By VICTOR NZE
Tourism, maritime, oil and gas industry experts in the country have called on the Lagos State government to evolve 10-year comprehensive economic masterplan for the Badagry and Epe divisions of the state.
This is also as the State Governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, has assured of his administration’s commitment towards the full adoption of the recommendations of the Badagry Economic Summit, in addition to pledging to complete the ongoing 10-lane Lagos-Badagry expressway before the end of 2019.
A 15-point communiqué issued at the just-concluded Badagry Economic Summit (BES) further stressed that an economic masterplan for the Badagry and Epe had become imperative in view of the huge and aggressive developmental projects embarked upon by the state government in both areas, like the deep sea port, free trade zones, and others.
The two-day maiden economic summit held between March 23 and 24 at the Conference Hall of the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), Topo, Badagry under the theme; ‘Unleashing Investment Potential around the Coastline Zone of Epe and Badagry.’
The event organized by the Badagry Convention and Visitors Bureau (BCVS) is the first strategic effort initiated by the private sector in conjunction with the Local Government Authorities to unveil the true and bankable potentials of Badagry and Epe ever since the creation of Lagos State 50 years ago.
“The summit advocates that for sustainable growth of Badagry and Epe economy in Tourism, Maritime, Oil and Gas therefore, there is need for Lagos State Government to develop a ten-year business development master plan for the two divisions.
“For a safe and peaceful communal integration of Badagry and Epe, there is urgent need for Government to increase the number of security personnel in the coastal zones to avoid a replica of the Niger Delta restiveness templates.
“That Badagry and Epe are viable economic hubs for the promotion and development of tourism, oil and gas and maritime economies.
Other recommendations of the summit include: “That there is urgent need for Government and the relevant stakeholders to institutionalize and establish vocational and skills empowerment schools to train youths of Badagry and Epe divisions to prepare and make them competitive in the labour market.
“That Lagos State Government should invest in strategic marketing and promotion of tourism potentials in Badagry and Epe in other to attract tourists and investors alike. Since water transportation is part of the intermodal transport system in Lagos, Lagos State Government should endeavour to build modern jetties and encourage public sector initiatives in boat building and construction to create jobs and drive water based tourism.
“That the Ministry of Science and Technology should partner with relevant organisations to impact on the use of ICT in Tourism, Oil and Gas among the youths of Badagry and Epe divisions.
“That Lagos State Government should liaise with traditional institutions to ensure cooperation on the use of land and sea to avoid restiveness.
“That Federal Government and Lagos State Government in particular should create enabling policies to ensure the immediate implementation of Badagry Sea Port blueprint to redirect traffic to Nigeria and Badagry Port in particular, in view of the thriving freight forwarding and maritime activities along neighbouring West Coast cities of Accra, Lome and Cotonou.
“That the Badagry Convention and Visitors Agency should stimulate the establishment of a local Chamber of Commerce in Badagry and Epe in conjunction with Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives.
Another highlight of the recommendations was the call on the Nigeria Custom ‘to improve their services and initiate business friendly strategies to make the Badagry Port when operational to be attractive to both local and international investors, importers and exporters.’
Earlier, state governor Ambode, had reiterated his administration’s resolve to completing the proposed 10-lane Badagry – Mile 2 expressway, saying it is geared towards positioning the region as a major tourism hub of West Africa.
Ambode who said this while declaring open the Summit said the project is also driven by his administration’s commitment to ensuring an all-inclusive government where all the component communities are fairly treated and given the opportunity to realise their economic potential.
The Governor, who was represented at the occasion by his Special Adviser on Community Affairs and Development, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, further explained that the expressway is to be complemented by the proposed deep sea project, which, according to him, aims to further grow capacity of the destination and people of Badagry.
“One of the cardinal policies of this administration remains the pursuit of an all-inclusive government. This policy drives the desire to complete the 10-lane Badagry expressway project so as to harness the already identified tourism and economic potential of the region. It also increases our resolve to realize the APM terminals project in the area.
“We want to assure that the outcome of this economic summit will form the content of a comprehensive economic masterplan for the people of Badagry and the destination.
“We are committed to exploiting these potentials and in the same way as we seek to position Badagry as the biggest business hub on the sub region and by extension the continent.”
While commending the Badagry Conventions and Visitors Bureau (BCVB) for its choice of theme for the summit, Ambode noted that the summit had remarkably assembled experts as well as the community members to articulate ideas and proposals to grow Badagry destination.
On his part, chief executive officer of BCVB, Mr Ashamu Fadipe, assured investors in Badagry of the town’s readiness to providing a veritable platform for them to grow their investment.
A total of 13 papers were presented by speakers along with attendees’ reactions and observations.
In attendance key Private Sector Players, Local Government Administrators, traditional Rulers, Lagos State Ministries of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Nigeria Custom Service (NCS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Navy, Air Force, State Security Services (SSS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
Also in attendance were the maritime industry players, travel & tourism journalists, ICT professional and business men/women, Flour Mills Plc., representatives and civil servants including some members of the defunct and current National Assembly.