Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, have identified youths restiveness, illegal development fees among others as the key issues hampering economic development in Urhoboland.
They said the development had led several oil multinational and others companies operating in Urhoboland to pull out of the area to other parts of the country for business.
They made the observation on Friday 22nd November on their separate speeches during The Second Urhobo Economic and Investment Summit organised by the Urhobo Economic Summit Group at the KFT Events Centre, Ekpan, Uvwie Local Government Area of the state.
The Summit with the theme “Private Sector and the Future of the Nigerian economy: The Ease of Doing Business in Urhoboland” attracted several speakers including Dr. Benson Uwheru, Partner Advisory Services, Ernst and Young, who presented the keynote address.
The event chaired by Engr. Mike Orugbo, also had in attendance, the Executive Director Business Development, NEXIM Bank, Mrs Stella Okotete, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Peter Mrakpor among other dignitaries.
They, however, said if Urhobo Nation must attain its socio-economic development in Nigeria, Urhobo people should take advantage of their comparative advantage in area of population and geographical positioning in ensuring the economic development of her people.
Senator Omo-Agege was represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr Otive Igbuzor, while Governor Okowa who was the Special Guests of Honour at the event was represented by his Chief of Staff, Olorogun David Edevbie
According to Omo-Agege, “Urhoboland has a significant role to play in the micro and macro economic prosperity of the state and country arising from its population advantage, the natural resources therein, and the hospitality of her people.
“The presence of significant number of national industries: refinery, DSC, Otorogun gas plant, and Ogorode power station and the untapped potentials in agrobusiness, Urhoboland has the potential to be economically competitive.
“The planned revival of the Warri seaport by the Federal government, will enhance the economic gains of Urhoboland and Delta State.
“We must therefore act decisively on the roadmap that would be agreed on at the end of this summit and I also urge the state and the federal governments, to continue to fight corruption and the bureaucratic red tapes that complicate the ease of doing business,” he added
Governor Okowa in his remark said the State Government is creating the conducive atmosphere for private enterprise to thrive and underscores the need for value re-orientation from dependence on government to self reliance.
He lamented the challenges of incessant youth restiveness and its negative effect on sustainable economic growth and called for the simplification of the regulatory framework and the entrenchment of market friendly policies by all tiers of government.
“Let me state emphatically that the Okowa’s administration vision of a stronger Delta is 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.
“We have made appreciable progress in setting up the Kwale industrial park to speed up the industrialization of the state and to create jobs for Deltans,”
He commended the excellent working relationship between the State and the Federal government. He assured the gathering that the State government will continue to partner with Federal agencies in the provision of critical infrastructure.
Dr. Benson Uwheru, the keynote paper presenter, harped on the role that private sector plays in economic growth, stability and 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, 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, the road to economic growth lies in the adoption of certain standard international practices which include: strong institutions, infrastructure, ICT adoption, vibrant health sector, macroeconomic stability, skills based economy, and global competitiveness.
“In order to expedite the economic growth of Urhoboland, we must develop a 50 year development plan broken into two phases of 25years each should be developed for the Urhobo Nation tagged Vision 2070, as well as provision of alternative sources of energy (geothermal/green energy) to provide power needed growth.”
Earlier Convener of the Summit, Mr Kingsley Ubiebi in his welcome address said this year’s theme was strategically chosen because of the importance of the role of the private sector in economic growth and development and urged the people of Urhobo nation to do everything possible to change the present narratives.
A communique issued at the end of the summit, however, called on government to ensure a full implementation of the anti-development fee laws of the State to forestall youth harrasment of investors; Urhobo Nation should key into Cassava, Oil Palm, Sweet Potato, rubber planting and processing and synergise with the State and other governmental agencies and institutions towards harnessing agricultural investment potentials.
Continuing, it said “that government should intensify skills acquisition drive to provide needed know how for the sustenance of micro/small/medium scale enterprises and urged Urhobo leaders to initiate a comprehensive ICT-driven information hub that will disseminate needed information to all stakeholders about investment opportunities and credit facilities.
The Summit also recommended that Urhobo stakeholders and opinion leaders should create Urhobo farmers Association to drive the Agribusiness industry.