The African Development Bank (AfDB) has expressed readiness to provide technical and financial support to Ekiti State Government for the upgrade of critical infrastructure in the state.
Mr Yinka Oyebode, Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Kayode Fayemi, made this known in Ado Ekiti, on Sunday in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The projects include the Ado Ekiti-Akure road, Ekiti Cargo Airport, Ekiti Knowledge Zone, a smart city to promote knowledge economy, and the Agriculture Processing Zone.
The statement further said that all the projects were geared towards improving infrastructure and socio–economic development of the state.
It explained that the commitment was made during a high level meeting between the state government team, led by Gov. Fayemi and the AfDB President, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina at the organisation’s headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire at the weekend.
It said that the meeting was attended by other top officials of the AfDB, including its Senior Vice President, Charles Boamah; three Vice Presidents, one of whom was Celestine Monga, who doubles as the bank’s Chief Economist.
Other vice presidents present at the meeting were Vivienne Banke (Agriculture, Human and Social Development) and Ms Bajabulile Tshabalala (Finance and Chief Finance Officer) as well as Senior Director for Nigeria, Ebrima Faal, among others.
The officials reviewed the project proposals tabled by Fayemi and resolved to provide necessary support to the government to actualise them in line with the bank’s mission of supporting national and sub-national governments’ development plans.
As a follow up to the meeting, a team of technical experts from AfDB headquarters would be in Ekiti State in the next few weeks for further discussion and assessment of the affected projects, it said.
According to the statement, the visit and other activities that would follow, would prepare the ground for the bank’s final decision.
It quoted Fayemi as saying at the meeting that his administration decided to seek AfDB’s support for the projects that were crucial to the infrastructure and industrial development of the state.
The governor said that the move was aimed at improving the fortunes of the state and repositioning it as a destination of choice for investment.
He added that the state needed to upgrade its infrastructure and invest in agric business, so as provide jobs for its teeming youths, which he put at 75 percent of the state’s total population.
Fayemi told the bank officials that setting up a smart city to promote knowledge economy was also crucial to his administration’s development agenda.
“These are our local priorities. If you can support us, it will enable us to do some other things through our own limited resources.
“We have aligned our priorities to those of AfDB that apply to us, such as lighting up Africa; Feeding Africa; Industrialise Africa, etc
“All these apply to us as our plan is to make Ekiti a destination of choice for her citizens and all those who will like to live, work and invest in the state
“To achieve this, we need to invest heavily in infrastructure. We want to fix the roads, have our small cargo airport that will aid agriculture and open our landlocked state to domestic and international markets.
“This will ultimately lead to job creation which our state urgently needs for its vibrant and educated youth population.”
In his respone, the AfDB President was quoted as saying that the bank was excited about the state’s plan for job creation, especially for the youth and its move to improve the stock of infrastructure.
He said that the menace of kidnapping and banditry in the country would be arrested with more investments and job opportunities for the youth.
Adesina said that government must find a way of creating jobs for the teeming population of unemployed youths in order to secure the future of the country.
“Our job is to support and we have been supporting Nigeria. We are willing to support you”, the AfDB President added. (NAN)