By Louis Amoke
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration in a recent business engagement with a Chinese Investment Company, Lion Business Park Limited, recorded a major breakthrough in its spirited efforts to attract direct foreign investments to the state for economic recovery and diversification.
The company, is partnering the state government under a Public Private Partnership (PPA) initiative to build an industrial market on a 2000 hectares of land located in the proximity of the Enugu Industrial Park – FTZ ( ENPOWER Free Trade Zone) at the 9th Mile Corner, Enugu, to be known as Lion Business Park, modeled after the Dragon Market in Dubai.
It is interesting to note that the new business investment was a fallout of the first ever Enugu State Investment Summit, tagged “Oganiru Enugu”, organized by Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration, in April 2016, to showcase the economic potentials of the state in line with its promise to vigorously promote investment and pursue the diversification of the state’s economy.
The Lion Business Park project is, therefore, a bold initiative of the present administration designed to establish an integrated manufacturing industrial hub that will facilitate Chinese manufacturers’ entry into the state to feed the Nigerian and African market through the existing sales channels in Nigeria and the West African Sub-region in partnership with Nigerian business organizations.
It was strategically initiated to leverage on the thriving trade cooperation between Nigerian Business structures and their foreign counterparts, especially from China, for the purpose of furthering their mutual interests in a more profitable, affordable and convenient setting.
Displaying maximum commitment to the course of the business initiative, the Enugu State government recently facilitated the formal presentation of N300 million worth of cheque to three communities of Ogwofia Owa, Enugu Eke and Akama Oghe by the company as agreed compensation for the economic items, on the acquired land for the development of the project.
The cheque presentation was not only a pivotal step towards the commencement and actualization of the project, but also gave credence to the governor’s promise to proactively promote and attract private investment to the state through policies and programmes that would generate employment as well as boost the state’s economy for sustainable development.
It would be recalled that Gov. Ugwuanyi in his inaugural address promised that his administration “will drive with full force investment promotion…” and “provide the necessary legal and policy framework to make investment thrive” in the state.
The governor also promised to give attention to the 9th Mile Corner, “a long overlooked economic hub” to harness its potentials to enjoy the full benefits of its newly acquired status as a Free Trade Zone. He noted that the initiatives will speed up urban development, generate employment, create fresh economic opportunities and reduce pressure on Enugu metropolis.
Reiterating his administration’s commitment to enter into strategic partnership with the private sector in agricultural development and industrialization to alleviate the sufferings of the people, he revealed that his government had carefully designed policies that will generate employment and provide the platform to partner with the private sector.
It is pertinent to note that during the cheque presentation ceremony, Gov. Ugwuanyi who was represented by his deputy, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, appreciated the massive benefits the project will bring to the economy of the state. He stated that such an enduring business venture was apt and will “stimulate investment inflow in diverse sectors of the economy and create a huge economic value chain that would engender employment as well as production and availability of much needed goods and services”.
Declaring that “Enugu State is ready and open for business”, Gov. Ugwuanyi reassured all foreign partners and potential investors of his administration’s resolve to sustain the business-friendly environment that exists in the state, disclosing that with the approval of the State Executive Council, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the company for the establishment of the Lion Business Park. He added that it was agreed that “the investors shall among other benefits, pay compensation for economic items on the land to the host communities through the state government”.
While appreciating the state’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, indigenes of the three host communities, members of the land acquisition steering committee and others who contributed to the successful acquisition of the land, the governor equally commended the company for the prompt fulfillment of “this very important term of the MOU”.
Expressing gratitude, the state’s Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Barr. Sam Ogbu-Nwobodo, applauded Gov. Ugwuanyi for his dexterity, vision, innovation, fiscal discipline, transparency, good governance and other structural and institutional initiatives aimed at driving massive investment inflow into the state’s economy.
The visibly elated Commissioner noted that the event was a major breakthrough geared towards the full actualization of the investment vision of the present administration in Enugu State, disclosing that the state has “witnessed a sustained high level of investment inflow”, as a consequential effect of the governor’s tenacious commitment to investment promotion.
According to him, “Your Excellency, you are today witnessing what I make bold to say is the fruit of your focused and genuine commitment to the rapid industrial and general economic development of the state. This is borne out of your deep devotion to the welfare of the people of Enugu State.
“Your Excellency’s interactive sessions with the revered Traditional Rulers, Presidents General of the various communities and most importantly, about fifty-one indigenous Professors from the areas were quite engaging and productive.”
In a nutshell, the commissioner stated that the state government’s vision “is to create a conducive and profitable environment for Chinese companies to produce in Nigeria ahead of other countries and to enhance strong and enduring bi-lateral ties between the Peoples Republic of China and the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
While presenting the cheque to the host communities, the Chairman of Lion Business Park Limited, Dr. Okechukwu Mbonu also commended Gov. Ugwuanyi for his “great vision in making Enugu State a West African industrial hub”, saying that the company is only complementing what his administration has already started in the state.
Appreciating how committed and desirous, Gov. Ugwuanyi is to have the project come to fruition, Dr. Mbonu assured him of the foreign partners’ determination to actualize their mandate in a record time and went further to thank the host communities for their support, sacrifices and understanding.
From the above narrative, it is implicitly established that Gov. Ugwuanyi has risen above all odds, to make due his promise to drive investment promotion in the state, in a way it would add value to the lives of the people as well as the state’s economy. His administration’s flame of innovatory investment initiatives has spewed out from the incubation, yielding the desired positive results, with a clear message that Enugu State is indeed ready and open for business.
Confirming the above, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Limited, Chief Allen Onyema, had during a recent meeting with Gov. Ugwuanyi on the economic development of the South East region, described the governor as “a visionary and forward thinking governor who has assembled technocrats to think about what to do for his people”.
The Air Peace boss, who disclosed the company’s vision to use the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, as the economic hub of Africa, to enable the nation play its leading role in the continent, was on a good note to add that the decision to establish business in Enugu was based on its assessment of the governor’s leadership qualities, positive impacts in governance and commitment to investment promotion.
“We have in Governor Ugwuanyi the best governor in the South East. He is very visionary, he has brought many technocrats together to think about what he will do for his people. So, we want to align ourselves with his dreams and that is why we decided to choose Enugu International Airport among all the Airports in Nigeria for our business investment”, Onyema said.
As Gov. Ugwuanyi has taken the lead to make the coal city state the ultimate destination for tourism and business investments, the onus is, therefore, on the public to support this brave initiative as well as the concerted effort of his administration towards improving the living standard of the people of the state – the true heroes of democracy, for Enugu State is truly in the hands of God.
Amoke writes from Enugu State