Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Thursday assured the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) of the State's collaboration with the federal agency to create a platform for businesses to thrive in Nigeria. Speaking when the newly appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba and his team paid him a courtesy visit at the Lagos House Marina on Thursday, Governor Sanwo-Olu said free zone as a catalyst for exports and development can bring about real growth of the economy as non-oil export if well utilised. He said: “What you see around the world is that many countries have been able to turn their free trade zones into a catalyst for export and development. It is only when those kinds of things happen that you can see the real growth of the economy, attract foreign direct investments and create a very competitive environment.
“Lekki Free Trade zone is the biggest in the country and for us it has come into reality. We are indeed happy in term of investment that is coming there and those that still want to come there; from port to refinery, chemical plants and other large industries that are coming up. We are indeed happy that we have a chairman that is very versatile in investment banking and financial transactions. “We are going to partner with Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority to build a good platform for foreign businesses and international direct foreign access to come to this environment and the country and our people would be the direct beneficiaries of those investments. We can see real growth happening in our economy and we can open up the economy bigger and better than where we met it.” Stressing the need for collaboration between the Lagos State Government and the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the federal agency is a critical intervention agency that can take the country forward. He said: “I think it will be a big shame for all of us in our own time if we cannot double or triple what we met on the ground. We need to improve on what we met and take it bigger and higher. We need to have a zone that is alive that people can see real genuine opportunities and will not constitute a problem to the wheel of progress.
“Lagos is indeed ready to collaborate with Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority to create a platform where businesses can thrive in the country because it is a critical authority and an intervention agency that can take this country forward. Indeed, if we use it very well. It can be part of other means for our development. We need to build enterprise and look beyond oil. We need to look for other non-oil export and the free zone can give us all that opportunity.” Speaking earlier, Prof. Adesugba said the NEPZA has a presence in Lagos State, noting that 14 out of 42 free zones in the country are in the State, adding that the zones if properly put to use can provide 15,000 jobs in the State. He said the courtesy visit was necessary for him to come and introduce himself to Governor Sanwo-Olu and to inform him about the challenges and issues relating to NEPZA in Lagos State. “We need to work together to get it right. Free zones concept should be supported by government. We are very positive that the collaboration between the agency and Lagos State Government will be helpful to the State and Nigeria as a whole,” he said. Among those present at the event were; Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo; his Commerce counterpart, Mrs. Lola Akande; Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce, Mr. Oladele Ajayi; Solicitor-General of the State and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Ms. Titilayo Shitabey; Chairman, Lekki Worldwide Investment Ltd, Mr. Biodun Dabiri; Managing Director, Lekki Worldwide Investment. Ltd., Dr. Tunde Sodade and the Company Secretary, Mr. Biodun Oluwa. Others are General Manager, NEPZA, Muazu Mohammed Ruma; Chairman, Nigeria Private Sector Alliance (NIPSA), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN) and the Technical Adviser to the MD/CEO of NEPZA, Mr. Adewale Folowosele.