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I have met many kings and world leaders but the Ooni is different — Arab billionaire Al Natour

•Speaks on the green cities to provide jobs for millions of Nigerian youths

By Chris Onuoha

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, has established a business partnership with an Arab billionaire, Sharif Ahmad Bin Jaber Al Natour, to create massive job opportunities for youths in Yorubaland and in Nigeria in general. The partnership was formally announced during a ceremony that took place at the Ile-Oodua palace in Ile-Ife on Monday, August 27, during which both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

From left: Al Natour, Ooni Ogunwusi and President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Jordanian businessman, based in Morocco and owns Global Trade and Development Corporation (GTDC) group, which recently disbursed US$800m for commercial ventures in livestock, sugar and sugarcane in North Central Timor Global conglomerate, was in the country on a three-day visit to meet with the Ooni and President Muhammadu Buhari on various areas of possible collaboration.

GDTC is a global company with presence in over 176 countries and immense investment in human development and infrastructural facilities.

Al Natour said he was visiting Oba Ogunwusi in support of the king’s efforts to unify Africans in Diaspora through his peace and unity agenda. According to him, he is committed to building green cities in Nigeria under the Ooni/GDTC Investment Nigeria Limited collaboration as a collective instrument of social, humanitarian, industrial and commercial projects to provide happiness and give a new lease of life to millions of Nigerians.

“I have met many kings and world leaders but the Ooni of Ife dazzles me most. I love him so much. I follow his activities. He goes around the world to unify Africans in Diaspora through his peace and unity agenda. I also love his youth development quest. That is why I am here at Ile-Ife to partner him on green energy and green environment for the benefit of the people of Yoruba and Nigeria,” Al Natour said

He went further to declare Ile-Ife as his second home, saying that with the MoU, the technological hub, in its first phase, is expected to facilitate massive employment of youths in Nigeria.

“I have built schools, hospitals and houses around 168 countries in six continents of the world. My focus now is to come home, which is Ile-Ife, to partner this globally respected monarch who preaches peace around the globe. The Ooni is not just my business partner; he is also my father who has assured me of his unflinching support to invest heavily in the continent in the area of agriculture and renewable energy technology that will promote international trade in Africa. With this MoU signed today with the Ooni, our planned technological hub, in its first phase, will surely facilitate massive employment of youths in Nigeria,” the Jordanian prince said.

Ooni Ogunwusi, while signing the MoU, expressed optimism that the project would spur development across Nigeria and Africa at large. He explained that the partnership was fast-tracked to ensure that the success of the project can start benefiting the teeming unemployed youths as soon as possible.

“I am very proud to be associated with the new birth of GDTC investment in Nigeria. I will work with you on a very long time basis not on a short time basis. We need a lot of investments to make sure that things are properly done in this part of the world. We need a lot of private and public partnerships for large transactions capable of providing jobs for youths and a lot of humanitarian services for them. We need to also see how to reform the mindset of our youth very positively. I am so impressed with the green energy and green city you want to partner with us which will help our teeming youths to be gainfully employed”, the monarch stated.

“We are blessed in  Nigeria to have a  philanthropist like you who want to start philanthropic works in our country, starting from this Kingdom of Ile-Ife which is the traditional home for the Yoruba people and which is the source of your forefathers too.”

“Because I want my people in Yorubaland to benefit from this gesture; that was why I first brought you home before taking you to meet with Mr. President in Abuja”.

The Co-chairman of National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria said Nigeria needs a lot of public private partnership (PPP) to boost the country’s economy, describing wealth as vanity if it cannot be used for humanity.

“This life is full of vanity and the only thing you can do to be remembered for is your service to humanity,” Ogunwusi said

In another development, the Ooni will declare open another initiative of the House of Oduduwa Foundation called the Ojaja Fashion Institute during Africa Fashion Week Nigeria that holds on September 16, 2018.

According to the CEO of the House of Oduduwa Foundation, Prince Jide Fadairo; “The establishment of the Ife-based Ojaja Fashion Institute is a landmark and unprecedented development for young people based in a rural environment.  The primary focus is to develop the fashion clothing making skills of young people to not only develop a new skill-set for themselves, but  also to enable them to cater for their collective community in terms of manufacturing for event-based occurrences such as the numerous cultural festivals, weddings, funerals and corporate events prevalent in their society. The bigger picture and vision of this initiative is to eventually develop the group into commercialized manufacturing both for fashion demand but also state and federal requirements for uniforms and so on.”

Continuing, the CEO said: “An initiative of this nature has not been engaged thus far to develop the skill levels of young people which hitherto have only been available in major cities like Lagos and Abuja. It will therefore fill a significant gap in this category and moving forward; will place the members of the institute in good stead for the future. Another unique element of fashion design is that it offers the students the exciting opportunity of not only creating contemporary trends but to also develop numerous young entrepreneurs into the informal and formal sectors.”

According to him, a career in fashion designing begins the process where the Ojaja Fashion Institute trainees may develop into the higher stages of fashion industry. “These fashion designing students could take up positions as fashion designers, fashion coordinators, stylists, merchandisers, textile analysts, pattern maker, production managers, production managers, store managers and fashion illustrated and if interested they could also become fashion journalists,” he added.


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