VP Osinbajo In Imo State For The Flag-off Of The Dredging Project Of Oguta Lake/ Orashi River To The Atlantic Ocean On 11/05/2023
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE HYDROGRAPHIC SURVEY AND DREDGING OF THE PROPOSED SEA ROUTE FROM OGUTA LAKE ORASHI DEGEMA TO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN, IMO STATE ON THE 11TH OF MAY, 2023
Let me begin by bringing the very warm felicitations of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari who has asked me to extend his congratulations to the governor, government and people of Imo today
It gives me great pleasure to join you at this historic flag off of the Hydrographic Survey and Dredging of the Proposed Sea Route from Oguta Lake- Orashi- Degema to the Atlantic Ocean. This project is a vital collaboration between the State Government, the Nigerian Navy, and a consortium of technical partners. It was initiated, approved and set in motion under the stewardship of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Hope Uzodimma.
As far back as 1914, the British, understanding its strategic importance in connecting the hinterlands to the coast, utilized this route to facilitate the smooth export of products such as palm oil, timber, and coal, from Oguta and its neighbouring regions. The route has always been a vital component of our nation’s potential for increased trade and economic prosperity.
Today, we aim to revive this once vibrant and economically strategic channel, furthering job creation and sustainable growth in Imo State and the entire Southeast region. By enhancing coastal connectivity and facilitating seamless transportation, the project will promote trade and investment, spur growth in multiple sectors including shipping, manufacturing, and agriculture, and offer numerous opportunities for the people.
But the good news doesn’t end there. The President, only a few days ago granted Governor Hope Uzodimma’s request to declare Oguta/Ohaji/Egbema and its environs as an oil and gas free trade zone. This proposed free trade zone has one of the largest hydrocarbon deposits in the country. Again, this is another clear winner. The synergy between the dredged sea route and the free trade zone will deliver enormous commercial benefits.
Also with the dredging project, the Navy will be better equipped to protect our coastlines, thereby curbing crude oil theft and illegal bunkering and other criminal activities that appear to have taken advantage of the difficulty of the terrain for the operational use of naval platforms.
A secure environment paves the way for a thriving business landscape and increased revenue for all parties, including states and the federal government.
As improved access to the sea stimulates exports and imports, the coastal communities in these parts will be better positioned to reap the rewards of increased trade and income. There is no better time to have set this in motion.
You can rest assured that the Federal Government will continue its support of the State in ensuring that we bring this project to fruition and realize its full capabilities.
But none of this can be done without the full support of the community who, without doubt, remain invaluable partners in unlocking the vast potential of this region. Your participation, understanding, and cooperation are essential in overcoming any challenges that may arise during the implementation phase. I urge you all to join hands with the government and stakeholders involved to ensure a seamless execution that benefits everyone. By working together, we can create a vibrant economic corridor that will transform our community and benefit us for generations to come.
Let me especially commend the foresight and political pragmatism of your dynamic governor, His Excellency, Hope Uzodinma. Aside from the numerous infrastructure projects that he has undertaken in barely three years, I have been here to commission several road projects. He has also mastered the art of close collaboration with the Federal government for the benefit of this State and the South-East region.
This project for example could not have been done without the blessing of the President, the oil and gas free zone also needed and obtained Presidential approval.
Again, on the governor’s application and request the Federal Government approved the complete take-over of Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri, as well as the conversion and upgrading of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri to a teaching hospital for training doctors by the Federal University of Technology, Owerri.
The last time I was here in Imo, it was to commission a garment industry shared facility for Imo young people, donated by the Federal Government under our MSME Clinics programme. Not long after, His Excellency, Mr. President, also graced this land personally to commission key road projects.
But this project we are here today to flag off is unique. There are projects and there are projects. This is an economic transformation project, it is a game changer for Imo state, Nigeria and the West Coast of Africa.
It is one of those one-of-a-kind projects whose benefits have always been glaring, but vision, courage and tenacity were required to bring it to fruition. We all owe Governor Hope Uzodimma gratitude for bringing hope to our nation and our subregion and we commend him for his wise, creative and focused leadership. Your Excellency, I urge you to keep up the great work, this State and our nation will be all the better for your purpose-driven governance and leadership.
It is now my special privilege to officially inaugurate this historic endeavour – the Hydrographic Survey and Dredging of the Proposed Sea Route from Oguta Lake to the Atlantic Ocean.
This project will fulfil its promise of radical transformation, not only for this economy but that of the Southeast and our nation as a whole.
Thank you all very much for listening.