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When Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade assumed duty in 2015, he said his priority was to ensure that the state pursued governance that is not totally dependent on allocations from the Federation Account. This he sought to realise by an aggressive industrialisation drive and being on the lookout for investors the world over.
A boost to the governor’s drive is the collaboration with the Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND Foundation).
PIND Foundation, a Nigerian non-profit organisation established by Chevron Corporation to build partnerships and equitable development in the Niger Delta, believes that no single organisation can solve the complex and interconnected challenges in the Niger Delta region alone, hence the need for collaboration.
According to the Executive Director of the Foundation, Dr. Dara Akala, they adopted the partnership approach based on the fact that it enables organisations to combine resources, capabilities, and technical expertise with others for greater collective impact.
Akala, who says their programme areas cover economic development, peace building, capacity building, and analysis and advocacy, revealed that under their economic development programme, they have facilitated the creation of over 12,501 jobs in the aquaculture, cassava, palm oil and business linkages sectors.
Their interventions, which sp-an across the nine states of the Niger Delta, in the agriculture sub-sectors and through business linkages for Small and Medium Enterpris-es (SMEs) have also increased the productivity of up to 72,801 farmers. Additionally, PIND Foundation helped leverage over N3.1 billion in new investments through fostered partnerships.
Akala said: “Through our economic development interventions in Cross River State, we have helped to create additional jobs and income for farmers; adopting best farm management approaches and improved fish pond practices.
For example, last year alone, we reached out to 1,047 farmers and SMEs in Cross River State, recorded an increase of over N240 million in incomes for farmers and created 592 additional jobs.”
PIND’s partnership with the state began in 2016 and was codified by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support the state in her development effort, part of which was support to provide technical assistance in the development of the 30-year Growth and Development Str-ategy (GDS) for the state.
Taking the partnership to the next level between them was the recent launch of the GDS in Calabar, which was created through an inclusive and participatory approach with stakeholders and partners.
Speaking during the launch of the International Collaboration and Investors’ Summit, Akala, who was represented by the Deputy Executive Director, Tunji Idowu, said with state governments, the organisation supports strategic and regulatory reform through things like facilitating investment reports to aid the ease of doing business.
Additionally, providing technical assistance through the production of sector-specific strategies and agriculture policies, reforming ministries, departments and agencies through organisational assessments to improve performance and helping develop long-term development plans.
Akala called for legislative backing for the GDS document so that successive administrations can continue to build on its foundations and creation of a robust monitoring and evaluation framework to ensure the strategy effectively delivers on its vision.
The Foundation described the summit as a significant milestone in the transformation of the state’s economy.
“The Niger Delta needs new approaches and platforms such as this summit for setting strategic directions and working smarter together towards attracting the much-needed investments for development and wealth creation in the region,” he said.
According to him, the Cross River International Collaboration and Investors’ Summit was designed to develop business partnerships between bilateral and multilateral development partners, investors and the government of Cross River State in the fields of infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, gover-nance and finance.
The GDS aids this by giving investors and development partners a blueprint for the state because it is a long-term strategic plan with 10 thematic areas around the economic pillars of agriculture, infrastructure, energy and tourism. Implementation of the plan will address current and future financial pressure on the state’s ability to deliver service and sustain the confidence of its people through advanced strategies and tactics.
After the launch of the GDS, Idowu, who, along with other dignitaries participated in a panel discussion with the theme “Partnerships and Inclusive Gr-owth Opportunities for Cross River State,” promoted inter-state integration within the Niger Delta region for economic development.
During the session, which focused on how to ensure transportation linkages through waterways, rail connectivity and exploration of deep-sea potential, he urged that for inclusive growth, there was need for commitment, active collaboration and synergy among all stakeholders across every stratum of governance in formulating and implementing development plans.
Governor Ayade, who performed the launch, said his administration was committed to changing the notion that the state was civil service-oriented and was actively working to instill spirit of enterprise.
Ayade, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Tina Agbor, said he was committed to creating public wealth and an atmosphere conducive to business.
Presenting the Growth and Development Strategy, the Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor, Dr. Fra-ncis Ntamu said the state government has deliberately articulated and implemented business-friendly policies and measures designed to attract investors into the state.
In his remarks, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Major-General Lee In-Tae, said the state was not just home to many tourist sites and a great place to visit, but also a land with great opportunity and economic potential, rich in natural and human resources.
He exalted Cross River State as a place with the promise for growth, as there were great investment opportunities. He added that he would encourage Korean companies to seek more ventures in the state.
“I will bring Korea investments to the state to strengthen our collective growth trajectory. Korea will always be your friend in your times of need and will continue efforts to strengthen our bilateral relat-ionships,” he said.
Also, the Ambassador, Royal Norwegian Embassy of Nigeria, Jens-Petter Kjemprud, said the potential of the state were enormous, even as it has a governor who has vision.
The two-day International Collaboration and Investors’ Summit drew participants from renowned insti-tutions such as the World Bank Group, United Nations, McKinsey and Company, Infrastructure Bank PLC, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Royal Norwegian Embassy and German Co-operation (GIZ).
Others were the United States Consulate – Lagos, Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund, Embassy of the Republic of Korea, African Development Bank (AfDB) United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Committee of Red Cross, Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta, Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Abuja and Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Abuja.
Source; The Nation Newspaper