Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, has said that Nigeria and other members of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCTA), stand to gain immensely from the agreement in the area of employment, wealth generation, food security and poverty alleviation.
Abiodun stated this at the 36th Annual General Meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ogun State branch, held in Abeokuta, on Thursday.
The governor, however, stressed the need for critical stakeholders in different African countries to come together to appraise and review the process of the continental agreement.
“Our production base has continued to expand and we are harnessing the potentials of the manufacturing sector towards improving on policy formulations and programmes to internalize and mainstream African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCTA) into Nigeria’s Economic Development Plan.
“Interestingly, the results have remained positive, especially, in the area of employment generation, wealth creation, food security and poverty alleviation and consequently, the continued improvement in the standards of living of Nigerians.
“No doubt, AfCTA comes with immense benefits to member Nations. Nevertheless, it is important that critical stakeholders in different African countries also come together to appraise and review the process”, he pointed out.
He said that the MAN’s Annual General Meeting, with the theme, ‘The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement And Nigeria Manufacturing Sector – Maximizing The Gains; Mitigating The Draw backs’, is an important platform for a cross-fertilization of ideas for the development of the manufacturing sector which he said remained the redeeming feature for Nigeria’s economic survival.
Abiodun praised the Ogun state branch of MAN for being consistent in its commitment and determination to make the critical difference in its efforts to promote Made-in-Nigeria goods and to ensure that the ideals of industrializing the state come into fruition.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that the Federal Government has upped the ante on economic diversification and re-tooling the manufacturing sector for economic sustainability. By doing this, we will come up with improved and more practical recommendations that will make such international economic collaboration more beneficial to the manufacturing sector in particular, and, the nation’s economy in general”, the governor added.
He maintained that his administration has put in place policies and programmes for the Ease of Doing Business with the aim of harnessing the economic potentials of the state.
According to him, policies such as the Business Environment Council, Ogun State Land Administration and Revenue Management System (OLARMS), the establishment of the Industrial Parks and so on, had been put in place to make Ogun more attractive to investors.
Abiodun, therefore, called on investors to take advantage of various economic policies available and invest in the state.
On efforts to enhance transportation of raw materials and finished goods within and without the state, the governor informed the gathering that plans were in top gear to begin the construction of the Sagamu-Ogijo road by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) using the tax credit scheme system.
He noted that his administration had in the last two years and four months prioritised the construction of interstate and intra-state roads, saying over three hundred kilometres of roads have been constructed with particular attention on roads with adjoining states, particularly Lagos
Abiodun further noted that his administration has commenced the construction of the 20Km Agbara-Atan-Lusada road, assuring the road would be ready by the end of 2022.
He said that Unilever has shown interest in the construction of the already awarded road through the tax credit system, adding that Dangote Group has also accepted to fund the construction of the Sagamu Interchange to Ilaro road which is a major road connecting the eastern and western parts of the state.
The governor also disclosed that the Nigeria Customs Service was planning to relocate some of its operations from Lagos State into the Agro Cargo Airport that will be ready towards the end of next year.
“Earlier this week, I received a letter from the Nigeria Customs Service requesting that we allow them to have a presence at the Agro Cargo Airport, that they will like to relocate most of their operations from Lagos State into that airport,” he said.
Abiodun, while lauding the President Buhari-led administration for upping the ante of economic diversification and returning the manufacturing sector to economic sustainability, added that under the watch of the president, the production base of the country has continued to expand.
In his address, President of MAN, Engr. Mansur Ahmed, represented by the Vice President, MAN, Southwest, Mr Samuel Kolawole, said the meeting was an opportunity for the association to engage the state government policies, plans and directions on issues affecting manufacturers.
While appreciating the Ogun State government for its efforts at improving security and infrastructure for businesses to strive, he called for the establishment of more industrial parks and skill acquisition centres for training of the teeming youths.
The chairman, MAN, Ogun State branch, Mr Seleem Adegunwa, noted that the Public-Private Partnership initiative of the state government was yielding fruits as it enabled the private sector to collaborate with the government in different ways.