By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
The Nigeria Export and Import Bank has signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Financial Service Agreement with the Cross River State government to aid it attain the NGN1.3 trillion budget estimate for 2018 presented by Governor Ben Ayade last week.
The Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Abba Bello who signed the agreement on behalf of the bank Wednesday in Calabar, the Cross River State capital said the institution is committed to helping the state get funds to actualize the budget due to the ambition and aggression being shown by the state with regards to its industrialisation drive.
“This is the first time a state government in Nigeria will present a budget of N1.3 trillion. It therefore, becomes very important that the state will be able to achieve the revenue that will support the expenditure.
“I was taught earlier in my career that to achieve dreams you have to be audacious and I believe that you start with having a target and for you the target today is the budget. I must stand behind you sir to ensure that budget is achieved,” said Mr. Bello
He disclosed that NEXIM Bank had gone ahead to start attracting investments into the state even before the signing of the Financial Service Agreement with the state.
His words: “We have already contacted some investors in the garment industry and already three Spanish companies have indicated interest in the Cross River State Garment Factory and I believe that we should be able to close that deal immediately.
“As we were coming, we brought one of our customers that is innovative, in the sense that there are an outsourcing company. We supported them and encouraged them to move part of their call centres to Cross River State and on that basis, we have visited the Tinapa Knowledge City and they have expressed willingness to start work that will create employment for 1000 youths.
“We have also seen what is happening at the industrial park with rice city as well as the pharmaceutical company. For us, industrialization and diversification from the oil industry is very key to us. It is clear that Cross River State is already taking the lead and we are fully behind you.
“We are very pleased to partner with Cross River State and we want to use it as an example to other states, believing very strongly that this partnership will generate huge revenue for the state and the Federal Government as an alternative to the oil.”
He gave assurances that once the 2018 budget is achieved, his bank will get involved with the state in the making of the 2019 budget.
“I am sure that by this time next year after the budget has been achieved, we will meet again to set a more audacious budget,” he pledged.
In his response, Governor Ayade expressed delight at the partnership, saluting the courage of the bank for standing behind the state.
“I salute your courage for standing by us at this trying moment, a moment were there is global scepticism, fear and suspicion over our budget estimate. The history of our government comes from a deep vision when we sat down and thought of decoupling the state from its continuous dependence on federal allocation.
“We come from a very strong ethical background of business. We needed to commoditise government and drive it as a business because in a third world, there is general argument that government has no business being in business. Unfortunately, that is absolute falsehood.
“If you look at China’s model, government itself drives almost all the businesses with over 70 percent of their companies doing businesses globally.”
Continuing, he said given its desire to decouple the economy of the state from dependence on federal allocation, his administration is compelled to “run Cross River as a sub-national.
“Your partnership with us goes beyond business. It is the ethical perception that there is a small system somewhere where things are working.”