Oba Onitedo of Itedo (Oke-Odo Iwerekun Elemoroland), Oba Tajudeen Elemoro (2ndright), Oloja of Epe, Oba Kabiru Animashaun (middle), Oba Aladeshonyin Of Noforija Kingdom, Oba Babatunde Ogunlaja, IP, (left) and others during the formal introduction ceremony of Dangote Refinery and Fertilizer project to the host community at the Lekki Free Trade Zone, Akodo, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, on Sunday, February 09, 2014. With him are: Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Olusola Oworu (2nd left), Alhaji Aliko Dangote (right) and others.
A major milestone was achieved Sunday in the quest to speed up development in the Lekki Free Trade Zone as the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) formally introduced President of the Dangote Group of Companies and arrowhead of the proposed Dangote Refineries and Petrochemical Company in the zone, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, to the host communities signaling the formal takeoff of the multi-billion Naira investment at the zone.
The major highlight of Sunday’s ceremony was the unanimous agreement by the host communities to accept and cooperate with the company and other investors in the development of the zone.
Fielding questions from journalists after the ceremony which featured unanimous acclamation by members of the communities including Obas, Baales and community leaders as well as youths, Governor Fashola expressed joy at the development saying it signals a breakthrough in the quest to fast track development in the Zone.
The Governor, who acknowledged that there is no relationship where there will be no misunderstanding, declared, “We have reached an agreement in public. There has been a clear understanding today. We spoke in both local language and dialect and you can see that by clear show of hands the people themselves have given their support. It wasn’t a voice vote; it was a unanimous show of hands that they want this project; so we are ready to go.
Pointing out that whenever there are misunderstandings it is the duty of Government that such do not disrupt the activities in the trade zone, Governor Fashola, however, asserted, “I find it hard to reconcile the demand for jobs and disturbing the factories and industries that will provide jobs’.
The Governor, who exhibited great excitement, declared, “Lekki Free Trade Zone is beginning to take shape. The Master Plan is being realized, investors are trouping in. Tank farms and major refineries are springing up to service the demands of the country and make room for export. The refineries create a major selling point and release of the opportunities that lie ahead in this zone, create opportunities for the local people and the potentials for Lagos and the Nigerian economy”.
Also fielding questions from journalists, President of the Dangote Group of Companies, Alhaji Aliko Dangote praised the Governor for the initiative to establish the trade zone saying it would be the biggest of such zones in the African Continent.
“Looking at what the Governor has done by bringing this here I can assure you that this is going to be the biggest free trade zone in the African Continent and I know that the people will begin to show their appreciation”, the Group’s President said.
Expressing confidence that the Zone holds enormous economic benefits for Lagos State and the country, Alhaji Dangote declared, “For instance, there is no way we can put down over nine billion Dollars ($9 billion) of our money here without making sure that the zone is going to work”, adding that his Group was going to work at a very high speed.
Alhaji Dangote had earlier said the communities stand to benefit enormously as over 8,000 engineers would be trained while jobs would be created for youths of the communities.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Sola Oworu, said establishing a refinery in the zone has opened up enormous economic opportunities not only for Lagos but for Nigeria adding that only about 35 percent of the goods to be produced in the zone would be consumed in Lagos while the rest would be exported.
In his vote of thanks, the House of Representatives member representing Ibeju-Lekki Federal Constituency, Hon. Yomi Aiyeola, commended the Fashola administration for the giant strides already taken in the zone saying that the investment would in no distant future blossom into a world class zone.
He pledged that by the consensus reached, it would henceforth be an abomination for any member of the communities to disturb investors in the area or interrupt development of the Free Zone.
Also present at the occasion were Traditional Rulers including Aladeshonyin of Noforija, Oba Babatunde Ogunlaja, Alara of Ilara, Oba Akeem Adesanya, Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice George Ade Oguntade (rtd.), community leaders, residents and other stakeholders.