Udom Emmanuel, governor of Akwa Ibom has expressed his displeasure on the Federal Government not having any investment in the state, despite “sitting” on about 36.1per cent of Nigeria’s oil and gas reserve.
Emmanuel said that when a delegation from the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) led by its new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Senator Tijjani Kaura, paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Uyo on Tuesday.
He also said the state deserves to be given pride of place in the allotment of accrued benefits of the nation’s petroleum sector, considering her enormous stakes and contributions to the nation’s economy through the oil and gas sector.
He congratulated Senator Kaura on his recent appointment to succeed Mr Umana Okon Umana who is currently the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, reassured his administration’s commitment to its relationship with OGFZA especially in expediting the realization of the State’s Liberty Oil and Gas Free Zone.
The governor called for concerted efforts by the federal government toward adequately harnessing the oil and gas endowments, and repositioning the oil and gas sector to Nigeria’s advantage.
His words: “I want to welcome you and say a big congratulation on this appointment. We’ll do everything to give you the maximum cooperation that you need.
“We assure you the readiness of this government to collaborate with the new leadership of Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, especially in expediting the realization of the State’s Liberty Oil and Gas Free Zone.
“We’ve managed to bring in some companies ranging from LNG to Petrochemical. The ammonia and fertilizer plants will also make use of the gas. At the end of the day, we see that there’s hardly a situation where we can move Nigeria forward that we can ignore gas.
“Even the aluminium smelter company will not have to run on diesel; they’ll also need gas. It’s a web that will weave around and impact various aspects of the economy to make sure things work well.
“Akwa Ibom State, despite sitting on about 36.1% of Nigeria’s oil and gas reserve, has no single investment by the federal government to show for it, ranging from the upstream to the downstream sector.
“If Nigeria does not make use of the oil and gas now that it is still very relevant to the whole world, in forty years the pursuit for the development of alternative sources of power would have been realized”
The governor who reiterated that his administration’s cardinal programmes were anchored on developing the three major gateways of air, land and water transportation, noted that the state presently could boast of a dualized thoroughfare from the state capital to the Atlantic Ocean, with about 24km dualized bypass to the East-West road from, while planning a major coastal highway to the upcoming deep seaport.
“With proposals so far from some investors to do transhipment from the state’s imminent seaport; the Federal Government will be required to grant approvals for modular refineries to avail the industry with a hub for a ready supply of aviation fuel.
“For air transport, with the only MRO in this part of Africa to be ready for commissioning in about 8 weeks and a modern digital terminal building with full compliance to modern safety, security and ICT systems to guarantee ease of doing business within the year, a cargo section will naturally come into existence”, the governor said.
In his remarks earlier, the OGFZA MD/CEO, Senator Tijjani Kaura, commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for his contributions and investment toward the actualization of the Liberty Free Zone in the State.
He described the project as critical to an economic booster for the State which the as the potential to attract over $22 billion and employ over 100,000 youths.
He appealed for a state-based agency to interface with the OGFZA to achieve the goals of the Free Zone, noting that: “the Liberty Oil and Gas Free Zone is strategically located, and on completion will be the largest in the country”