Osinbajo: Despite Economic Downturn, FG Invested N1.3tn on Infrastructure, Capital Projects in 2016

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•    Performs groundbreaking for N200bn industrial park in Edo

Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday said despite the 60 per cent drop in revenue in 2016, the federal government invested N1.3 trillion on infrastructure and capital projects, to help boost job creation and reposition the national economy.

Osinbajo disclosed this while performing the groundbreaking ceremony of a N200 billion Industrial Park at Iyanomo in Ikpoba-Okah Local Government Area of Edo State. The Benin Industrial Park is expected to produce over 600,000 metric tonnes of industrial output and provide jobs for 170,000 direct and indirect workers.

The vice president, who commended Governor Godwin Obaseki’s efforts on the planned industrial park, said the project would help “position Nigeria to compete with the Asian Tigers and other countries for the 80 million jobs that China is forecast to shed in the next ten years”.

Performing the groundbreaking ceremony, Osinbajo said the park aligned perfectly with the vision of President Mohammadu Buhari for Nigeria as a country to produce what it consumes.

He stated that the economic recovery and growth plan unveiled recently by the President spelt the adoption of industrial parks and special economic zones as policy tools to generate growth and diversify the Nigeria economy.

He noted that industrial park was also identified as a tool to help the federal government bridge the infrastructure gap, develop target sector, generate economy of scale and be used as testing ground for broader economic initiatives.

The vice president noted that Obaseki shared the same vision as the Asian Tigers and China that used industrial parks and special economic zones to create jobs, generate transport revenue and diversify their economies within a single generation.

According to him, “This industrial journey that we are recommending is one that other countries have embarked on and thrived. If we stay the course, we will enjoy a similar kind of success. We have seen how China and the Asia Tigers used the resources with which they were blessed to develop export-oriented light manufacturing industry.

“That is the same vision that is shared by Obaseki. It is the vision of the Asian Tigers. It is the vision that enables China to achieve its success. He must be commended for the excellent way with which he has pursued this vision. We will be competing with these countries for more than 80 million jobs that China is forecast to shed in the next ten years. We must do everything to make sure these jobs make their way to the Benin Industrial parks and other economic zones that Nigeria will nurture in the years ahead.

“We must not slow down when all phases of this Park will be fully developed. This is what the country has been waiting for. This kind of enterprises, this kind of huge vision that will move our country to the height that we deserve as a people blessed with so much talent and so many resources.

“This park will change the face of Edo, economic potential of this state. The federal government will do all the needed support to bring this landmark project to fruition”, he added.

In his remark, Governor Obaseki said the park was one of the many industrial parks his administration will build across the state, in line with his promise to expand the economy for it to be productive.

The governor stated that the park was the major output of the constructive engagement his administration embarked on. He said the park would complement the effort of the federal government to diversify the Nigerian economy away from oil.

“This will have massive implications for youth employment, exportation and our capacity building for local production. This is in line with the economic and recovery growth plan of the federal government. This park has been designed along with the 21st century standard. The park will have gas, electricity, water and connectivity to major markets in the South-south, the East and Western states.

“The design conforms to world standard. This park will be a reality within the next 12 months. Edo State government shares in this park will not exceed 26 per cent. We will call other investors to participate. Our co-developers will brand and market the park”, he added.

Earlier, Obaseki said the industrial park at Iyanomo is the first in the series of parks his administration intends to establish in the state to make Edo an Industrial hub. The governor said the park, which is a public-private partnership initiative, was designed by Mahindra Engineering and would conform to 21st Century standard.

“I promised that if I become the governor of Edo State I will create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive and improve the quality of lives of our people. Our goal to industrialise Edo is already yielding results and our hope is to create employment for thousands of people in the state.”

He said the gas that would power the industrial park already exists within the park’s location and assured that the park would be built within 12 months.

The governor commended the federal government for its relentless commitment to the industrialisation of Edo, saying that the private sector would contribute about 74 per cent share of investments to the industrial park.

The event was chaired by Benin Monarch, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II.

Commissioner for Wealth Creation, Cooperatives and Employment, Emmanuel Usoh, said the development of the industrial park would assist in the formation of industrial clusters that will serve as incubation centres for new businesses.