Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for African Development (AUDA-NEPAD) has expressed readiness to collaborate with the federal government and Imo state government in ensuring the realisation of the objectives of the dredging of Oguta Lake and Orashi River.
The Chief Executive Officer of AUDA-NEPAD, Gloria Akobundu, who described the project as innovative and timely, said the organisation was ready to offer necessary assistance in the area of mobilisation of funds and technical assistance to see that the dream of constructing the seaport was realised.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had last week flagged off the hypographic survey/dredging of sea route, stretching from Oguta Lake to Orashi River to Degema and the Atlantic Ocean.
The project which involves the clearance of the entire route was initiated by Governor Hope Uzodimma, as part of innovative efforts to open up the economic corridor in the south-east and enhance maritime security in the Niger Delta region.
It would be executed in partnership of the Nigerian Navy along with a consortium of international companies, under the Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Speaking in an interview THISDAY, at the weekend, Akobundu said part of mandate of NEPAD was to support such an intervention project and help mobilise resources from government and private sector investors to execute the project.
She said the seaport would be realised if all stakeholders give support to the Imo state government in its execution.
“Like I said it takes a visionary leader and a deep thinker to understand his environment, identify challenges and proffer solutions.
“For me, coming from African Union Development Agency it is a realisable project because the mandate of NEPAD is designed for such an intervention project and it is also designed to mobilise resources for such project and it is also designed to work with public and private sector PPP to be able to create jobs for our youths, grow the economy and at the same time ensure quality and good governance.
“So looking at it from our study, our mandate from the vision of the leaders putting together the African Union development agency and in realisation of Agenda 2063.
“We are all clamouring for, the Africa we want, the Nigeria we desire to have, it is a win-win thing for Nigeria, it is a win-win thing for Imo state and for Africa at large because that project is going to curb insecurity, strengthen the economic growth,” she added.
She said Oguta remains one of the oil trade zones, adding that if not protected and harnessed for economic development, Nigeria would be the loser.
While commending the foresight exhibited by the Imo state government in embarking on the project, the NEPAD Akobundu said the developmental project falls squarely on the mandate set for the African Union Development Agency.
When asked about NEPAD’s attraction to the Oguta Lake project, Akobundu said: “Nigeria needs to be developed we shouldn’t care what region should have whatever it has but wherever the opportunity to put up a facility that can support the development and economic growth of the country we shouldn’t hesitate to do so.
“So I see that particular project as a win-win, economic growth, development, job creation and stability of peace and security in the country.”
In addition, Akobundu said the partnership with the Nigerian Navy was already a kudos to not just Imo state, but Nigeria and Africa at large because it will help in securing our border line. “Don’t forget that particular project cuts across various communities and rivers straight to the Atlantic Ocean which you are talking of movement of vessels both the big and small, the pirates and others,” she said.
Speaking on the economic and social benefit of the project, she said it would no doubt boost the economy and job creation in the country, especially the immediate communities and reduce the perennial traffic gridlock witnessed at the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in Lagos.