federal Ministry of Transport on the possibilities of making the seaport a container terminal.

There is no doubt whatsoever that making the Gelegele seaport a container terminal will boost revenue generation, create more jobs thereby boosting economic activities in the state, more so, when the plan is to have Gelegele port to house an agro-industrial park that would increase exportation of agricultural produce from the state.

From all indications, there is a clear move by the government to promote agriculture, trade and commerce as well as employment which would in turn lead to significant infrastructure development within the Gelegele community and environ Edo people’s expectations from both committees are high. They must, therefore ensure that their terms of reference given by government are strictly adhered to and above all, that they come up with concrete recommendations which takes technology into account for government to proceed with the next phase successfully. Edo people have implicit confidence on Chief Osaro Idah and Chief Greg Ero and have no doubts whatsoever about their capabilities to discharge their duties Beyond inauguration of the two committees, the governor also played host to officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in his office during the week and the governor made good use of the opportunity to solicit the continued support of the apex Bank in his commitment to boost the state’s economy and empower the army of youths in the state. He is obviously committed to some kind of economic revolution that would guarantee youth empowerment in the state.

Linking infrastructure to the anchor-borrowers’ scheme of the Federal Government as promised by the governor during the CBN officials’ visit is a lofty idea. The governor’s promise to build rural roads in areas where farms are located to help farmers transport crops like cassava, tomatoes and other perishable farm produce especially during the rainy season is a welcome idea because this has been lacking over the years.

Also, the government’s plan to collaborate with Benson Idahosa University (BIU) in Benin to convert waste for wealth is wonderful. Part of this big plan is also to generate electricity from wastes as obtained in developed countries. It is incontrovertible that this initiative would not only help to keep the state clean, but will definitely provide job massively for Edo people. It will also lead to the establishment of small and medium scale industries that would be involved in wastes pick up, waste recycling and power generation. All these would trigger economic activities, people’s empowerment and massive job creation.

These lofty plans of the State Government deserves the total support of everyone in Edo State and the federal government. The plans are big and from the efforts and steps taken by the government thus far, it is obvious that they are achievable. That is why every form of support by traditional institutions, religious organisations, Civil Society, media and indeed, every citizen of Edo State need be given to government to enable it achieve these fantastic ideas it has rolled out.

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