Buhari urged to declare N/East tax-free zone to attract investors
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to declare the North East region a tax free zone for the next five years as an incentive to attract new investors and encourage existing ones.
The region, which is ravage by the Boko Haram insurgency for almost six years, has been suffering from youth unemployment, malnutrition, poverty and millions of displaced people.
Speaking at the signing of the N11 billion coal powered plant for Ashaka Cement Plc, chairman of the company, Malam Suleiman Yahyah, who made the call said at the moment Ashaka Cement Plc, is the only industrial business in the region of about 23 million people that has suffered insurgency.
He said: “We have limestone in abundance, we have water resources, we have agricultural resources and now we have discovered coal and several other resources are untapped. Mr Minister, I pray that you take this our prayers to the council at the next meeting and request Mr President that this will send a strong signal to investors.”
“Mr President can do this by an executive order since parliament is on recess. We need this action now because soon after we approved this project, it took us almost 10 months to come to this signing ceremony,” he added.
He said despite the challenges of the region, the management committed almost 85% of the company’s cash reserve, to provide power.
The Ashaka Cement chairman said if government came up with such incentives, “this would confirm that our decision will not be in vain and investors will come to that region.
“Also, Gombe State, one of the resource rich states in Nigeria will become the industrial hub for the North East employing large number of skilled and unskilled manpower championed company.”
Speaking on the importance of the project, Malam Yahyah said by 2018, when Ashaka would be celebrating its 40th anniversary, it would also be celebrating its independence from the national grid. “We will no longer be relying on Yola Disco for our energy requirements,” he said.
Following the contract signing, the contractor, RUNH Power Corp - a professional complete power equipment supplier and a power plant expert - is expected to mobilise to site for start-up activities in September to complete the project by end of Q1 2018. by Ashakacem