A major leap into actualizing the dream of establishing a seaport in Ondo State has been taken as the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, received the Outline Business Case (OBC), which is one of the critical requirements preceding port declaration and showcases the project as a multipurpose deep seaport.
At the occasion in Akure, Governor Akeredolu expressed satisfaction with the level of cooperation by his administration at establishing Port Ondo, saying that the confidence of the consulting firm on the viability of the project is a pointer to its eventual success.
The governor said the avalanche of resources the state is blessed with, within its riverine communities coupled with the fact that the state has the longest coastline in Nigeria would make the proposed port the hub for the West Africa sub-region.
“This port is very important to me, to the people of the state, Nigeria and indeed West Africa. We are going to pursue this dream with vigour,” he said.
Describing lack of continuity and abandonment of projects by successive administrations as the greatest problem retarding the development of most states in Nigeria, Governor Akeredolu said if the vision of the Olusegun Agagu administration on establishing a seaport for Ondo State had been kept alive by the immediate past administration, Ondo State would by now become a critical player in the maritime sector.
Earlier, the Head of the consulting firm, OIM-FBS Consortium, Ekong Etim, said the OBC is essentially a confirmation of the governor’s vision that the port is a productive business worthy of venturing into by both public and private concerns.
“We are happy that our report confirms that the governor’s vision is viable. Its viability has been carefully assessed technically, legally, financially, and economically,” the consultant said.
Etim said the OBC has been submitted to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for onward processing through the Federal Ministry of Transportation and will subsequently receive the attention of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) for the issuance of certificate of compliance, adding that at the procurement stage, which is the final, prospective investors would be invited to form a consortium to finance the project.
Also speaking, Special Adviser to the Governor on Development and Investment/Chief Executive Officer, Ondo State Development and Investment Promotion Agency (ONDIPA), Boye Oyewumi , said, “In two years, we have been to places where people have not been in 14 to 16 years, that is no mean feat. Commitment starts from political will and the determination that whatever happens, this project must come to fruition. So we thank the Governor for being actively involved in the project.”
Oyewumi, who described the project as an investment magnet, assured that given the location, it would enjoy the interest of international investors.
“The construction of the port is off the state’s balance sheet. That means it will not be funded from the coffers of the state. Private investors would develop the port. When you have the magnet, metals are attracted to it. Investors, without even having a road show before we got to this stage, have been coming to us that they want to invest in the port.
“Two years ago, Dubai Port signed an MoU with us that they wanted to build the port. They did that based on the port’s feasibility, which is different from the OBC. We also have a lot of Chinese, South African and French companies which have shown interest,” he said.