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‘Why we’re wooing foreign investors to Delta’

By Dapo Akinrefon
MR Dafe Sama is the Vice President of a Non-Governmental Organisation, the Captain Dafieko Sama Foundation. In this interview with Vanguard, Mr Sama explains the proposed seminar slated to hold in Delta State, which seeks to open business opportunities. He further bares his mind on the prospects of the seminar. Excerpts:

What is the Captain Dafieko Sama Foundation all about and why the choice of Delta State as your take off point?
The Non-Governmental Organization was established in memory of late Captain Dafieko Sama who died in the ADC plane crash which was returning from PortHarcourt. Apart from this, he was an advocate of air safety, we now felt we should establish a foundation in his memory. In addition, we also decided to organise a seminar on air safety which has been an annual event. Our objective, apart from air safety, is to focus on good governance.

On the choice of Delta State, you know we cannot embrace the whole 36 states at the same time. We chose Delta State for so many reasons; one of the reason is that late Captain Dafieko Sama was from Delta State and it is also one of the state in the delta region. And when you talk about peace, the next thing that comes to mind is Delta State. We picked the state because of the geographical position of Delta.

What does the seminar intends to achieve?
The seminar is actually to expose business opportunities in Delta State and of course, such an occasion will attract various people from all over. As I speak to you, we are in partnership with two other firms, one in the United States of America and the other one in South Korea.

They are coming in as full collaborators of the Sama Foundation.
As I speak with you, the Koreans have assured us that after the seminar, if well encouraged, they are going to partner with us and of course, that’s an achievement. If after such event, a group from South Korea decides to set up a factory, of course, that’s an achievement and will be of immense benefit to us all.

When is the seminar likely to hold and what type of investment are you looking at?
The seminar is coming up on April 27, 2010. You talked about the type of investment they have in mind. Like I said, they are a group of companies. They are into housing and into solar. We have been talking with them in the area of housing and they’ve indicated high patronage to actually come in and partner with us. It’s an open thing. We are coming in one at a time.

We decided to pick housing because we saw the need for housing in Delta State and it is specifically for civil servants. The kind of housing we are talking about, are going to be affordable at the end of the day.  It is structured in such a way that it’s going to be affordable and God knows, if they are well encouraged, they could go into other areas like agriculture, solar and so many other areas.

What assistance does the Delta State government intends to provide in ensuring the success of the event?
The Captain Dafieko Sama Foundation is not a new name to Delta State and the government of Delta State has been very friendly to us, right from the time of the former governor, Chief James Ibori, who did well for us in terms of encouraging our progamme.

The present governor, when he was the SSG, also helped out in so many areas and that sort of developed the friendship. But on this seminar, the governor’s office has been duly informed and they’ve indicated interest in the area of assistance. At the end of the day, I know that this event would attract investors for the people of the Delta State. Jobs will be created, crime rate will be reduced drastically.

Will the seminar be an annual event?
Like I said earlier, this particular seminar is all about exposing investment opportunities. We also hope to be in Jigawa and Kano states. The title of the seminar is Economic Revolution: Investing opportunities in Delta State. We are going to invite all the consuls of the various embassies to the seminar for them to start looking at investment in Nigeria. You see, the idea of this investment event is to tell them that Delta State is also good for investment.

We can’t start running to Lagos to buy toiletries and other domestic items, we can have a toilet factory in Delta or in Jigawa and not necessarily only in Lagos, let’s spread the wealth. And so, we are inviting the business community, not restricted to Nigeria alone but also foreigners.

People have a wrong impression about the Niger Delta region, but it’s not true. A lot of people want to invest but they are afraid, that is why we are asking them to come down to Delta State and make a difference. So many seminars have been held, but to make a difference, a post-event programme has been formed after the event.

It will manage the investment in partnership with the state government. It is going to be called the Nigerian-Korean Investment Association, which will manage the investment.


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