Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyiâ€™s administration recorded a major breakthrough in its effort to attract foreign direct investments to the state with a recent business engagement with a Chinese investment company, Lion Business Park Limited. The company is partnering the state government under a public private partnership to build an industrial market on a 2000-hectare 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, modelled after the Dragon Market in Dubai.
It is interesting to note that the new business investment is the outcome of the first ever Enugu State Investment Summit, tagged â€œOganiru Enuguâ€, organised by the Ugwuanyi administration in April last year, to showcase the economic potentials of the state. The Lion Business Park project is a bold initiative of the present administration designed to establish an integrated manufacturing industrial hub that will facilitate Chinese manufacturersâ€™ entry into the state to feed the Nigerian and African markets through the existing sales channels in Nigeria and the West African Sub-region.
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.
As a show of commitment to the business initiative, the Enugu State government recently facilitated the formal presentation of N300 million cheques 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 actualisation of the project, but also gave credence to the governorâ€™s promise to promote and attract private investment to the state through policies and programmes that would generate employment as well as boost the stateâ€™s economy for sustainable development.
It would be recalled that Ugwuanyi, in his inaugural address, promised that his administration â€œwill drive with full force investment promotionâ€¦(and) provide the necessary legal and policy framework to make investment thriveâ€ in the state. The governor also promised to give attention to the 9th Mile Corner, â€œa long overlooked economic hubâ€, to harness its potentials and 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 administrationâ€™s commitment to enter into strategic partnership with the private sector in agricultural development and industrialisation, he said his government had carefully designed policies that will generate employment and provide the platform to partner with the private sector.
During the cheque presentation ceremony, 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 â€œstimulate 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 servicesâ€.
Declaring Enugu State â€œready and open for businessâ€, Ugwuanyi reassured all foreign partners and potential investors of his administrationâ€™s resolve to sustain the business-friendly environment that exists in the state. He added that it was agreed that â€œthe investors shall among other benefits, pay compensation for economic items on the land to the host communities through the state governmentâ€.
The Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr. Sam Ogbu-Nwobodo, applauded Ugwuanyi for his vision, innovation, fiscal discipline, and transparency. Nwobodo noted that the event was a major breakthrough geared towards the full actualisation of the investment vision of the present administration in Enugu State. He said the state had â€œwitnessed a sustained high level of investment inflowâ€..
According to the commissioner, the event was the fruit of the Ugwuanyi governmentâ€™s commitment to the economic development of the state. â€œYour Excellencyâ€™s interactive sessions with the revered Traditional Rulers, Presidents General of the various communities and most importantly, about 51 indigenous Professors from the areas were quite engaging and productive,â€ Nwobodo said regarding the governor.
He said Ugwuanyâ€™s vision â€œis 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.â€
While presenting the cheque to the host communities, the chairman of Lion Business Park Limited, Dr. Okechukwu Mbonu, also commended Ugwuanyi for his â€œgreat vision in making Enugu State a West African industrial hubâ€.
Mbonu assured the governor of the foreign partnersâ€™ determination to actualise their mandate in record time.
From the above narrative, it is implicitly established that Ugwuanyi has risen above all odds, to fulfil his promise to drive investment promotion in the state, in a way that adds value to the lives of the people.
Perhaps, confirming the above, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Limited, Chief Allen Onyema, had during a recent meeting with Ugwuanyi on the economic development of the South-east region, described the governor as â€œa visionary and forward thinking governor who has assembled technocrats to think about what to do for his peopleâ€.
The Air Peace boss, who disclosed the companyâ€™s vision to use the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, as the economic hub of Africa, added that the decision to establish in Enugu was based on its assessment of the governorâ€™s leadership qualities, positive impacts in governance and commitment to investment promotion.
â€œWe 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,â€ Onyema said.
As 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 and effort of his administration to improve the living standard of the people of the state â€“ the true heroes of democracy. Enugu State is truly in the hands of God.
â€“â€“â€“Amoke writes from Enugu.