THE efforts of the All Peoples Congress (APC)-led government to attract foreign direct investment into Nigeria got a boost recently when a consortium of Chinese businessmen under the aegis of One Belt One Road Funds Management Company Ltd (OBOR) arrived the country.
Earlier, the company signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Government and some governors of the North Central states during President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to China.
The group, led by its Chairman, Mr. Rujun Yuan, and its core managers, was accompanied by the Nigerian High Commissioner to China, Mr. Orevba Olusola, newly appointed OBOR Director of Liaison in Nigeria and President, Blue Diamond Logistics, China, Mr. Festus Mbisiogu. Six Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were signed between both countries. OBOR was in Nigeria, having discovered potential investment opportunities in such areas as housing, agriculture, petroleum, power, rail, road and infrastructure.
OBOR is a private international investment company that funds government projects all over the world. The first port of call was the Chinese Embassy where they were received by the Charge D’ affaires after which the group moved to Federal Mortgage Bank (FMB), and the acting Chairman/ CEO, Dr Richard Esin, was on hand to welcome them.
In his welcome address, Esin said government was ready to partner with OBOR in the provision of affordable housing for millions of Nigerians. He noted that there is 17million housing deficit in the country with more than four million applications from individuals and corporate organisations waiting for response. He assured the company of government’s commitment towards meeting the housing needs of Nigerians. According to Esin, $5billion loan from the World Bank was almost secured for this purpose.
He restated government’s commitment to building 30,000 homes across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). He said: “The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, plans to concession 40 major roads to fasttrack development in the country”.
On his part, Yuan promised that Nigerians would be shocked by the innovation his company would bring to the housing sector through partnering with the bank.
He revealed plans to engage a foremost construction and manufacturing company, Shanghai Engineering and Construction Company Nig. Ltd, to establish all building materials production line in the country to make cost of building materials cheap as this would accelerate affordable housing for all Nigerians in line with the goal of the present government.
The management of Sterling Bank Plc hosted the delegation and assured them of its willingness to partner OBOR in terms of funding. The group also had talks with officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at its Headquarters in Abuja. The Minister of State for Petroleum and Chairman of the Corporation, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, said the recent restructure in NNPC was to reposition the corporation to meet the needs of Nigerians and confront global economic challenge which has resulted in the dwindling in the price of oil.
He explained various areas which the Chinese business delegation could explore in the Nigeria oil industry. In his response on behalf of OBOR, Mr. Yuan said they hoped to participate in exploration, upgrading, maintenance, logistics and training of manpower.
He commended the government of President Buhari for its efforts towards infrastructural development and the fight against corruption which, according to him, is applauded globally.
They were received in Benue State by Governor Samuel Ortom and hosted to a colorful banquet where they were conferred with chieftaincy titles. The governor explained that the result of what they were seeing was part of the benefits of President Buhari’s visit to China.
Governor Ortom recalled how as Minister of State for Trade and Investment, he wood Chinese businessmen to invest in Nigeria. Ortom said: “It is a dream come true to see OBOR in Benue State”. He urged them to explore all possible investment opportunities in the state.
He noted that Benue is still a virgin land waiting to be tapped. Mr. Yuan assured Ortom of his company’s preparedness to replicate a sister city it constructed in Lanzou Province, ‘Lanzou City’ in Makurdi which, he said, would be a centre of attraction when completed.
Other areas of interests to the Chinese company, apart from housing, include power and industry as well as agriculture, as arrangement has been completed to start construction of Soya bean mill in Taraku.
The highlight of the event was the signing of MoU with the state government. The train later moved to Plateau State where Governor Simon Lalong hosted them to a state banquet.
He commended the delegation for coming to finalize agreement reached with the governors of Nigeria’s North Central states during the 1st North Central-China Business Summit held last month in Guangzhou, China.
Lalong expressed confidence in the delegation for considering Plateau State as investment haven because it is endowed with mineral resources which are valuable to investors.
The governor used the medium to show appreciation to Mbisiogu for arranging and facilitating a number of high profile meetings and discussions between the Platuea State delegation and a number of Chinese companies during the North Central Nigeria-China Summit, Guangzhou, where he domiciled considering the vast knowledge and experience of Chinese business procedures and process.
Responding, Yuan assured the government and people of the state of its company’s commitment to the development of Plateau. He used the opportunity to invite Lalong, other governors, Nigeria government officials, captains of industry to this year’s Investment Forum tagged “China-African Finance and Industry Corporation” Summit which will hold in October 19, 2016 at Lanzhou City.
He said “It will serve as a business match making forum and will be chaired by Governor Ortom”. OBOR also signed MoU with the state government on agriculture, solid minerals, roads and power. Meanwhile, members of OBOR has set their eyes on making a footprint in Nigerian financial sector by turning around the fortune of the nation hence the reason to replicate the success it has had in Asia, Europe and here in Africa.
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