By Jeremiah Odey
Assuming office as the 18th Governor of Cross River State on May 29, 2023, Senator Bassey Otu articulated a strategic vision for the state’s brownfield assets, emphasizing an impartial public sector value comparative analysis. He committed to a professional economic management team, advocating for non-traditional, non-recourse hybrid financing products in collaboration with the private sector.
A few months into office, Governor Otu translated his vision into action by convening “The Paradigm Shift,” an economic summit held in Calabar. Addressing the assembly, he underscored the administration’s initiative to catalyze growth through capital importation of foreign direct investments. The state’s appeal, characterized by hosting the largest Free Trade Zone, a near-zero crime rate, and a welcoming citizenry, was highlighted.
The tangible results of these efforts were evident in a recent investors’ roundtable on November 9, 2023, organized by High Chief Peter Higgins at the Mega Hilton Hotel. Dignitaries such as the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Secretary to the State Government, and Chief of Staff to the Governor were present, providing a platform for investors to outline their plans and areas of interest.
Bong Duke, representing the government, disclosed that 150,000 hectares of land were earmarked for rice farms, with an additional 100,000 hectares dedicated to cassava production. He emphasized a transformative approach, urging investors to perceive the state as an opportunity beyond Nigeria.
Rt. Hon. Elvert Ayambem, at the roundtable, assured investors of the assembly’s commitment to expeditiously process legislation supporting investment, trade, and revenue generation. Dr. Basheer Oshodi, a SUKUK expert and financial advisor, expressed excitement about investing in Cross River State, aligning with projects deemed worthwhile.
Representing Chinese-owned companies, Mr. David Gowa conveyed their readiness to engage in agriculture and construction, particularly in hydropower generation, aiming to propel Cross River State to the next level.
Mike Odere, the Commissioner for Finance, reassured attendees of abundant investment opportunities within the state. High Chief Edem Duke commended Governor Otu’s economic initiatives, extending appreciation to High Chief Higgins for facilitating the gathering.
In a closing remark, Prof. Anthony Owan-Enoh, the Secretary to the State Government, reiterated the state government’s readiness to support private initiatives, affirming its commitment to scaling up investment.
Some of those in attendance include Mr. Eka Williams, Commissioner of Power and Renewable Energy, Mrs. Beatrice Igwe, Housing Commissioner, Commissioner of Tourism and Culture, Hon. Robert Ewa, Commissioner of Sports Development, Hon. Agnes Atsu, directors of agencies and commissions, special advisers and senior government officials.
(Odey writes from Calabar)