Atleast 5,000 Nigerians working at the Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone (OGFTZ) may lose their jobs if 12 foreign companies operating there carries out their threats to pull out.
Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone is a modern industry zone which is in Igbesa of Ogun State,it covers an area of 100 square kilometers and will be developed in three phases. The project as planned for phase 1 of the project covers 20 square kilometers and the startup area for phase 1 will be 2.5 square kilometers.
Before this controversy, Zhongfu International Investment(NIG)FZE (hereinafter referred to Zone Management Company) is responsible for the development,management and operation of the project while Ogun State Government will provide land and facilities accordingly.
The zone enjoys ideal geographic Location, 103km distant from Abeokuta, the capital of the State, driving time about 1 hour 40 minutes, and the zone is 30km distant from Apapa harbor in Lagos, 30km distant from the Lagos Murtala Mohammed international airport, 20km distant from the new planed harbor in the Ogun state.
Gruise with Ogun State Government
The Administration Manager, Mr. Dalu further said his group was reconsidering its investment in the zone following the forceful ejection of main investor, Zhongfu International Investment Nigeria Limited.
He accused one Abbey Onosanya and Wilfred Odega, a representative of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority attached to the Zone of effecting the ejection of Zhongfu.
He also claimed that some officials of the state government invited some foreign investors called China Africa investment, with a new name of New South Group, to take over the zone, after Zhongfu International had invested massively.
“Since then the zone has been thrown into confusion as all business activities in the zone have been grounded to a halt, thereby threatening the jobs of more than 5000 Nigerians still working in the various companies in the zone,” Mr. Dalu said.
He further explained that, ZhongI u fu International was one of the tenants in the zone, which, in 2012, signed a contract agreement with the state government to manage the zone for three months, after which the contract was renewed for another three months.
He recalled that the company only secured a permanent contract with the state government after it said it could not keep developing the zone and attracting investors under a temporary arrangement.
The administrative manager said it was after that a joint venture agreement was signed on September 28, 2013, between Zhongfu International Investment, Zenith Global Merchant and the state government for a better business partnership, with Zhongfu possessing 60 per cent stake of the zone while Zenith Global Merchant and the state government shared the remaining 40 per cent.
“Zhongfu is disappointed to see that the Ogun State Government, with the cooperation of NEPZA administrator at the zone plotted to install New South Group, to manage the zone, after about $60 million has been invested into the zone by Zhongfu International Investment,” he said.
“For several years, Zhongfu has worked tirelessly to promote the interest of the zone and invited long term investments into the free zone. The company has also brought international recognition to the state and Nigeria in general,” he added.
Speaking further, he said a lot of efforts had been made to resolve the matter amicably with the parties involved.
“Zhongfu and its advisers have respectfully invited dialogue with Ogun State government and followed due process in an attempt to resolve the issue. So far, those efforts have yielded no result,” Mr. Dalu said.
“Zhongfu International Investment therefore appeals to Governor Ibikunle Amosu to set a committee to investigate the matter for the sake of the investors, looking at the joint venture agreement with a view to finding who actually is in breach of the agreement,” he said.
Ogun Government washes hand off controversy
In reaction , the Secretary to Ogun State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, said government has no issues with the company(s) but was only reacting to the position of the Chinese government over the deal which requested that the main investor be replaced.
“As a government, we don’t have problem with anybody, it was what the Peoples Republic of China sent to us that we are acting on. We want the zone to grow; we cannot disregard the diplomatic letter they sent to us in March 11, 2016. We are people friendly state, we want investors. The best person to resolve the problem is the consulate that sent the letter to us,” Mr. Adeoluwa said.