Rivers State stands apart in Nigeria in being able to provide an existing infrastructural foundation for the growth of investment. It has immense oil and gas reserves beneath its soil and off its coast. It boasts of two oil refineries, a petrochemical plant, a fertiliser plant, an Oil and Gas Free Zone Port complex, and the only liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria. In addition, the state government has developed programmes that have ensured a constant supply of educated and skilled labour from among its indigenous population. The industrial and service infrastructure has been overhauled extensively since Dr Peter Odili became governor in 1999, especially in the energy supply sector.
The state is completing a domestic power grid that is second to none in Nigeria and which is poised to make it the first state in the nation to boast a steady and constant electricity supply reaching even the most remote rural communities.
More than 280,000 hectares of fertile virgin land is available for cultivation, and its vibrant history as well as its natural beauty and rich biodiversity can support the development of a profitable tourist industry. The state capital, Port Harcourt, is the acknowledged commercial and administrative centre of the oil-bearing region and is second only to Lagos in the cosmopolitan nature of its populace.
With these assets as the basis for attracting investors, the state needs leadership that is dynamic and innovative in order to fulfil its true potential as the powerhouse of the national economy. In the Odili government it has found the authority and the vision it needs.
The government has taken advantage of the climate of economic liberalisation to boost its economic base by encouraging private investment. Dr Odili is not only one of the most loyal supporters of the Federal Government's liberalisation policy, but he is also a governor who has been able to ensure that his state benefits from this loyalty.
While the overall investment climate in Nigeria is improving with a steady decline in interest rates, a national currency that has remained relatively stable, improved foreign reserves and an active privatisation policy, some states have failed to take advantage of this to boost their local economies.
This has not been the case in the Rivers State where the economic policies of the Federal Government have been translated into a stable investment environment. The target sectors for investment are vast. The agricultural and...