By Adetokunbo Abiola
Recently, the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, received a preliminary report on the proposed deep seaport in the Southern Senatorial District from Maritime Transport Business Solutions, (MTBS).
During the occasion, the governor proposed a detailed documentary on the efforts made so far on the deep seaport, to convince Nigerians on why the project is inevitable in the state.
“This project is going to be like a tree we are going to plant. We may not benefit from the shade it is going to provide, but the next generation would benefit from it. And that is the way to grow an economy,” the governor stated.
Indeed, the governor has many trees he is planting in the industrial sector, and if they turn out to benefit the state, hundreds of thousands of unemployed youths will be absorbed in the industrial sector.
The Guangdong Free Trade Zone in Ondo State could be one of them, with 25 companies to be registered to commerce operations in the initiative, each of them to employ at least 500 people.
The state government will be partnering a team of expatriates and management of ZGM Investment Group of Companies for the exercise.
The proposed industrial site will be located at Ugbo Nla in Ilaje Local Government Area, and it could have the capacity for refineries, glass production, construction materials, hardware processing, printing, steel pipe, ceramic and battery manufacturing companies.
The state will be exploiting the fact that it has the deepest and longest coastline in the West African sub region, with 90 percent of its natural resources yet exploited.
Another initiative could be the successful operation of the Ore Industrial Hub, which seems to be picking up.
Already, the ODSG/Wewood Afforestation Project has had Gmelina arborea planted on 1,500 of the 10,000 hectares, which is a very commendable development.
During a visit to Linyi City in China, the governor was able to woo Chinese investors with reasonable incentives to get them to invest in Ore.
So far, four out of the seven companies have established a paper mill and an MDF plant.
The investors, who are under the Shandong Group, moved their sophisticated equipment into Ore Industrial Hub for the exercise.
According to government reports, the paper mill will employ well over 5,000 people, as its mdf production line of about 33,000 tonnes per day is the first of its kind in the country.
Earlier this month, government announced that no fewer than five new companies are ready to begin operations at the Ore Industrial Hub.
During the commissioning of a five-star hotel in Oba-Ile recently, the governor vowed not to rest on his oar to transform Ondo from a civil service to an industrial hub.
The governor then said new industries expected in the state include the N42 billion Egg Powder Plant, under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) between the state government and Greenfield Asset Limited at Emure-Ile.
It could provide 25,000 new jobs, a foreign exchange earnings of $1billion, in addition to increased income for poultry farmers in the country.
Another project is the N45 billion Housing estate at Abo-Asakin in Akure North Local Government Area.
Government has also reworked a Memorandum of Understanding between it and the African Redcrest Nigeria Limited for the establishment of a mass rice production facility at a project value of N12 billion.
The Ondo State government holds a 20 percent equity state in the project, for contributing 500 hectares of land beside Owena Dam area, while Redcrest owns 80 percent of equity share.
The Akeredolu administration hopes that in the near future youths in the state will harvest a lot from the ethanol plant initiated by the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) at Okeluse in Ose Local Government Area of the state.
According to the Special Adviser to the state government on Development and Investment, Mr Boye Oyewumi, the project would involve NNPC, the state government, Obax Worldwide and Complant, a Chinese Company.
According to NNPC, the Okeluse initiative is worth $175 million and could employ over one million Nigerians in both direct and indirect jobs on its completion.
In time, it could prove one of the most significant and engaging ways of utilizing the cassava production of farmers in this part of the country.
Needless to say, the deep seaport could end up being the intimate legacy of this administration, if it is capable of pulling off a feat that has challenged previous governments in the state.
45 consultants are currently on the field, working on the project, with MTBS on a 10- week design feasibility study, before talks about implementation can begin.
An industrial estate, according to reports, will be part of the package, which would take about twenty years to build.
With a seaport at the Erunna-Ogboti-Ugbo axis, the congestion problem at the Lagos Sea-port would be solved.
Cynics may say these projects are still on paper, but the administration can point to the Wewood project as evidence of its seriousness, since the project partners are recording some success.
Still, the administration has shown tremendous energy in its industralisation drive, and if it turns out to be successful, future generations will remember the present governor for planting the farms that enable them to survive.
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