…as governor commissions 11,400ha plantation
Chairman of Okomu Oil Company Plc., Gbenga Oyebode SAN, has pledged that the company is committed to creating not less than 40,000 jobs with expansion of the company’s operations into 10 communities in the state, representing 20 per cent of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s 200,000 jobs creation target in Edo State.
Oyebode said this at the commissioning of the Okomu Extension 2 Plantation in Ovia North East Local Government Area, which was witnessed by captains of industries, Benin high chiefs and members of the companies’ host community.
He said that the Edo State government’s support has been tremendous, noting, “We expect to plant the whole 11,400 hectares by next year. Then in 2020, we will start milling. For us, the state government has been phenomenal. It shows that the state government is not just in full support of agribusiness but of commercial enterprise.”
On his company’s support for Obasek’s job creation drive, he said, “We expect to contribute to the governor’s job creation drive and we have already started. Right now, we are at 2,000. Our expectation is that before we get to 2020, we would have created 4,000 jobs. There is a multiplier effect, however. Of that 4,000 we are looking at, we are going to have 40,000 new jobs that will be directly linked to this company.”
The jobs include those to be generated from the activities of contractors, out-growers, suppliers, maintenance and security services, and other agro-allied activities needed for the proper running of the plantation.
Commissioning the new estate, the governor said that Edo State is working towards attaining the status of an economic hub with the expansion project, and that raw materials from the plant will be deployed to factories at the Benin Industrial Park when it commences operation.
He commended the Federal Government for taking the right decision in 1976 to open up the space for private investment in oil palm sector in Nigeria, noting “since the move, Okomu Plc has been standing tall. We are made to understand that the yield per ton on the farm is highest in Nigeria.”
He said he was impressed with the speed of development at the plantation, noting that it was a landmark achievement to have cultivated 9,000 hectares of oil palm in a year.
He assured that he would continue to support the company as long as they continue to expand in the state, “They were able to prepare and cultivate 9,000 hectares of land in one year. Can you imagine if we had more companies expanding at this pace; the amount of jobs and economic activity that they will create. I think this is a feat and it is amazing.”
He assured that he was going to work with the governments of oil palm producing states in Nigeria, such as Ondo and Cross River states, to move for the establishment of an oil palm council in Nigeria.
He also said that the Edo State government is intent on creating a master plan for agricultural development in the state.
Managing Director, Okomu Plc, Graham Hefer, said that the company is committed to contributing to the state and Nigeria’s economy by creating jobs, boosting productivity and impacting lives.
He said that the company has a robust Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme that runs into millions of naira per annum, noting that the host communities have been worthy partners in progress.