Since his assumption, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA), Bamanga Usman Jada has been engaging with investors operating in the oil and free zones across the nation.

On Monday, 4th December 2023, he embarked on a 3-day working visit to Onne/Ikpokiri Oil and Gas Free Zone in Rivers State where he visited some of the facilities of the Free Zone Entreprises in order to ascertain the level of developments in the zone.

During a meeting with FZEs, it was disclosed that investment attracted into the Zone is over $20bn in terms of FDIs and employment generation of about 30,000 direct and indirect jobs.

In his remarks, Bamanga Jada lauded FZEs for their remarkable achievements and enormous contributions to Nigeria. He commended them for working in line with the mandate of the Free Zone which is primarily to attract Foreign Direct Investments into the country.

While encouraging investors to attract more investments, he buttressed the need to key into Renewable Energy in the oil and gas free zones as a result of the global energy transition. He stated that “Energy transition is an integral part of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”

Assuring them of the commitment of Mr. President to support businesses in Nigeria, he stated that the President’s ambitious economic agenda underscores that Mr. President is business friendly and is committed to providing an enabling business environment for potential investors as well as existing investors in Nigeria.

Jada also assured the FZEs of the unwavering support of the Honourable Minister of Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), Dr. Doris Azuka-Anite, while pledging the Authority’s commitment to give investors all the necessary support for their businesses to thrive in the free zones.

He also promised to ensure a better working synergy with sister agencies in order to address challenges confronting the smooth operation of investors in the zone.

Also speaking at the meeting, OGFZA’s Deputy General Manager Trade and Investment, Mallam Adamu Kontagora affirmed that the flagship free zone of the Authority, Onne/Ikpokiri Oil and Gas Free Zone is recorded to be the Most Successful Free Zone in Africa as a result of its success story and   milestone achievements which was consequent upon the attractive incentives the federal government offers to the investors operating in the free zone.

Therefore, the contributions of the Oil and Gas Free Zones to the nation’s economy and national development cannot be over emphasized.

OGFZA in collaboration with free zone operators have been engaged with enormous Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects for host communities, the state, as well as Nigeria.

The Authority in its efforts to foster mutual relationship and sustainable development, has adopted an approach known as the Joint Free Zones Community Relations Initiative (JFZCRI). The new approach reflects transparency, inclusivity and visibility for all in its relations with the host communities.

These projects include road construction in communities, drainage, ultra-modern markets, ICT Centres, schools, construction of Palace/Civic centre, Townhalls, jetty construction, power and electricity, sports, employment, provision of mobile clinics, skills and technology transfer and so on.

It is pertinent to note that the OGFZ in Onne operates a Women Empowerment Project Scheme Synergy (WEPSS), an initiative by INTELS Nigeria Limited, directed at empowering less privileged community women with tailoring skills.

Established in 2013, it provided entrepreneurship opportunities for 5000 rural women, thereby uplifting their economic status. The project commenced in a 5000sqm centre, where 300 women were selected among over 1000 applications from the various communities who were all retained in the manufacturing factory. After their training, within a three-year period, WEPSS manufactured over 5000 garments which were able to compete with international brands in terms of quality and price.

Since January 2016, more focus was placed on training, as production began to slow down due to the dwindling economy at the time, eventually shutting the branch down in 2017. Since then, WEPSS absorbs a minimum of 200 applicants annually. At the end of the program, 15% of the trainees who perform exceptionally well are awarded with start-up kits while the others are issued a certificate of attendance. The garments produced during the training period are given to charity.

In addition, the West Africa Container Terminal (WACT), Nigeria’s leading container terminal in Onne, organizes a number of programmes to train their employees. WACT whose staff strength has increased from 500 to 900 employees, annually sponsors some of its talented staff (including women) abroad to study in India and Egypt. They also bring in specialized professional trainers to train their staff. They award scholarships to students in the host communities and grant them internship in order to give them the opportunity to gain work experience after school.

Recently WACT awarded N30 million scholarship to 50 undergraduates drawn from host communities in Rivers State.

Lauding the Free Zone operators for the CSR schemes, the helmsman of OGFZA reiterated that “these schemes which are aimed at creating jobs, skill acquisition and technology transfer, are all in tandem with the President’s Renewed Hope Agenda of providing employment for millions of Nigerian youths annually. He reassured investors of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s commitment to support businesses in Nigeria as well as the support the Honourable Minister of FMITI, Dr. Doris Azuka-Anite.”

Jada said, “We have a government that is business friendly and a competent Minister that is committed to give all the necessary support to take the industry to greater heights”

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Author: Destiny Young
Destiny Young, a Senior IT Engineer, is an information technology professional with over 13 years of industry experience. A Computer Science graduate with a First Class MBA (Cybersecurity) from Nexford University, Washington DC. He holds a Master of Technology degree in Information Technology from the prestigious University of South Africa (UNISA) and currently a PhD Candidate in Information Systems with interest in Cybersecurity and Cloud technology. He is a member of the British Computer Society (BSC), the Chartered Institute of Administration of Nigeria (CIA). Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), etc.

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