Governor of Oyo state, Abiola Ajimobi has sealed a mega deal with China Polaris, for a two billion Dollar Free Trade Zone Project, sited along the Lagos/Ibadan expressway, Ibadan.
The FTZ is expected to deal exclusively with the manufacturing of automotive products, solar power generation, medi-care and allied products, ornaments among others.
Already standing on a massive 1,000 hectares of land in Ibadan, the state capital, the governor’s vision to industrialize Oyo State and raise the standard of living is now having some semblance of reality.
Just before commencement of construction on the site, Governor Ajimobi had expressed optimism that the project tagged ‘Polaris Pacesetter Free Trade Zone’, would be “the new hub of the African economy” when completed.
Royalty, security chiefs, and members of the diplomatic corps all defied the scorching sun to witness history being made by the Governor at the groundbreaking ceremony.
The event marked the commencement of serious construction work on the Free Trade Zone, one which is described as the first of its kind in Africa.
Mr Ajimobi said the event was the outcome of a journey of five years of intensive hunt for investors in core economic activities, and a result of his determination to achieve growth and sustained development in the state.
Describing China as the fastest growing economy in the world, Ajimobi said that the industrial template to be propelled by the Polaris-Pacesetter Free Trade Zone, would enhance agricultural, commercial, educational and infrastructural development in the state.
The President of China Polaris, Mr Zhang Wendong, and the Leader of Delegation who is the representative of the Chinese government, Ms Zhang Xuemei, assured the state as well as people of Oyo, of the investors’ irrevocable commitment to the project.
They confirmed that the first phase of the project, which comprises of five factories, would gulp about 159bn Naira ($500m), and is expected to be completed before the end of the first quarter of 2017, while the entire project is expected to be completed in the next two years.
Mr Wendong hinted that the conglomerate would ensure the completion of the last phase of the project within the given timeline.
While giving the project profile, project facilitator, Dr. Mufutau Raheem, said the Oyo FTZ is unique in every sense, and a sister Free Trade Zone in Guye, China, would also be working in synergy with the one created in Ibadan.
This according to him is also aimed at strengthening bilateral ties between China and Oyo State.
For Sons and Daughters of Oyo state, especially inhabitants of Oluyole local government area, a major hurdle militating against appreciable development has been surmounted.