• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Investors demand removal of bottlenecks, clarity of govt’s direction

Investors demand removal of bottlenecks, clarity of govt’s direction

…Mayor of Housing says Fubara has shown determination

Investors seem united in their demand for clarity of government direction for the economy and serious evidence of removal of bottle necks in business environment.

The Mayor of Housing, My-ACE China, has rated Governor Sim Fubara as determined to restart the economy of the state.

Most experts and investors and speakers in the two days that the summit lasted harped on the need for the government to make clear what it wants by making its policies and blueprint very clear for investors to follow.

They also demanded for serious “debottlenecking,” saying excessive bureaucracy has hampered most subnational economies.

China, who is the CEO of the Housing and Construction Mayor Limited, who is pursuing what would be the biggest housing estate in the region (Alesa Highlands), called for appointment of tested and non-political technocrats to head the new agencies mooted at the summit such as the Rivers State Investment Promotion Agency the governor just announced.

Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, the Mayor of Housing said investors were asking two things; the power of execution by the principal leaders of the state, which is the governor; action on Ease of Doing Business. “In this term, we find that when the principal political actors appoint people of politics to economic positions, they might not have the capacity to make things easy for investors.

“So, we call for key positions to be manned by hard-nosed technocrats who have no political biases and exposures. Ministries such as for trade, marine economy, blue economy, these should go only to seasoned technocrats from Rivers State. These determine the economy. Look for non-political figures. They are required to deliver value. We investors can feel free to go to them for ease of the business.”

He warned Rivers State about hedging all along, saying what is happening in Nigeria now is that different states are wooing investors to come over.

“So, there is competition. Recently, we learnt that Landmark Beach that was lamenting in Lagos has been contacted by Akwa Ibom State government for discussions. If they give him incentives, there will be no Landmark Beach in Lagos but in Akwa Ibom.”

The Mayor of Housing said he has submitted himself as a guinea pig for the state government to show its readiness for “debottlenecking.”

“We have been on ground; we’ve been doing business with the difficulty of doing business. We are now submitting ourselves to the Rivers State government as the guinea pig that will announce to the world when doing business becomes easy, when policies become clear, when the policies are working. So, we are submitting g ourselves as a template the success or failure of whatever will be discussed in this summit.

On the importance of debottlenecking, he said: “For instance, when the former federal administration of Olusegun Obasanjo wanted to succeed in drugs, they put somebody that was non-political in the person of the late Dora Akunyili to head that agency. It was to make sure that political and bureaucratic bottlenecks were removed.

“First of all, the government has to be very mindful of the individuals that will handle whatever agency that will be placed with the responsibility of the resolutions that will come out of this summit. This is because having a clear vision, having clear agenda and clear intentions is one thing but having individuals with the competence, character, and resistance to bribery and other inducement to be able to birth that vision and agenda in practical implication is more important than having those agencies.

This is because you might have agencies for those visions and those agenda, if they are the same political agencies filled with the same bureaucratic bottlenecks of Nigerian agency, you will find that the difficulty of passing through those agencies to get your business through is back to the same old business of difficulty of doing business and the government intention might not get to the real business practitioners.”

He expressed optimism, saying he saw a better River State. “This is because I tell people I’m not a politician, I’m probably Nigeria’s first or only valuetician. This is because I only get myself involved in valuetics and not politics. And, one of the things I’ve seen that I am very optimistic about, the post summit era is that, before the summit, the Rivers State governor had every excuse in the world not to have performed or done anything because of the political crisis going on in the state. Instead, he showed he could deliver at least tangible results within that crisis period and that’s how you can test intention of any man.

“As Martin Luther King said, the truth of a man is not where you stand in terms of peace but in the times of crisis. So, where he has stood before now has built a lot of confidence in those of us that are doing business in Rivers State. We now say that now with this clear agenda and with the vision that will come out after this summit, we are sure that when he was running or walking in the midst of crisis, when the crisis is over and the vision is clearer, we believe we will not only fly but help those of us that are willing to fly to fly with him.

He described the numerous pronouncements of the governor to boost the economy as exciting.

On his own contribution to the economy of the state, he announced that he was bringing a sustainable city development to Port Harcourt in the Eleme axis. “It is at the preliminary stage but people are calling it the new banana island. We are hoping to have audience with the governor very soon so that we can streamline the details of this housing estate, but believe me, it will have some of the first of its kind facilities and infrastructure in Nigeria in that place. It will be eco-friendly. It will be cost-friendly even though it will be a luxury estate for the high-end earners. It will be running pari-passu and would balance out the 20,000 low-cost housing by this same Fubara administration and it is going on toward the Ikwerre area.”

The Mayor of Housing said all that is now needed after political will free access to the powers that take the decision for the implementation of this policy. “Rivers State is not only willing to emerge, I’ve been doing business here for a couple of years, Rivers’ people are yearning to emerge.

“Business people in Rivers State want to help the state emerge but sometimes when there are political and bureaucratic bottlenecks between your intentions and the reality, even what the policy has said you can do, you find you can’t do it anymore. You find that when you get to the actual doing, there will appear what I call gates and fences. It becomes that no business man is willing to expend resources and energy to pursue unending processes when the same resources and energy can make him profit somewhere else.”

He also mentioned his major takeaways, saying the submissions of the professor, Kingsley Moghalu, at the summit on need to break down all barriers to ease of doing business and the need to make host communities equity holders in businesses in their land. He said he was already practicing the suggestion in the Alesa project where he had already given the community 10% equity despite corporate social responsibility package to them. He said this must have made his company to win award ahead of starting work.

“So, in addition with these two takeaways, the final thing I got from today is that I heard the governor promising us investors the ease of doing business and why doling out the industries, he mentioned the housing and the real estate sector. That gives me full confidence that all our pending approvals soliciting before the government will be approved within the next one or two weeks or I will produce video evidence and remind the government where they made that promise of no more barriers.”

He said for the governor to sit down and use his precious time to hear the investors out, it showed that everything discussed, he has the intention and commitment to execute it. “With what I have seen today, I say to investors out there to please watch out for Rivers State. The governor has shown a willingness to execute what was agreed here. I think we can bet on him and test the weather.”

Blue economy and real estate

The real estate success strategist said the apparent interest shown by the state government in the blue economy would create a boom for the sector. He said one of the limiting factors in real estate is access roads and other infrastructure. “You heard about the person who took the waterways and arrived Lagos in 15 minutes instead of three hours. That is what can happen when infrastructure is developed around waters. Properties across waterways will greatly appreciate. The infrastructure around waterways will boost in value and investors will play around it.

“Dubai is even creating artificial waterways to make properties more valuable. Properties in the beaches are far more valuable than those in the hinterland.

“So, well organised and well harnessed waterways will expose the value of property around them.

“What I am saying is that lands locked for years in the waters will now become very valuable and very useful. Some people will pay anything for houses in beaches. Children like rollercoaster while adults go for boat ride. I will rather pay 10 times to have my house in the beach.”

China maintained that his support for the success of the summit was because of his hunger for viability of any state where he lives and does his real estate business. On what is in it for him for all this massive support to the summit, he said: “I am the Mayor of Housing, not the mayor of empty houses. If you build in a location not attractive to migrants, you will end up with empty houses. Part of the passion I have in housing in Rivers State is to reduce the Rivers–Lagos dichotomy especially in estates. We have a lot of expatriates and big shots working in Port Harcourt but living elsewhere especially in Lagos. We want to attract people to live in Port Harcourt and do business.

“Land is no longer in production. It is a finite product. If more people come to Rivers State, it will make my business more viable because first impact would be land to build houses. If people do not come, it’s not good for me.”