COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE SECOND EDITION OF URHOBO ECONOMIC AND INVESTMENT SUMMIT, HELD AT KFT EVENT CENTRE, ALONG NNPC HOUSING COMPLEX ROAD, OFF AIRPORT ROAD, EKPAN, UVWIE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, DELTA STATE.

The second edition of Urhobo Economic and Investment Summit was held November 22, 2019 at KFT Event Centre, Uvwie Local Government Area, Delta State. The theme of the summit is.

Private Sector and the Future of the Nigerian Economy: The Ease of Doing Business in Urhoboland

Given the significance of the private sector as powerhouse of economic development,  it is compelling that the summit was designed to critically x-ray factors militating against the ease of doing business in Urhoboland and at the same time, highlighting possible interventionist measures. The summit which was driven by the need to make Urhoboland economically competitive at the micro and macro levels was conveyed by Kingsley Ubiebi.

 

Discussants at the summit were drawn from critical areas germane to economic growth and development. They include: seasoned consultants, policy formulators, government officials (the executive and legislative branches), the organized private sector, DACCIMA, Traditional Rulers, nongovernmental organizations, NEXIM Bank, SMEDAN and the Bank of Industry.

 

The event, which was chaired by Engr. Mike Orugbo, had in attendance, the Deputy President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Ovie Omo-Agege, ably represented by His Chief of Staff, Dr Otivie Igbuzor; and Governor of Delta State, Sen. Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, represented by his Chief of Staff, Olorogun  David Edevbie. The summit was well attended by prominent Urhobo sons and daughters from all spheres of influence: academics, technocrats, traditional rulers, politicians, professionals, industrialists, market women, tourists, religious leaders, bankers, agricultural researchers, pensioners and student-leaders. 

 

Presentations and discussions:

 

Five personalities who addressed silent issues of economic advancement at the summit are;

Engr. Mike Orugbo JP, (MD/CEO O-Secul Engineering) Chairman of the Occasion, His, Excellency, the Deputy Senate President, represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr. Otive Igbuzor,

His Excellency, the Governor of Delta State, Sen. Arthur Okowa, represented by the Chief of Staff, Olorogun David Edevbie, Dr. Uwheru Benson, Partner, Ernst and Young Nigeria, presented the keynote paper, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, former Minister of Education, delivered the Guest lecture, which was presented by the convener, Kingsley Ubiebi.

 

The Chairman of the occasion, Chief Mike Orugbo, (MD/CEO O-Secul Engineering) in his opening remark pointed out that Urhoboland has innumerable economic and investment potentials capable of making her an important player in the investment dynamics of  Delta state and Nigeria at large. He however highlighted different activities hindering the investment and economic potentials in Urhoboland such as; Youth hostilities and aggressive demand for development fees; difficulties in the acquisition of lands for investment in Urhoboland and neglect of the agricultural sector, the clearest shortcut to economic prosperity by the youths.

 

He therefore called on all stakeholders to urgently explore solutions to the foregoing in order to place Urhoboland on the pedestal of prosperity where she rightly belongs.

 

The Deputy President of the Senate, in his address, commended the organisers for the foresightedness in coming up with a subject matter which is significantly and timely. He noted that gains have been made by the Buhari led administration in improving the nation’s ranking from 146/190 in 2018 to 131/190 in 2019. According to him, these improvements in the nation’s ranking and in other economic indices are remarkable, considering the bureaucratic bottlenecks compounded by corruption. Despite the foregoing, he notes Nigeria remains a good investment destination as it offers an average of 35% returns on investment. The following are highlights of his address.

  1. The future of economic growth remains with the private sector and that bottlenecks and corruption must be minimized to enhance economic competitiveness
  2. Urhoboland has a significant role to play in the micro and macro economic prosperity of the state and country arising from its population (53% in Delta and 3% nationally), the natural resources therein, and the hospitality of her people.
  3. Due to the presence of significant number of national industries in Urhoboland such as; refinery, DSC, Otorogun gas plant, and Ogorode power station and the untapped potentials in agrobusiness, Urhoboland has the potential to be economically competitive.
  4. The planned revival of the Warri seaport by the Federal will enhance the economic gains of Urhoboland and Delta State.

He concluded by urging the gathering to act decisively on the roadmap that would be agreed on at the end of the summit. He urged all, state and the federal governments, to continue to fight corruption and the bureaucratic red tapes that complicate the ease of doing business.

 

In his address, the Executive governor of Delta state, represented by the Chief of Staff, Olorogun David Edevbie, commended the convener for the good choice of theme noting that the summit would enable all stakeholders appraise what has been achieved and what need to be done. He made the following observations;

 

  1. He noted that industrialization and economic growth is driven by the private sector through micro, small and medium scale industries. He called for the simplification of the regulatory framework and the entrenchment of market friendly policies by all tiers of government.
  2. He lamented the challenges of incessant youth restiveness and its negative effect on sustainable economic growth.
  3. He underscored the State’s vision of a stronger Delta underpinned on the development and provision of critical infrastructure such as roads, transport, telecom, health care, sanitation, provision of credit facilities for micro/small /medium scale industries, and the development of agribusiness by the Okowa led administration.
  4. He pointed out that State government has made appreciable progress in setting up the Kwale Industrial Park to speed up the industrialization of the state and to create jobs for Deltans.
  5. He commended the excellent working relationship between the State and the Federal government and assured the gathering that the State government will continue to partner with Federal agencies in the provision of critical infrastructures. He frowned at the divisive actions of those who manufacture imaginary crises between the federal and state government for selfish gains. 
  6. That the state Government is creating the conducive milieu for private enterprise to thrive and expressed the need for value re-orientation from dependence on government to self reliance.

 

Dr. Benson Uwheru, the keynoter, harped on the role that private sector plays in economic growth, stability, and the reduction of poverty. He pointed out that the economy of Nigeria is fragile because of its near total dependence on the petroleum industry. This fragility, according to him, arises from a number of global geopolitical dynamics and tensions that renders dependence on oil revenue risky. In comparative terms, he asserted that the agro-driven economic stability of Nigeria was far stronger prior to the discovery of hydrocarbon in the Niger Delta. With reference to some of the most developed economies in the world, he posited that the road to economic growth lies in the adoption of certain standard international standards, which include: strong institutions, infrastructure, ICT adoption, vibrant health sector, macroeconomic stability, skills based economy, and global competitiveness. He advocated a number of steps to expedite the economic growth of Urhoboland. These are:

 

  1. A fifty year development plan broken into two phases of 25 years each should be developed for the Urhobo Nation tagged Vision 2070. 
  2. Provision of alternative sources of energy (geothermal/green energy) to provide power needed growth.
  3. Creation of industrial Zones across the 24 kingdoms to harness latent agribusiness potentials in Urhoboland.
  4. Initiation of Urhobo technology hub.
  5. The establishment of tertiary institutions that will entrench the needed technical and skills capacity.

Nine panelists interrogated the presentations of the keynoter and the guest speakers. They offered expert opinion on strategies that should be adopted to enhance the economic prosperity of Urhoboland. Member of the panel are:

Prof  Eric Eboh, Chief Job & Wealth Creation Officer, Delta State.

Chief Emma Avworo, President DACCIMA

Hon. Stella Okotete, Executive Director (Business Development) NEXIM Bank.

O’Diakpo Obire PhD, Finance & Investment Consultant

Mr Peter Mrakpor Esq, Commissioner for justice and Attorney General, Delta State.

 Mr Obaro Marvel Osah, Regional Manager, South East, SME Group, Bank of Industry

Mrs  Obue  Adaighofua, College of Education, Warri.

Hon. Ben Rollands Igbakpa, Ethiope Federal Constituency, House of Representatives

Mr Marcus Ekure, Director, Vocational & Entrepreneurship Centre, FUPRE

 

The following recommendations were reached at the summit:

 

  1. Since access to land is a major impediment to investment in Urhoboland, a community based platform to interface with government on the issue, be constituted.
  2. Stakeholders should ensure a full implementation of the anti-development fee laws of the State in their areas to forestall harassment of investors by the youths.
  3. Urhobo Nation should key into Cassava, Oil Palm, Sweet Potato, rubber planting and processing and synergize with the State and other governmental agencies and institutions towards harnessing agricultural investment potentials.
  4. The State Government should partner with organized private sector (DACCIMA) in the privatization of public enterprise to ensure sustainability.
  5. Investors should enter into memoranda of understanding with host communities in Urhoboland to avoid conflict of interest.
  6. Government should intensify skills acquisition drive to provide needed know how for the sustenance of micro/small/medium scale enterprises
  7. Urhobo leaders should initiate a comprehensive ICT-driven information hub that will disseminate needed information to all stakeholders about investment opportunities and credit facilities.
  8. Urhobo stakeholders and opinion leaders should create Urhobo farmers Association to drive the Agribusiness industry.
  9. Delta State Government should consider the creation of Land way security to checkmate security challenges.
  10. Multinational Corporation, companies and institutions should abide by their Corporate Social Responsibilities.
  11. Future engagements on investment summits should be more inclusive. Local government Chairmen, House of Representatives, House of Assembly Members, Commissioners, Permanent Secretaries and other stakeholders should key into the vision of Urhobo Economic and Investment Summit.
  12. Urhobo leaders should create the enabling environment where youths are engaged productively through creation of vocational centres

 

The programme came to an end with expression of appreciation from Prof Temi Akporhonor, Member, Urhobo Economic and Investment Group Advisory Board.

 

Rapporteur

Dr Emmanuel Emama

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