Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and his economic team had once again shown commitment to reduce dependence on oil and gas which was perceived to be the economic bedrock of the state, even as he successfully organized a 2-day “Corporate Nigeria Stakeholders’ and Investors Forum”.
The event took place at the United Nations Headquaters in New York, United States of America, on July 29th and 30th, 2013, according to a statement issued by the Delta state Commissioner for Information, Barr. Chike Ogeah and made available to Blank NEWS Online.
According to the statement, “This unusual tranformation agenda and purposeful paradigm shift largely concentrates on economic opportunities in the state in areas such as agriculture, tourism, telecommunication, transportation, power generation to mention but a few, through a Public Private Partnership initiative.
“For this reason, the government is wooing investors in diaspora especially from United States of America and other developed economies in the world into the state so as to apply expertise in all fields for the development of the state. According to them it will equally help to foster wealth creation, capacity building and ultimately expansion of human capital development.”
At the Forum, Delta state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who was represented by the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr Kingsley Emu, while presenting a key note address with the title “Harnessing Investment Opportunities in Delta State”, affirmed that Delta state is not just an investment destination but that the state has also created enabling environment which has afforded investors to get value for thier money and to also recoup their capital within the framework of their revenue projection.
Mr Emu had emphasised that “Delta Beyond Oil” initiative has recorded many milestones in the overall interest of the good people of Delta, especially the less privileged.
“Where we are now in terms of policy direction is Delta Beyond Oil. What we are saying is that when the oil wells eventually run dry what are those things we should do with the revenue from oil in the decades while the oil wells lasted. How can we diversify our economy using our areas of comparative advantage? The major ones are the micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs).The success of the MSMEs underscores what we have always believed; that is, Delta is a land of limitless possibilities in terms of human capital and natural resources. Out of all these possibilities, we thought the one we could advance to the next level would be the MSMEs. This is because this happens to be where we have been doing very well. To our credit we have won four consecutive Central Bank of Nigeria awards. When you talk about MSMEs, you must involve agriculture whether it is agrarian farming or aquaculture, Delta State is 60 percent riverine and we are maximizing this advantage very well for the economic good of the state. There are two ministries that are coordinating these MSMEs; the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation which incubates them and brings them to life before they are passed to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry which takes them to medium and possibly big industries. This is one of the initiatives driving our Delta Beyond Oil vision.”
In the areas of human capital development Mr Emu said: “Let me also tell you that we are remodeling our schools all over the state. That’s a huge investment in the future of our children. We have e-libraries, air-conditioned classroom blocks, excellent sporting facilities. We are building 50 model schools, the type never before seen in the state. Don’t forget that Delta State unlike most states has about 21 big towns and cities. We are also offering scholarships to our graduates who make First Class Honours in various fields to pursue further studies in abroad this has greatly boost our efforts in terms of human capital development.”
As part of boost to the stakeholders’ investors forum, a member of House of Representative Committee on Diaspora Affairs, who represented Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Hon Joseph Akinlaja in his presentation talked about the opportunities Nigerians in diaspora stand to benefit and the need for them to come back home to invest. He maintained that the Federal Government will not renege in her promise in the release of the Diaspora Bond. The message reads in parts:
“According to the World Bank, Nigeria is one of the world’s fastest growing emerging economies. No one needs to tell you what this means- a billion investment opportunities lie in various sectors, with a lot of these sectors largely untapped-Agriculture, Information Technology, Medicine, Mining, Textiles, Electricity, Energy- the list goes on. To be more empirical, there is an organization called the Nigerians in Diaspora Alumni Network (NIDAN). NIDAN is an organizations that consists of former Nigerians in Diaspora that have returned home, and now own thriving businesses. They lend support to one another, and I am sure they will continue to capitalize on investment and growth opportunities in the Nigerian economy. Most of these successful businesses are in medicine, IT Tech firms, entertainment industry, and several other professions.”
Hon Akinlaja read further, “With respect to the Diaspora Bond, we know the Federal Government has plans to issue a $500 million Diaspora by issuing a first tranche of $100 million in 2013. This will be a major milestone in the process of involving our Nigerians in Diaspora in the development of the Nigerian economy. As said earlier, there are lots of opportunities for development that these funds can be put to. Also, of all the countries in Africa, Nigeria received $21 billion in remittances from its citizens abroad, putting us at number one in Africa. This fact, along with the success of the Nigeria’s $1 billion Eurobond in 2013 promises to show that Diaspora bond will be a very viable agent of investment and development in Nigeria. Nigeria remains an attractive investment destination for anyone, no matter the challenge see face today as a nation. We have the human and material resources in abundance. You are part of the solution; let us do all we can to make Nigeria the great country that we know it can be.”
However, the forum, organised by Heartlink Group was officially endorsed by the Embassy of Federal Republic of Nigeria and was fully attended by all target groups, giving rooms for participants to ask questions from the officials of Delta State government to clear all the grey linings about investment opportunities in the state.
Meanwhile, the Delta state Commissioner for Information, Barr. Chike Ogeah, in an appraisal of the 2-day Corporate Nigeria Stakeholders’ & Investors’ Forum, noted that although the memorable event has come and gone, the tempo to achieve the forum’s aims and objectives of bridging the gap between potential investors in Nigeria and in the Diaspora has been effectively put into motion with a synergy of input and support from professionals from various industries.
The forum which was sponsored by Delta State Government attracted a powerful delegation of the state’s economic team, just as various topics were treated to address the theme at hand some of which include, “The Nigerian Investment Environment – Opportunities and Challenges”, BY ENGR FALOBI; “Disseminating Delta Beyond Oil Message”, by CHIKE OGEAH, while Mr. Kingsley Emu diligently took the audience through INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES TO ENHANCE ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT with particular focus on Delta State, where an urgent need for a Nigeria Investment Summit Group was also explored.
However, the turning point of the event was when Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the Executive Governor of Delta State was presented with Excellence Award in Governance as well as his ardent support of Arts / Culture in Nigeria by the Consul- General of the Consulate of Nigeria to New York, Ambassador Habib Habu for the CNSF team. The award was received on Dr. Uduaghan’s behalf by his Chief of Staff, Dr. Festus Okubor.
Nigerian artistes including Mike Aremu, Gbenga Adeyinka, Jimmyjatt among others were also showcased to add colour to the purposeful Diaspora event.
In attendance were Mrs Vivian Okeke representing Prof Ade Adefuye, Ambassador/Head of Mission Embassy of Nigeria to USA, Hon. Habiba Baba Habu, the Consul General of the Consulate of Nigeria in New York, Hon Chike Ogeah, Delta State Commissioner for Information, Arc. TC Awagu, President, Institute of Directors, and Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce, MD/CEO, Kresta Laurel Nigeria Limited, Engr Dideolu Falobi.
Others were Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Global Excellence, Mayor Akinpelu, Norman Sixth Wokoma, Hon Oma Djebah, Senior Adviser to Delta State Governor on Foreign Relations, Dr Ayodeji Fred Mafikuyomi, Mr Michael Agbolade Adeniyi, Wale Rauf’ Sokunle, Benjamin Okpeseyi, MD/CEO of Heartlink Ventures Limited Nigeria, Kemi Otegbade among others.