Â By Laja THOMAS
The countryâ€™s former vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, Ogun State Governor, OtunbaÂ Gbenga Daniel and the Presidential Adviser on Power, Professor Bart Nnaji have advocated that all stakeholders should quickly fashion out a workable template in the new drive to renew the countryâ€™s decaying infrastructure and make life better for Nigerians.
Â The three men spoke during the plenary session of the two-day Nigeriaâ€™s Golden Jubilee Business Summit which began last Monday at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Dr Ekwueme said it was a thing of regret that after many years the countryâ€™s power sector was still in dire strait, fuel was still being imported and housing stock cannot meet the needs of the people. He advised policy formulators and those who carry out projects at all tires of government to ensure that they factor in the interest of the common man and clearly map out how they would benefit from such projects at the stage of planning.
Professor Nnaji told participants who included financial experts from all over the World and Nigerians in the Diaspora that President Goodluck Jonathan was committed to re-energizing the power sector to meet the countryâ€™s needs. He said the electricity Reform Act of 2005 has become the road map that all players in the sector must follow while the Federal Government would stick by its decision not to be the dominant partner in any Private Public Partnership arrangement.
Governor Daniel who presided over the session on Project Finance and Investment in Infrastructure said why it was in imperative for government not to be directly involved in business it was critical for it to provide the enabling environment and guarantee to the private sector, especially in situation of what he described as national emergency as currently obtained in the power sector. The Governor decried a situation where millions of dollars are spent on studies and consultancy while the real projects fail to get off the ground several years after.
He advocated that planning, studies and consultancy on projects should be done with reasonable fund in order for it not to eat too deeply into the project funds.Â
Governor Daniel while enumerating the various business opportunities for investment in Ogun State said the government decided on the Private Public Partnership template in line with global realities.Â Describing the Deep sea port as a flagship project because of its strategic importance, Governor Daniel said on completion it would solve the problem of transshipment occasioned by the inability of existing port facilities to take massive vessels.
Â He assured investors at the summit that his administration would support them all the way as all measures have been put in place to ensure that they realize the objective of setting up various enterprises which he said would further deepen the economic development of the State and provide employment for its people
Aig Imokhuede, Managing Director of the Access BankÂ who was the lead speaker aligned with Governor Daniel saying that Government as a criticalÂ part of the chain which includes operators, regulatorsÂ investors , financiers and consumers cannot afford not to be involved in the process of project finance and investment. He said it was advisable to raise debt to finance long term project saying the PPP was critical to financing project and critical infrastructure.
Christian Udechukwu ,founder of Business in Africa Events organizer of the summit said the event was put together to find solutions to emerging issues and position Nigeria to absorb global investment since the traditional safe havens for investors are now wobbling andÂ international venture capitalists are now lookingÂ for new opportunities. Udechukwu saluted the commitment of the Ogun State Government for opening up its frontiers for new investment and creating the enabling environment to support investors and businesses.