Written by Scholastica JOSEPH

Benue loses $500mn investment to insecurity - Ortom

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has disclosed that the state has lost a whopping $500 million investment as a result of security challenges.

Governor Ortom stated this in Makurdi, last week, while declaring open the North Central African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, sensitization and consultation in the six geo-political zones.

Ortom stated that two different Chinese companies have reneged on their agreement to establish companies in the state as a result of the insecurity in the state perpetrated by the Fulani herdsmen as a result of the ECOWAS Protocol that was signed ages back.

He pointed out that one of the companies was to invest $100 Million in sugar company while the other was to invest $400 Million of which all of them secured all the papers that they needed to venture into the business but they abandoned it because of insecurity in the state.

The governor lamented that the protocol gave Africans the privilege to move about within the continent unhindered and that gave the Fulani herdsmen from other countries the impetus to troop to Nigeria even without the required ECOWAS approved as well as valid documents.

Ortom also noted that the signing of ECOWAS Protocol and the porous nature of the Nigeria borders has remained a major impediment to industrialization of Benue and Nigeria at large.

"Let us not be in a hurry to append our signature on the agreement rather let us look at it holistically and see if it will benefit Nigerians or not", he said.

The governor who acknowledged the advantages of a free trade area said from experience, the agreement will kill the already ailing local industries leading to influx of all manner of finish goods into the country.

He lamented that the harsh economic conditions; low exchange rate, epileptic power supply, poor transportation system as well as insecurity have already made the local companies less competitive, regretting that as a result of the above scenario, about 85 per cent of finished goods found in Africa are from other continents, hence the need to apply caution.

The Chief Trade Negotiator and Director General of Nigeria Office for Trade Negotiations, NOTN, Amb. Chiedu Osakwe, said countries that are open to trade grow faster and generate more jobs than countries that are closed up.

He encouraged participants to contribute meaningfully to the discussions so that both the advantages and disadvantages of the treaty will be made bare to enable the federal government decide whether to sign it or not.



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