How Governor Emmanuel Is Partnering China To Facilitate The Socio- Economic Development Of The State


The Evangelist edition, August 22, August, 2022. By Emmanuel Uffot

In furtherance of his desire to pursue to a logical conclusion his agenda socio-economic development of the state as a panacea for creating job opportunities, Governor Udom Emmanuel has mooted an elaborate collaboration with the Peoples Republic of China in key areas of the state economy to create job opportunities for the people.

The governor made his position known while playing host to the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Cui Jianchun, at the Government House, Uyo.

While acknowledging the Nigeria-China bilateral relations over the years, he stressed that his desire is for key areas such as education, agriculture, and basic infrastructure to be given a boost for the development of the state.

He emphasised the need to cement and collaborate with China in areas peculiar to the needs of the state, noting that the partnership in education and agricultural sector would build concrete foundation for investment in the area of nuclear technology in the future.

“We have not reached the level of nuclear power yet. We are still at the basic level”.

Although, Governor Emmanuel has over the years since coming to office in 2015 romance with the Chinese investors in infrastructural development projects in line with his completion agenda, maintains that his administration has created a conducive environment for investors to come in and invest and enjoin other Chinese companies that are in Nigeria to come and invest in the Akwa Ibom so as to reap the fruitful returns on their investment.

“We’ve created an environment for people to come and invest, we are calling on other investors, other Chinese companies that are here, let them come, we will collaborate and make sure they invest in Akwa Ibom and reap returns on their investment”.

Just recently, the ongoing partnership with Chinese investors was showcased when Governor Emmanuel laid a foundation stone for the construction of a Science and Technology Park in Uyo, the state capital.

The park to be known as Ibom Blue Sea Science and Technology Park, which is to be funded by a consortium of Chinese investors, will comprise a power plant, technical university, vocational training centre and a hi-tech building materials plant.

On completion, it is expected to create a window of employment opportunities to the Akwa Ibom people while further aiding industrial development of the state as part of the completion agenda of Governor Emmanuel.

The project is to be funded by China Blue Sea International Holdings, and would be a major breakthrough in the industrial development of Akwa Ibom.

The concept of the park is seen as a development and improvement of similar project initiated by the former governor of the state, Victor Attah. Sadly, the project could not take off till Attah left office and was later abandoned even after more than 90 per cent of the contract sum was said to have been paid by the state government.

Given the importance of the project, Attah’s successor Godswill Akpabio had raised a committee to investigate the abandoned science park project. Although the committee submitted its report, its findings and recommendations were never implemented till Akpabio left office on completion of his two terms in office. As at the time the project was abandoned in 2006, its estimated cost was put at N6 billion.

It could be recalled that the former Governor Obong Attah had during Nemo Judex Chambers 2nd Annual Lectures held in December 9, 2021 with the theme “Setting Agenda for the Next Generation in Akwa Ibom” where he was the Keynote speaker made a case for the revisit of the project. He decried his successor’s abandonment of the project which has killed the lofty dreams and benefits accrued to the project for the state and people.

Attah has commended Governor Attah for his foresight to cue into his earlier dream for a science park and noted with appreciation the blueprint of the current science park being initiated, the Ibom Blue Sea Science and Technology Park which he acknowledged was an expansion of his earlier initiative with the inclusion of facilities such as the vocational training centre, university of technology and a five-star hotel.

The former governor who was present at the foundation laying ceremony said he was fulfilled because as Governor Emmanuel has revived what is going to be a life transforming.

“I have come here because I feel really fulfilled. I thank the governor, not just because he has revived what I know is going to be a life-transforming project, but because in so doing, he has brought an end to that era of destructive politicking whereby we turn our back on projects initiated by our predecessors.”

The Consul General of the People’s Republic of China, Chu Mac Ming who commended Akwa Ibom State government for revisiting the science park project has given assurance that the China Blue Sea International Holdings will deliver the project on schedule and in high quality.

“I require that the Chinese company will finish this project and deliver the project in due time and in high quality, that is a requirement, that is not a request. We must ensure the quality; we must ensure the efficiency”.

Similarly, the state government in furtherance of Government Emmanuel completion agenda on key infrastructural and economic development in the state has equally partners Chinese investors on the Ibom Deep Seaport project.

The government had recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a Chinese consortium led by China Harbour and Engineering Company for the construction of the multi-billion Naira project which has been in limbo for over 15 years since its conceptualisation.

The project which like the Science Park was a brain child of Governor Attah had gone through several paper work without taking off before Governor Emmanuel got a go ahead from the Federal Government to go on with the project which led to the renowned maritime engineering conglomerate enlisted to handle it.

Like the assurance given by Consul General of China in Nigeria Mui on the timely completion of the Science Park, the Chairman of China Harbour Engineering Company Mr. Martin Chen said that that the company reputed to be the largest port building firm in the world with the construction of ports in different parts of the world, including the Lekki Deep Seaport which was nearing completion will cue into the desire and commitment of the governor to actualize the Ibom Deep Seaport project. Chen who said the Chinese conglomerate was attracted to the state to partner with the government in the construction of the Seaport due to the peaceful nature of the state as against the prevailing insecurity across the country expressed their desire to work with the state Government to deliver on the project.

The Ibom Deep Sea Port is a Public Private Partnership Initiative under a 60 percent private and 40 percent public sector arrangement.

The total cost of construction of the Ibom Deep Seaport is $4.6 billion but the cost of the first phase of the project which has been approved by the Federal Government is put at $2.016 billion.

Some vital technical details of the design parameters of the port reveals that the port will be constructed in phases and the first phase of it will have 10 Terminals which would contain, Marine Services Centre, Naval Facility for Security, Custom Yard outside the Port Terminal with a 20km approach channel; 450m width to provide for 2-lane traffic, 2 breakwaters (1,350m and 600m) total quay length of about 7.5km( fully developed), berth depth of 16m+, Channel depth (18m+), turning basin 600m design for container vessel of 120,000 DWT;LOA 366m, Draft 16m+ and Beam 49m”. According to the blueprint, the second phase will include the extension of the seaport with an additional 495 hectares of land to accommodate a channel of 18.24m, turning basin berth depth of 16.72m, and a quay length of 7.5km to enable it harbour big vessels.

Apart from guaranteed employment generation, the Ibom Deep Sea Port is expected to boost the state’s Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, a big boost. Apart from its envisaged natural advantage of being the deepest Sea Port in the West African Sub Region, it will not only expand Nigeria’s maritime business but will serve as a major investment hub with regards to import and export.

Other advantages accrued to the project include opening windows of job opportunities to people such as terminal operators, longshoremen, freight forwarders, steamship agents, ship pilots, tug and towboat operators, chandlers, warehousemen, as well as jobs in the dredging, marine construction, ship repair, trucking and railroad industries.

According to government the direct port sector job opportunities envisaged through the seaport will further support other thousands of related jobs due to purchases of food, housing, transportation, apparel, medical and entertainment services. It will equally provide direct services to the cargo and vessel activity to support their direct activity and supporting another indirect job such as suppliers of parts and equipment; firms providing maintenance and repair services to the businesses dependent on port operations, utilities providing services to marine terminals; and office supply firms.

The Ibom Deep Seaport which is a major component of the Ibom Industrial City, is jointly owned by the Federal Government through the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, Akwa Ibom State government and private investors, through a Public Private Partnership, PPP arrangement.

In order to create available man power for Governor Emmanuel industrialization agenda, his government has in recent years instituted several entrepreneurial and skill training for youths in several sectors. One of which is the 3000-skill training programme for youths which witnessed the first batch of 1000 of the trainings recently empowered with seed money and starter packs.

Although many discerning people of the state, especially the crop of opposition has described the completion agenda mantra of Governor Emmanuel as a mirage, but the Governor has insisted that he stands by his desire and promise to complete all major ongoing infrastructural projects before he leaves office by May 2023.

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