Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has urged the Federal Government to encourage Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), saying it will ensure speedy recovery of Nigeria’s economy from the effects of down-turn in oil price.
The Governor made the call in Asaba on Tuesday during a meeting with the Director of Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone Development Authority, Honourable Victor Alabo, who led the management team of the organisation to the Government House.
Governor Okowa acknowledged that there were opportunities for investments existing in the Free Trade Zone that will be established on more than 700 hectares of land within the current location of the Delta Steel Company (DSC).
He explained that the company that took over the operations of DSC had said that apart from rolling out steel at the former output level within 14 months, it was going to partner with other companies to set up petro-chemical industries, among others, in the proposed Free Trade Zone.
According to the Governor, youths in the state had been encouraged to embrace technical education and the empowerment programmes of his administration aimed at churning out entrepreneurs that would be employers of labour in no distant time.
While Briefing reporters, Mr Alabo said they were in Asaba to brief the Governor on the Economic Free Trade Zones in Warri and Aladja and work out a partnership with the state government on the development and provision of enabling environment for investment to thrive in the zones.
The team leader of the British Department for International Development (DFID), Mr. Terry Lacey, has identified agriculture as one of the best ways for job creation especially with the current economic downturn associated with the fall in oil prices in the international market.
He made the declaration during a business visit to the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, to discuss their intention to partner with the state government in the areas of agricultural development.
They presented plans to focus on the private sector, and particularly small farmers because they are the foundation to achieving a stable and sustainable economy for the state.
According to him, if some Deltans decide to become small scale farmers, the internally generated revenue and the agriculture sector would see a tremendous boost and for this to happen the small scale farming has to be recognized by government, big scale farmers and companies.
Acknowledging that the DFID programme falls in line with the Governor’s smart agenda in the area of agricultural boost and wealth creation, he noted that keying into this programme would surely bring about a boost in the state’s agricultural produce.
Expressing satisfaction with the partnership and giving assurances of the state government’s support to the agency, Governor Okowa said that the partnership would boost his efforts towards reducing the number of unemployed people in Delta State.
He reiterated his belief that the agricultural sector was a sure way of boosting the state’s internally generated revenue as well as creating job opportunities for the teeming youths in the state.
He also mentioned that his administration was looking into how it can develop more agro based industries especially in areas with comparative advantage of agro products such as cassava and palm oil.
He added that going into agro processing entails creating market linkages which would form a key factor to the success of the agricultural sector in the state.
The management of Stallion Group, led by Mr Sunil Vaswani, has lauded Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s commitment to the speedy industrialisation of Delta State, assuring that all processes have been put in place for the quick resuscitation of the moribund multi-billion naira Delta Steel Company (DSC).
Speaking with journalists after a closed-door meeting with Governor Okowa and top officials of the Delta State Government in Asaba, the state capital, the Chief Executive Officer of Premium Steel and Mines Limited, a subsidiary of Stallion Group, Mr. Prasanta Mishra, disclosed that Governor Okowa has shown commitment towards speedy industrialization of the state, which has inspired the company to work towards making the DSC operational in December, 2016.
He gave the assurance that despite the dilapidated state of DSC, the December 2016 date was feasible for the company to come on stream.
Acknowledging that the plant is in a very bad shape, Mr Prasanta said that his company is engaging a very good company who was there when the company was made in the 1970s and 1980s, to make the plant functional.
Governor Okowa disclosed that this development is an aftermath of his discussions with the company during his visit to India with President Buhari, to attend the India-African summit.
He disclosed earlier that the Steel Company would commence full operations in 14 months time.
The Governor also said that he had to assemble some of his team to share ideas with the company which is taking over the DSC, asserting that the meeting was very successful and there is the opportunity to ask questions as the group takes over the Delta Steel Complex.
Governor Okowa added that the Steel Company aligned with the state’s agenda to generate employment for the youths, and resuscitating the Bendel Steel Company, the Glass Company and other companies, would help create jobs.
Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has said that the multi-billion naira Delta Steel Company, Aladja would commence full operations in 14 months’ time.
He made this revelation while addressing leaders and elders of Delta North Senatorial District (Anioma nation) who paid him a solidarity visit at Government House, Asaba.
According to the Governor when the steel company becomes fully operational, it would add value to his administration’s commitment to job creation for Delta citizens, disclosing that he had a fruitful discussion with the new owners of the company on the revamping of the steel company during the recent India/Africa Business summit he attended with President Muhammadu Buhari in India.
He also believes that in another 12 to 14 months, the DSC would come alive again with many other companies in the state.
While thanking the people of Delta North for their support and show of solidarity to his administration, the Governor urged the people of Anioma to remain united and cooperate with all ethnic nationalities to move the state forward.
He asserted that the leaders must show examples to their followers so as to engender peace in their areas.
Earlier, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, who spoke on behalf of the Anioma people said that their visit was to show solidarity and support to Governor Okowa.
They congratulated him on his victory at the election petition tribunal, observing that Deltans overwhelmingly voted for the Governor.
Senator Nwaoboshi told the Governor that political leaders and their followers in Anioma have resolved to support his administration to realise vision of prosperity for all Deltans.
The workers of Delta Steel Company in Ovwian Aladja, Delta State have staged a protest at the company’s premises on Tuesday over non-payment of salaries and retirement emoluments.
They however, appealed to the Federal Government to intervene in the salaries and retirement emoluments owed them since 1995.
The workers wondered why their welfare is not being addressed as part of the privatisation efforts of the Federal Government for the company in the past years.
They also expressed confidence in the ability of the President Buhari-led administration to address their problems.