Ambode: Lekki Free Zone Key to Diversifying Nigerian Economy

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• Urges cooperative societies to tap into zone

Gboyega Akinsanmi

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, has explained the strategic importance of Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ), noting that the zone was purely conceived to diversify Nigeria’s domestic economy.

The governor, therefore, urged all cooperative societies in the state, especially high-net worth operators, to take advantage of several investment opportunities, which he said, the zone had readily offered.
He made the remark at the 2016 International Cooperative Day in Ikeja, where he described investment in the zone as a viable way for economic diversification and 24/7 industrial production.

Ambode, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Food Security, Mr. Mr. Ganiu Okanlawon-Sanni, explained that the zone was a special purpose vehicle “to diversify our domestic economy.”
He added that the zone “was specifically developed to provide conducive environment for a 24/7 industrial production of exportable goods and revive Nigeria’s manufacturing sector.”

Consequently, according to the governor, the zone remains an economic hub for business or commercial activities with the presence of several multinationals and manufacturing companies.

However, the governor lamented that business potentials available to cooperative societies in the country was yet to be adequately harnessed for economic benefits despite their huge capital base.
Ambode promised to provide enabling environment for profitable investment of cooperative funds in addition to honing the skills of cooperators for positive contribution to the State’s development.

“I am aware that cooperatives societies have been established as far back as 1948, which then means that overtime we have failed to tap the huge potentials in this sub-sector.”

He explained the core reason the state government established the State’s Cooperative College at Oko-Oba, Agege, noting that the college was established “to boost interest in cooperative activities.”
Ambode described the business model of cooperative societies as durable, contemporary, resilient and relevant in harnessing the synergy engendered by cooperative businesses.

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Mr. Rotimi Ogunleye, said the vision of the Ambode administration was “to position the cooperative societies as strong players in the state’s economic development initiatives.

“The International Day of Cooperatives is a huge platform to celebrate cooperators’ collective efforts and showcase the dynamics and contributions of the Cooperative Movement to economic development.
“In Lagos State, the contributions of cooperatives are visible in various sectors and activities notably transportation, job creation, housing and infrastructure. Cooperative societies have housing schemes through which they deliver affordable houses to the people.”