By Michael Egbejule and Cornelius Essen, Benin City
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Tuesday invested N69 billion in the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP), an initiative of the Governor Godwin Obaseki administration to revive the sector for global competitiveness.
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, at the launch of the project in Benin City said with its profile as the nation’s largest oil palm plantation, Edo was “the best place to invest if the country must revive its oil palm industry.”
Commending Obaseki’s commitment to the growth of the industry, Emefiele restated that the apex bank would make the facility available for the programme.
In his remarks, Obaseki said the project was in line with his administration’s agenda to harness the state’s rich human and natural endowments to achieve economic growth and wellbeing of the people.
He reiterated the commitment of his government to diversify the state’s economy, achieve economic prosperity as well as create jobs and improve the lives of the people.
“The focus on the oil palm sector alone can stimulate and drive the economy of any state as it has done to Malaysia and Indonesia. This programme will enable us move from complaining and talking about what we have lost to concrete action towards regaining what has been lost,” the governor stated.
He said ESOPP would leverage the CBN facility, adding: “Ours is to remove the critical risk in the oil palm sector by solving the biggest hindrances to plantation farm in Nigeria and making land available to farmers.”
Obaseki said his administration had provided about 120,000 hectares for oil palm development in the state.
“Successful implementation of the programme will create over 600,000 more jobs as well as 25,000 hectares of forest cover. This programme will cost us about $600 million, which is approximately N200 billion. The money is there globally. It is never out of reach with investors on ground.”
The governor said he was setting up the ESOPP implementation office, noting that consultants, surveyors, community relations experts will be trained to review and ensure guidelines are strictly followed.
Besides, the governor has commended the Federal Government on its quest to fix the perennial erosion problem in Ekpoma, Esan West Local Council of the state.
Obaseki made the commendation while receiving a team from the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing led by the Director, Highway Design Road for South South Zone, Oluropo Oyetade, in Benin City.
He assured the delegation that the Edo government would support them to deliver the erosion control project.
According to him, his government would sensitise the people on structures to be demolished and compensated for the smooth take-off and completion of the project.