The Lagos State Government has promised to partner the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) to create a platform for businesses to thrive in Nigeria.
The assurance was made by Governor. Babajide Sanwo-Olu when the Managing Director of NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, and his team paid him a courtesy visit at the Lagos House, Marina on Thursday.
Sanwo-Olu said that free zone, as a catalyst for exports and development, could bring about real growth of the economy as non-oil export, if well utilised.
He said that around the world, many countries had been able to turn their free trade zones into a catalyst for export and development.
According to him, it is only when those kinds of things happen that one can see the real growth of the economy, attract foreign direct investments and create a very competitive environment.
”Lekki Free Trade zone is the biggest in the country, and for us it has come into reality.
”We are indeed happy in terms of investment that is coming there and those that still want to come there; from port to refinery, chemical plants and other large industries that are coming up.
”We are indeed happy that we have a chairman that is very versatile in investment banking and financial transactions.
”We are going to partner with Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority to build a good platform for foreign businesses and international direct foreign access to come to this environment and the country.
”Our people would be the direct beneficiaries of those investments.
“We can see real growth happening in our economy and we can open up the economy bigger and better than where we met it,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said that the federal agency remained a critical intervention agency that could take the country forward, hence, the need for the state to collaborate with it.
”I think it will be a big shame for all of us in our own time if we cannot double or triple what we met on the ground.
”We need to improve on what we met and take it bigger and higher. We need to have a zone that is alive that people can see real genuine opportunities and will not constitute a problem to the wheel of progress.
”Lagos is indeed ready to collaborate with Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority to create a platform where businesses can thrive in the country because it is a critical authority and an intervention agency that can take this country forward.
”Indeed, if we use it very well, it can be part of other means for our development. We need to build enterprise and look beyond oil. We need to look for other non-oil export and the free zone can give us all that opportunity,” the governor said.
Speaking earlier, Adesugba said the NEPZA had presence in Lagos State, as 14 out of 42 free zones in the country were in the state.
He said that the zones, if properly put to use, could provide 15, 000 jobs in the state.
The NEPZA boss said that the courtesy visit was necessary, so as to familiarise with Gov. Sanwo-Olu and to inform him about the challenges and issues relating to the agency in Lagos State.
”We need to work together to get it right. Free zones concept should be supported by government.
”We are very positive that the collaboration between the agency and Lagos State Government will be helpful to the state and Nigeria as a whole,” he said.
Among those present at the event were Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo; his Commerce counterpart, Mrs Lola Akande; and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce, Mr Oladele Ajayi.
Also in attendance were the Solicitor-General of the State and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Ms. Titilayo Shitabey; Chairman, Lekki Worldwide Investment Ltd, Mr Biodun Dabiri; Managing Director, Lekki Worldwide Investment. Ltd., Dr Tunde Sodade; and the Company Secretary, Mr Biodun Oluwa.
Others are General Manager, NEPZA, Muazu Ruma; Chairman, Nigeria Private Sector Alliance (NIPSA), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN); and the Technical Adviser to the of NEPZA, Mr Adewale Folowosele