Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Marine Club of Nigeria (MCN) has called on called on Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, to take necessary steps towards actualising the creation of the Enyimba Economic City, a free trade zone in the state, during his second tenure.
The MCN is the incorporated umbrella advocacy association of professionals, businesses and government agencies involved in the Nigerian Maritime Economy (NIME).
In an open letter to the governor, the President of MCN, Dr. Chinedu Jideofo-Ogbuagu, noted that Ikpeazu could not do much on the project during his first tenure because of litigations challenging his election.
He stated: “It was shortly after PDP primary that produced you as governorship candidate in 2014/2015 that we identified you as the man likely to give us the maritime and industrial city that we had since 2003 advocated for in Abia South Senatorial District, Abia State of Nigeria.
“We proceeded to do a fresh proposal for creation of a massive free trade zone in the area, which is bigger than Lagos State and has massive adjoining northward land areas for future expansion. We didn’t end there; we relocated to Abia State to campaign for your election in 2015. And you won.
“Since then, Enyimba Economic City has been further conceptualised and has received a boost from buy-in by the federal government and President Muhammadu Buhari. Luckily, both President Buhari and you have been re-elected as President and Governor, respectively.
“We had been apprehensive that Enyimba Economic City plan would suffer from usual policy discontinuity in Nigeria if both of you failed in your re-election bid, so we again campaign vigorously for your re-election.
“With much distractions – court cases and all – in your first term of four years, your Abia State Government did not make much progress in Ukwa Maritime and Industrial City, Greater Aba City or Enyimba Economic City that this free trade zone vision is now named. But we hope that Enyimba Economic City project will be fully actualised during your second four-year term, which, because of your clear victory over your opponents in 2019 governorship election, you will not be distracted by court cases as you were following 2015 election.”
Jideofo-Ogbuagu stated that the Enyimba Economic City project was envisaged to become a mega industrial hub for the South-east geopolitical zone that would suck in both South-east and other investors from Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano and other Nigerian places as well as investors from abroad.
“With ethnic and transport infrastructural crises all over Lagos, etc, you will agree with us that Enyimba Economic City has become even more urgent than when it was first conceived,” he said.
He posited that the actualisation of Enyimba Economic City would become the greatest development milestone in the history of South-eastern Nigeria.
“It will not just be your signature project; it will also make you the greatest Igbo leader since Dr. Michael I. Okpara’s administration of Eastern Nigeria. Therefore, if Enyimba Economic City is all you achieve in your second term, your place in history is assured,” he said.
He added: “Served by a seaport at Ukwa (through Imo River), by the cargo airport at Owerri or another cargo airport at Isiala-Ngwa South, by rail and road links in all directions, by all the facilities and structures of a free trade zone and by unrivalled industrial and trading capacities of the area, you would have created the greatest maritime and industrial hub in Africa, which would help to reduce or even remove congestions and tensions at Lagos Trade Fair Complex, at Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports, at Sabon Gari Kano and in other parts of Nigeria between Ndigbo and their host communities.”