By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja, assured that the South-east, especially Aba would benefit from new investment commitments coming into Nigeria’s textile sector which would come into fruition within the shortest possible time.
Buhari who spoke through his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, said while receiving traditional rulers from Abia State led by His Royal Majesty, Dr. Isaac Ikonne, that he was committed to spreading development and rejigging the economy.
Adesina said the president assured the monarchs that the issues of unstable electricity and other basic infrastructure challenges in Ariaria Market, a major trading hub in West and Central Africa, would soon be addressed.
According to him, Buhari reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to rapidly industrialise the country through projects that promote import substitution, adding that the investments in the textile industry would create thousands of jobs for youths in Aba.
He quoted him as saying, ‘‘Just last week, I was in China to attend the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation. During that visit, I personally met with executives of one of the largest cotton and garment companies in the world who will soon establish operations in Aba.
‘‘This is following a joint effort of attracting this investor by both the Federal and Abia State Government.
‘‘The proposed investment will create thousands of jobs for the vibrant and creative youths in Aba.
‘‘I am very excited about this project. I have directed the Hon. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment to ensure this investment is actualised within the shortest possible time.”
On Ariaria Market, Adesina said the president recalled that during his visit to Aba in 2015 as a presidential candidate, he was warmly received by residents during which he walked through parts of the market and observed lack of electricity and other basic infrastructure for its over 40,000 shops.
He quoted him further, ‘‘As a government, we issued a presidential mandate to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the Rural Electrification Agency to energise the market.
‘‘In June 2018, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission granted an electricity generation licence as well as a distribution licence for the market. This will enable the generation and distribution of 9.5 Megawatts of electricity within the market.
‘‘The project is moving smoothly and I have been assured the market will be fully electrified soon. We are working closely with the State Government, Local Government, Traditional Rulers, Market Associations and the community on this project to ensure this goal is actualised by the end of the year.”
He said the president also spoke on security, reiterating that the federal government would continue to do its best to maintain the sovereign integrity of Nigeria and protect the livelihoods of its hardworking and honest citizens.
The statement added that the president advocated the need for elder statesmen, leaders, parents and patriots to continue to guide youths on the path of peace and prosperity while eschewing hateful and divisionary rhetoric.
‘‘We must not shy away from this responsibility. We only have one Nigeria. And we must ensure we hand over a better Nigeria to the next generation,’’ the president reportedly said.
The statement also said Eze Ikonne, in his remarks, lauded the president for successes recorded so far since he assumed office in 2015, particularly in the fight against corruption, agricultural revolution, infrastructure development and security.
He said Eze also spoke on infrastructure development in the South-east, saying, ‘‘Mr. President, I thank you for the massive federal roads rehabilitation going on in the South- East; like the Enugu-Aba-Port Harcourt expressway, Port Harcourt-Elele-Owerri road, Enugu-Onitsha expressway.
‘‘These roads were death traps for 16 years before you came into office, but today they are wearing new solid looks, though not completed but relief is already there with the level of work done so far.’’