Not less than N35,787,971,938.58 and $226,506,151.50 investments have been attracted into the Nigerian economy through the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ), THISDAY has learnt.
The disclosure was made by the Managing Director of Lagos Deep Shore Logistics Base (LADOL), Dr. Amy Jadesimi, in a presentation she delivered in Lagos when the outgoing Managing Director of the Nigerian Exports Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Dr. Adeshina Agboluaje, made a valedictory tour of LFZ.
The operational base of LADOL, which is the operator of LFZ, is situated in the estuary of Atlantic Ocean, Apapa, Lagos.
Jadesimi disclosed that on revenue payments to the national treasury, the Federal Government has so far earned over N12 billion and $22.404 million through LADOL.
She also disclosed that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had collected about N3, 539,963,480.95 and $22,404,832.16 as revenue from operations at the base, just as payments to NEPZA had stood at N94,800,000.1 and $600,000. This is even as the zone had similarly attracted investment amounting to N791,139,240.51, and $125,000,000.
Over the years, Jadesimi pointed out that the LFZ had created over 500 new jobs, with a multiplier effect of about 5,000 indirect jobs through yards and sundry specialised works at LADOL.
Urging government to continue to encourage indigenous participation in the nation's offshore sector in particular, she pointed out that failure to do this will result in Nigeria losing investment to its neighbours.
"Several countries are investing heavily and are strategically well-placed to attract investments away from Nigeria", she warned.
She however raised a ray of hope, saying "so far, West and Central Africa is still characterised by a multiple of small facilities, none of which are able to service the entire region. Nigeria can still be the hub of support for West Africa if we have the right environment and attract companies to invest here again".
She commended Agboluaje for strides he made while he was in the saddle, even as he described him as someone "synonymous with free zone operations" in Nigeria.
In his response, Agboluaje described the establishment of free zones as the nucleus of the nation's economy, even as he expressed delight that the promoters of LFZ had taken the risk in investing so much, both in local and foreign currencies, thereby paving the way for others to follow in view of the successes so far recorded.
He stated that every free zone has its peculiarity just as they play individual roles in the economic development of countries.
Agboluaje, who is retiring after nearly a decade in the saddle, argued that for Nigeria to be globally competitive, there must be sustained efforts on the part of government as well as operators in harnessing the potentials.
"Free zones sell ideas. What you call yourself is what they call you in free zone operations. There are no two free zones in the world that are the same. Every free zone has its own peculiarity. The FZ sells an idea. It is actually the direction to go for Nigeria to take a leap. I have played a role in free zones operations in the country in the past ten years. LADOL is one of them.
"I am grateful to the current government under the leadership of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan for doing everything possible to encourage these establishments. This is the future, and the future lies with free zones operation both in the areas of manufacturing for export and in jobs creation. I will remain committed to the ideals even after exiting", he said.