(NEWS INVESTIGATORS) Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has fulfilled a key part of his campaign promise to ensure the completion of the Ibom Deep Seaport project before the end of his administration as evidenced by the securing of the final approval for commencement of the project.
Approval of the Full Business Case of the project by the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday signalled a completion of series of approvals for the prime A¹ project which has outlasted two previous administrations until this cheery news today.
Since his emergence, Governor Emmanuel has invested enormous energy, business contacts and resources toward acquiring requisite approvals for the commencement of the project because he believes it will greatly enhance the state’s economy and create vast employment opportunities for Nigerians.
During his state-wide broadcast to mark the 33rd anniversary of the state, in Uyo, the Akwa-Ibom state capital, earlier in the year, the governor vowed that his administration will secure a breakthrough for the project, revealing that government was working hard to ensure cooperation with all the regulatory agencies in fulfillment of this desire.
Speaking to this reporter on implications of the latest and final approval for the Ibom Deep Seaport, the Commissioner for Economic Development and Deep Seaport, Mr. Akan Okon disclosed that since “port construction is on the Exclusive List the Ibom Deep Seaport needed to be approved by the Federal Government.
“It started with an OVC and approval of the procurement process, we then moved to the setting up of the Ministerial Project Development Steering Committee made up of representatives from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) and Federal Ministry of Finance.
“This committee approved the procurement process for the port which included issuance of request for qualification, request for proposal from prospective bidders. Eventually, those that submitted were evaluated and a preferred bidder emerged by name Bollore/Power China.
“With that emergence, we needed to prepare a Full Business Case for the development of Ibom Deep Seaport, which is what has been approved by the Federal Executive Council today for Ibom Deep Seaport to commence construction”.
The Commissioner further revealed that with the final approval the project will kick start almost immediately, adding “this is what we’ve been waiting for. We have a preferred bidder in place and even as the process of approval was ongoing we had appointed a technical team to carry on with the various studies required for the construction of the port jointly between the State government and the preferred bidder”.
He emphasized that Governor Udom Emmanuel has fulfilled his promise to Akwa Ibom people as regards the project and with this approval all activities required to commence the project will be in fast track.
“I’m very certain that within the tenure of His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel, we’ll receive the first vessel in that port. I want to give glory to God first and then commend our godsent Governor for his tireless commitment and determination to actualize this project and of course, the Federal Executive Council under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari ( GCFR) for this approval.
“The Governor believes strongly that we’ve very determined and intelligent young people in this State who must be gainfully employed and he believes that the Ibom Deep Seaport will provide such opportunities which is why he has not relented in committing resources to ensure the actualization of the project”.
Mr. Okon also disclosed that the governor is very happy with this feat just as every well meaning Akwa Ibom citizen who knows what such a project means to our economy should be happy.
“My advise to our people especially the youth is that we don’t have to wait for the project to kickstart for us to start preparing for the emerginng opportunities. Now that approval has finally been secured, we should upgrade our knowledge and obtain relevant skills that will be required, from construction to operation of the port, so that we can meet qualifications to work there.”
In addition, he urged Akwa Ibom citizens within the State and in Diaspora to seize opportunity in the port to invest in development of the State.