Efforts by the Delta state government to cement trade relationship with South Africa to revamp the ailing Africa Timber and Plywood (AT&P) company in Sapele, the administrative headquarter of Sapele local government area has crashed as a Committee has been setup to auction some of the equipment.
Two years into the first tenure of the Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration, the former South African High Commissioner (Ambassador), to Nigeria, Lulu Louis Nguini, visited the state with about four companies on an investment tour of possible business opportunities.
Lulu Loius Nguini, who spoke on behalf of the representatives of the various companies in an interview with journalists shortly after the end of the tour at the premises of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Warri, said they were in the state to source for natural gas.
“We really feel quite pleased with this because it will not only strengthen our trade ties with the state but it also will impact on our political ties as both states are mutually re-enforcing. I hope that it will be a win for Delta State and a win for South Africa”, Nguini said on Tuesday, 10th October 2017.
He pointed out that the state has great potentials which his country would take advantage of, “and I hope also that this will assist in the development of the state and it will create jobs in Nigeria and in Delta State particularly even as he revealed that on Wednesday 25, October 2017, his country and Delta would signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would pave the way and to further concretized the business “between our self and Delta State”.
According to the High Commissioner, his country was eager to hit the ground running, “we will do a number of other things, we will move on, we cannot wait and we want to hit the ground running.
However, three after that business venture which gave Deltans especially Sapele Indigenes hope of gaining employment has been dashed.
Meanwhile ,briefing journalists Tuesday 16th June 2020, the State Commissioner of Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, disclosed that the state government has appointed a Committee to assess the state of the Africa Timber and Plywood company to determine how the land it is occupying could be effectively utilized for other ventures.
Aniagwu added that the meeting “also examined the AT&P that occupies a vast area in Sapele and we are looking at how to auction some of the machinery and look at how to utilise that land to help more people to be employed.
Also, the State Executive Council (EXCO) approved the setting up of a modular refinery and commencement of work at an agro-industrial park in the state.
The decisions, which were reached at the Exco meeting was made known to newsmen in Asaba by the Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu.
Aniagwu, who was joined by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, also reaffirmed that the 2020 budget of the State was being reviewed in line with developments as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He assured Deltans that the state governor, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa and his team were working out programmes that would get them positively engaged and reduce the effects of the ravaging pandemic.
According to the commissioner, the state government would be partnering the private sector to train some youths on how to construct telecommunication towers.
“Due to Covid-19, what we had today was more of economic Exco meeting as it was basically on how to re-jig the economy of the State to get more of our people engaged now and after the Covid-19.
“Most of us are aware of the agro-industrial Park at Aboh-Ogwashi; Exco approved that government should explore that window provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Agriculture Loan to see that the industrial park which will be private sector-driven come on stream.
“The industrial park is big and you are aware that Norsworthy is among the companies that is investing and managing the park.
“Delta is known for its petrochemicals and Exco believes that it is high time we participated in that Sector. So, we are investing in a modular refinery to be established at Okpai, Ndokwa East Local Government Area.
“The modular refinery will generate revenue for the state and create job opportunities for our people,’’ he said.
“We also looked at a proposal by a company to produce tower for the telecom sector and the Exco approved investment in the tower production plant to be sited at Issele-Uku.
“All that I have mentioned as approved by Exco are value-driven projects that will be of benefitsto our people”.
The Commissioner also said that due to the fall in price of oil in the international market and the effects of Covid-19, the 2020 budget of the state had been reviewed and would be presented to the House of Assembly for approval.
He advised that people should take Covid-19 serious by going for medical checks once they had any symptom of the ailment.
Aniagwu observed that the number of Covid-19 cases was on the rise in the state and urged the people to take responsibility by obeying laid down health protocols.
“We don’t want to hear about mysterious deaths in our state; so, go for test so that we can get out of the curve; there is nothing to run away from, the government is committed to ensuring that the state is out of the spike and safe for everybody,” he said.