By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
The Enyimba Economic City Project received a boost recently as Abia State and Federal Government signed Definitive Agreements .Definitive Agreements are documents defining the final terms of an agreement between buyer and seller, typically of a company’s assets or stock.
In the words of President Muhammadu Buhari who witnessed the event, “such initiatives were exactly what his administration was looking for to create employment for the people and boost the economy”.
The project which is expected to begin in 2019 as a private public partnership (PPP) of Crown Realties Plc, the host communities, Abia, and the federal government, targets over 625,000 jobs, urban housing of over 300,000 units, urban population of more than 1.5 million people. It is also projected to provide more than 2,000 industrial/ business units, with estimated annual value output of more than $5 billion.
According to Gov Okezie Ikpeazu,Aba, the location of the project,” is strategically located for easy access from all south-east and south-south states”.
The governor added that“Aba alone has over 250,000 artisans engaged in various arts and trades; the Enyimba City zone covers three local governments of the state. The project would not only be of immense benefit to Abia state but to the entire region and country.”
The economic benefits of the project cannot be overemphasised. Aba, the economic hub of Abia State is blessed with over 250,000 artisans engaged in various arts and trades, and that the Enyimba City zone covers three local governments of the state.
The project is a Private Public Partnership (PPP) initiative of Abia State Government and Crown Realties PLC, Under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of Enyimba Industrial Development Company Limited, under which it is proposed to develop a new Industrial Township in Aba, spanning from Akwa Ibom State boundary of Abia State to Imo State boundary, on a West/ East of Enugu/PortHacourt highway and covering 9600 Hectares to include Industrial Park, Logistics, Entertainment Village, Medical, ICT hubs, among others.
It is aso designated as a Special Economic Zone by the Federal Government and will have Free Trade Zone statuswith the intention of connecting South-East states and four out of the six states in the south south.
While the vision of the project is todevelop a connected global business hub in southeast Nigeria; the mission is to create economic hub central to the nine southeast and south south states linked with high grade access roads, rails, airport and seaports that will transform the region into a manufacturing and industrial powerhouse, with ancillary drivers of commerce, logistics, entertainment, education, health and lifestyle living.
In the Advisory Board of Enyimba Economic City Development are seasoned administrators and technocrats such Dr Pascal Dozie Chairman,. Mr. C. Darl Uzu Vice Chairman/CEO,Prof Barth Nnaji,Dr. Abraham Nwankwo,Elder Emmanuel Adaelu.Others are Sen. Adolphus Wabara, Prof. Anya O. Anya, Chief Sam Nwaogu , Dr. Paul Ananaba, SAN,Ambassador Empire Kanu, Amb. Tom Aguiyi Ironsi ,Mr. Ugochukwu Okoroafor,Mr. Austin Ufomba,and Mr. Chibuzor Ekwekwuo.
It is important to note here that one of the designs of the project is to designed to close economic gap the gap of Port-Harcurt and Aba which constitute two energetic cwntres in the SouthEast and South South regions.
Like Gov. Ikoeazu rightly posited:“If we close the gap, what it means is that there is a fusion in terms of creating a new hub that can compare with what you see in Dubai today.
“I have moved on from made in Aba to make in Aba; Aba people and Abia people and Nigerians are capable of producing things.
“So, we are now saying come and make, come and produce; we have created an environment that we can say is good enough.”
Some of the infrastructure to be provided in the city to include a gas basin because of the abundant gas deposits in the state and a narrow gauge rail line, which will link Abonima wharf and Onne wharf in Port-Harcourt to Aba.
This project is apt now that nations of the world are diversifying to the non-oil sector.For instance, Saudi Arabia’s 10th Development Plan, for the period 2015-19, emphasises the need to diversify the country’s economy and reduce its reliance on oil, which accounts for 90% of fiscal revenues and 80% of export revenues, and also highlights the need to provide livelihoods for future generations. Industrial enterprises that can add value to the Saudi economy in this way will find businesses in the Kingdom keen to engage in joint ventures, and will also be able to tap government funds and land to facilitate project development.
Also,The Saudi Arabian Company for Industrial Investment was formed in 2014 with SR2bn ($533m) in capital and will invest SR7.5bn ($2bn) in the next five years in a programme targeting conversion industries that rely on non-oil manufactured products, including petrochemicals, plastics, fertilisers and steel. The company is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and the Public Investment Fund.
This gives credence to the statement credited to President Buhari during the signing if the Definitive Agreements that” such initiatives were exactly what his administration was desperately looking for to create employment for the populace and boost the national economy”.
On this note, Abians should join the President in commending Gov Ikpeazu for initiating the project. We shoukd also rely on the assurances of the President thus:”everyone should be more confident of the the success of the project since the Minister of Trade and Investments, Okechukwu Enelamah, under whose portfolio it falls, hails from Abia State”.