By Carol Utulu
The Delta Government has signed a $20 million Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Norsworthy Investment, a private firm, for the cultivation of 3,000 acres of oil palm and processing plant project.
The project which would be sited at Akwukwu-Igbo in Oshimili North Local Government Area of the state, was signed in Asaba on Thursday by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Festus Agas.
Agas reiterated the commitment of the state government to provide the needed support for investment towards developing every sector of the state economy.
“Upon the inception of this present administration in the state, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, expressed his commitment to create an enabling environment for investement to thrive.
“The governor is committed to creating jobs and as such ensure a massive investment drive to grow our economy.”
He pointed out that Okowa’s administration placed priority on agriculture, saying that agriculture remains the mainstay of the state economy.
He lauded the management of Norsworthy Investment for its interest in developing the state, assuring the firm that the state government would provide every necessary support to make the project a success.
“In my opinion, I think this is most strategic MoU we have signed with a private firm so far.
“I want to say here that it is a laudable move that will not only create jobs, but also bring development to the area.”
Agas called on other investors both local and foreign to emulate Norsworthy and take advantage of the enabling investment environment in the state to help grow the state economy.
Also, the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Mr Kingsley Emu, said the signing of the agreement marked the high point of a business plan hatched over eight months ago by both parties.
According to him, what we are witnessing today is the high point of a meeting held about eight months ago between the state government and Norsworthy Limited.
“Sometime ago, the company approached the Delta state government requesting for three thousand acres of land to enable them grow oil palm plantation for agricultural value chain development.
Emu said following the request, the state government approached the people of Akwukwu-Igbo community and the community volunteered to provide the needed land.
According to Emu, the people of Akwukwu-Igbo, led by their monarch, Chief Obi David Azuka, have provided the three thousand acres of land, which have been inspected and ready for the take of the project.
The commissioner said that the land provided was highly productive considering its richness in agricultural production, and expressed the hope that the investment would be of mutual benefit to the state and the company.
“It is our believe that this strategic move by Norsworthy will open up the area and create jobs for our people,” Emu said.
Earlier, the Chairman of Norsworthy Investment Limited, Dr Gabriel Ogbechie, expressed the determination of the company to contribute its quota in the development of Delta.
Ogbechie said: “We are very passionate when it comes to investment, not only in Delta but elsewhere because investment brings development to the people and grows the economy of its area of operation.
“I want to commend Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa for his vision and commitment to bring development to the state, and we are ready to bring our own contribution to growing the Delta economy.”
Ogbechie, who is also the chairman of Rainoil Nigeria Limited, a leading player in the nation’s petroleum industry, said Nigeria was blessed with veritable
agricultural land that should be utilised to improve the fortunes of the nation.
He said with the signing of the MoU, the company would be moving to site as early as possible to commence clearing work so that the project could start in the shortest possible time.
“As a company, we are going to inject an initial 20 million dollars into the project to take off, and as we move on, more funds will be inject to expand and grow the investment.
“Also, I see this project creating over five thousand jobs for our people. I can assure the people of this state that this project is going to improve the economy of Delta state,” Ogbechie said.(NAN)