Despite the perceived bad blood created by the takeover of lands from its earlier owners by the Lagos State Government to actualise the plans of establishing the Lekki Free Trade Zone, about 75 percent of residents in the Lekki area said they are optimistic about the positive economic outcomes of the zone.
According to a survey conducted by VIISAUS, targeting residents in the communities surrounding the zone, especially those whose land was expropriated by the state government, 65 percent of community members held a remarkably positive perception of the free trade zone.
The survey explained that the people’s perception indicated a low level of opposition, despite the land expropriation and seemingly dissatisfactory compensation process.
“Surprisingly, the results of the survey aimed at gauging the potential threats to the LFZ’s growth revealed a widespread sense of optimism and strong confidence in the establishment of the zone due to its anticipated positive impact on community growth,” the survey said.
The survey further said the establishment of the LFZ has not been without challenges as the previous landowners have raised concerns about the acquisition of their land by the state government between 2005 and 2006.
“Some feel that they were inadequately compensated for their properties. Reports of compensation provided by the Lagos State Government exist, but a 2018 survey highlighted instances of cash payments and proxy involvement, which opened avenues for alleged diversion, and fraud. This situation raises the possibility of potential opposition or rebellion from former landowners against the success of the LFZ,” the survey claimed.
Recall that in 2005, the Lagos State Government identified the Lekki area, situated 60 kilometers east of central Lagos, for the development of a free trade zone. The LFZ spans an impressive 16,500 hectares and was officially launched in 2006 through a tripartite agreement between China-Africa Lekki Investment Ltd., Lagos State Government, and Lekki Worldwide Investments Ltd.
Recognising its potential, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce approved LFZ as one of the ‘Overseas Economic & Trade Cooperation Zones’ in November 2007.
The joint venture between the Lagos State Government and a Chinese consortium resulted in the establishment of the Lekki Free Zone Development Company (LFZDC).
The LFZDC oversees various projects within the Free Trade Zone, including the construction of the Lekki deep seaport, managed by the Lekki Deep Seaport Enterprise Ltd (LPLEL).
To finance the port project, LPLEL secured a loan of $629 million from the China Development Bank (CDB) and the port has started commercial operations.
The LFZ aims to become a manufacturing, logistics, and energy hub, offering a wide range of opportunities for businesses and investors. With its strategic location and comprehensive infrastructure, it has the potential to transform Nigeria’s economy.