The African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for African Development (AUDA-NEPAD), has indicated its willingness to work together with the Federal Government of Nigeria and Imo State Government in ensuring the realisation of the objectives of the dredging of Oguta Lake and Orashi River, stating that it would foster coastal connectivity and facilitate seamless transportation, as well as provide job creation opportunities, trade and investment, and spur growth in multiple sector, among others.
The Chief Executive Officer of AUDA-NEPAD, Gloria Akobundu, who described the project as innovative and timely, said the organisation was ready to offer necessary assistance in the area of mobilisation of funds and technical assistance to see that the dream of constructing the seaport was realised. The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), had recently flagged off the hypographic survey/dredging of sea route, stretching from the Oguta Lake to Orashi River to Degema and the Atlantic Ocean. The project, which involves the clearance of the entire route, was initiated by Governor Hope Uzodimma, as part of innovative efforts to open up the economic corridor in the South-East and enhance maritime security in the Niger Delta region.
This would be executed in partnership with the Nigerian Navy alongside a consortium of international companies, under the Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement. According to the Chief Executive Officer of AUDA-NEPAD, supporting such an intervention project and aiding in the mobilisation of funding from investors in the public and private sectors, was part of NEPAD’s mandate. She said the seaport would be realised, if all stakeholders give support to the Imo State government in its execution. Her words: “Like I said, it takes a visionary leader and a deep thinker to understand his environment, identify challenges and proffer solutions. For me, coming from African Union Development Agency, it is a realisable project because the mandate of NEPAD is designed for such an intervention project and it is also designed to mobilise resources for such project and it is also designed to work with public and private sector PPP to be able to create jobs for our youths, grow the economy, and at the same time, ensure quality and good governance.
“So, looking at it from our study, our mandate, from the vision of the leaders putting together the African Union Development Agency and in realisation of Agenda 2063. We are all clamouring for the Africa we want, the Nigeria we desire to have; it is a win-win thing for Nigeria, it is a win-win thing for Imo state and for Africa at large because that project is going to curb insecurity, strengthen the economic growth”, as she reiterated that Oguta remains one of the oil trade zones, adding that if not protected and harnessed for economic development, Nigeria would be the loser.
While commending the foresight exhibited by the Imo State government in embarking on the project, Akobundu said the developmental project falls squarely on the mandate set for the African Union Development Agency. Probed about NEPAD’s attraction to the Oguta Lake project, Akobundu responded: “Nigeria needs to be developed; we shouldn’t care what region should have whatever it has, but wherever the opportunity to put up a facility that can support the development and economic growth of the country, we shouldn’t hesitate to do so.
“So, I see that particular project as a win-win, economic growth, development, job creation and stability of peace and security in the country”, she added. Commenting on the partnership with the Nigerian Navy, she said the achievement of the project would not profit Imo State alone, but Nigeria and Africa at large, as she said the development would help to secure the border line. Regarding the project’s economic and social benefits, she said it would undoubtedly increase the nation’s economy and employment creation, especially in the local communities, while easing the chronic traffic congestion seen at the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in Lagos.