By Christopher Tom, Uyo
Deputy Senate President senator Ovie Omo-Agege has urged the South South geo political zone to unite for sustainable business plans that will facilitate economic growth in the region.
Speaking in Uyo on Thursday during the Investiture of Akparawa Dr. Okon Emmah as the President of Forum of South South Chambers of Commerce ,Mines and Agriculture ( FOSSCCIM) , senator Ovie charged South South region to change the poverty status through business opportunities available in the area.
“Today, of the estimated population of over 200 million people in Nigeria, a significant segment of the population is living in poverty. According to the World Poverty Clock which provides real-time estimates through 2030 in nearly every country in the world, the number of extremely poor Nigerians could be as high as 125 million in the year 2030 if we do nothing.”
He reiterated president Mohammedu Buhari’s commitment to poverty alleviation beyond 2023 and urged the people of South South to rise to business opportunities beyond oil found in their backyard.
Senator Omo- Agege who was represented by Special Assistant on Special Duties Mr Godwin Anaughe commended the theme of the Investiture / Annual General meeting as “Economic Integration of South-South- a panacea for Economic Growth” saying such discourse will examine past business exploits and way forward for the region.
“For the South-South region, the need for economic growth calls for economic integration that would help set the entire region on a more prosperous growth path. I wish to make it very clear, however, that the economic integration of the South-South is not a short term answer to the current socio-economic problems of the region. Rather, it is the long-term answer to the question of South-South economic growth, diversification, competitiveness, enterprise and jobs.”
Senator Omo- Agege recalled that South South governors have initiated such moves in the past and enjoined the Chamber of Commerce members to continue for economic emancipation of the region.
.”Over a decade ago, the governors of the region floated the same idea and sought to forge closer economic cooperation and integration among the six states of the South-South geo-political zone namely Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Cross-River, Edo and Delta (BRACED).”
“The BRACED states sought to deepen their collaboration in the areas of education, human capacity development, information and communication technology, infrastructure development, agriculture and investment.”
He regretted that such bold step to diversify economy of the region failed as the commission for the purpose became ineffective in their operations.
“Regrettably however, this bold attempt at regional economic integration aimed at pooling of resources together, stimulating production, trade and investment which would have alleviated poverty failed as the BRACED Commission established to drive the process remained ineffective.”
He observed that the new leadership of Chamber of Commerce in the region can make a difference in terms of diversifying economy in Agriculture, Tourism and manufacturing sectors.