The new management of Ogun Free Trade Zone, Igbesa, has dispelled insinuations that the multi-million dollars investment at the zone is at risk following the takeover by a new team of Chinese managers. They stated that, “not only are the current investors not leaving the Zone, the new management under the New South Group are already in the process of attracting more investments to the Zone.”
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos on Wednesday, Chairman of China-Africa Investment Ltd, the new owners of the controlling shares,Mr Chen Yuejin said recent claims by former managers that investors were threatening to leave the Zone are untrue and unfortunate. Yuejin was joined at the briefing by other investors: Mr Gao Jian Zhong, Mr Abbey Onas and Mr Jiang Qingqing.
Mr Qianmy Dalu, a former Administrative Manager of the Zone recently alleged that Zhongfu International Investment Nigeria who were former managers of the Zone was forcefully ejected by federal and Ogun governments officials to pave way for the new management.
Speaking yesterday, the new foreign investors, New South Group stated that the claim by the former managers was to discourage several foreign investors who have indicated interest in bringing investments to the Zone under the new management.
“We know that these disparaging remarks are, primarily, designed to achieve the unsavoury measure of discouraging potential investors from investing in the Zone by creating a siege mentality within the Zone as to cause an investment flight away from the Zone”, Mr Yuejin stated.
According to him, “It is also very important to state that, contrary to the falsehood in Zhongfu’s press conference (addressed by one Mr Qianmy Dalu), Zhongfu did not make any investment in the Zone. The physical structures erected therein and the amenities therein were put in place by China Africa. On the contrary, Zhongfu depleted the assets and infrastructure they met on ground and up till date, are yet to account for all revenues made during the period of management.. It is therefore no surprise that Zhongfu was only able to express its investment in vague terms in the press conference.
“Since the termination of Zhongfu’s management of the Zone, the existing investors registered several complaints on the inability of Zhongfu to address the needs of the investors within the Zone. In the same vein, due to the fact that most of the investors within the Zone are aware of the managerial pedigree of the New South Group, they have expressed their support for the new management and readiness to work with the new management under New South Group.
“It is also worthy to note that the Government of Guangdong Province in Peoples Republic of China is also looking into the activities of Zhongfu within the Zone and in its interface with Ogun State Government with a view to prosecution in accordance with the applicable Chinese law.
“Please note that Guangdong Province still owns 49% equity in China Africa. Both Guangdong New South Group and the Guangdong Province have the capacity to further develop the Zone to match standard of the most notable Free Trade Zones in the World. We are committed to the course and have already put this into means adapted to its fulfillment. We have a clear plan of achieving this and have the support of our home Government (the Government of the Peoples Republic of China) and the Ogun State Government. There is absolutely no cause for alarm but just the ranting of a sinking ship.”
Justifying the change of management at the Zone, Secretary to Ogun State Government, Barrister Taiwo Adeoluwa said: “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’s friendly state, we want investors. The best person to resolve the problem is the consulate that sent the letter to us.”