By BELLO IHIOVI
- Project to create 2M jobs
- On 280 hectares of land earmarked across 5 LGAs
The Kogi State Government under the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello has sourced for support funding of $100 million from the African Development Bank (AfDP) to execute the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) Project in the State.
The Commissioner for Finance, Hon. Muqadam Asiru stated this during his opening address at a Stakeholders’ Engagement Meeting for Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the proposed Kogi SAPZ and associated development.
According to him, the State is privileged to be a beneficiary of this massive project which he said was a benefit of a huge attention drawn to the huge gap that exists between production and need, employment, transportation and power supply.
The project, he added, will create employment for 2 million people in the State and by extension, curb poverty, reduce youth restiveness and open doors for private investors.
Hon Ashiru further disclosed that 280 hectares of land would be acquired for the setting up of the project which will cut across 5 local government areas namely, Kabba/Bunu, Okehi, Adavi, Ijumu and Lokoja would benefit farmers, processors, aggregators and distributors to operate in the same vicinity to reduce transaction costs and share business development services for increased productivity and competitiveness.
He further added that the government of the day, having agric sector as a priority in its blueprint agenda is ready to provide conducive and enabling environment for the project coordinators, host communities and private investors.
Also in an opening remarks, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. David Apeh noted that the project will bring adequate infrastructure (energy, water, roads, ICT) to rural areas of high agricultural potential, as the SAPZ, he added, will attract investments from private agro-industrialists and entrepreneur.
He further commended the State Government for the initiative, urging the host communities to maintain peace and focus on the end benefits of the project.
Presenting details of the Project, one of the Coordinators of the project, Dr. Bassey Uzodinma disclosed that SAPZ is an Integrated Development Initiative designed to concentrate on agro-processing activities within areas of high agricultural potential to boost productivity, integrate production, processing and marketing of selected commodities.
He added that the project was to be concluded in the next 42months.
He revealed that by AfDB’s standard requirement, environmental and social safeguard must be respected, hence the project must be carried out in a way that will benefit the entire State and generations yet unborn.
Also, one of the pioneers of the project, Chief James Awoniyi, thanked the host communities for releasing their lands and comfort, assuring that as the host communities, they would get to benefit first hand from the outcome of the project.
Chief Awoniyi disclosed that for the State Government’s close supervision of the project, it had commissioned 3 consultants to research on the various components of the project.
Establishment of SAPZs, he stressed, will boost the structural transformation of the State’s economy by providing opportunities for public and private sector investment in agriculture when fully operational.
In thier respective remarks, the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Victor Omofaiye and that of Education, Science and Technology HON. Wemi Jones, Commerce and Industry; Hon Gabriel Olofu pledged total support in accessing the environmental hazards and sustainability of the project in the chosen LGs, and lauded the project,.
They added that SAPZ will enhance national food and nutritional security, while optimizing the export of value-added agricultural commodities and thus improve the quality of livelihoods through wealth creation for rural farming communities.
Speaking on behalf of the host community, the Kabba/Bunu Local Government Chairman, Hon. Moses Olorunleke pledged the total support of the 5 communities while pleading for them to be carried along and well compensated for their contributions.
Highlights of the meeting was a question and comment session which availed stakeholders present to air their fears and opinions.
In attendance were, HRH. Oba. J T Madamori, Oba of Aiyegunle Bunu, HRH Oba Elijah Jimoh Meseko, Oba of OdoApe, HRH. Oba Josua Okunrintemi, HRH. Oba Adebisi Obademi, Obaro of Apa Bunu, HRH. Oba Bonire Femi Timothy, Obaro of Igori Bunu, HRH. Oba Adebayo Olutaji, Obaro of Oshokoshoko, HRH. Oba Timothy Omonile, Olu of Okebukun, Pastor. T Kolawole, President Bunu Development Union and Professor. Femi Ehinmidu, Bunu Leader, Chairman of Adavi LGA, representatives of the Minister for Environment as well as those of Chairmen of Lokoja and Okehi local governments.