Posted by News Express | 29 July 2013 | 4,113 times
Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State has expressed worry over the reluctance of French international oil firm TotalFina Elf to relocate its Nigerian headquarters to Uyo, Akwa Ibom capital, and called for a change of attitude.
Speaking at a Gala Night his government organised for Mr. Francois Sastourne, the Consul-General of the French Embassy in Nigeria, Chief hinted that the company drilled 75 per cent of its crude oil in the country from the shores of Akwa Ibom.
“Already at the shoreline of the state, the French companies are here. TotalFina Elf, almost 75 per cent of their operation is Akwa Ibom. I will start to report that they don’t have an office in Akwa Ibom. So, you may wish to discuss with them that to whom much is given, much is expected. We look forward to working with a lot of French companies,” Akpabio said.
Continuing, the governor told his guest: “Consular-General, we require assistance to further promote education. We have declared free and compulsory education from basic education of our children but we have opened it up to all Nigerian children resident in Akwa Ibom. Because of that, we have over 1.7 million children in just primary and secondary schools alone in a population that is less than five million. The facilities are stretched, we have built thousands of classroom blocks but we don’t have enough teachers to go round all and we need assistance in any way you can help us.
“We have built the best e-library in Africa and we need to take the facility to the nook and cranny of the state. We must ensure that every school, every community is linked so that our children can become ICT compliant.
That is the only way can produce children who will be employed in the modern society.
“We want co-operation in the area of health. We are building a first-class international hospital at Itam. That hospital, I understand, is larger than the National Hospital, Abuja. But one could ask, ‘why should a state undertake such a venture?’ It is because we want to be the leading light towards Nigeria’s greatness. So, we are preparing for that day. Outside that I have mentioned other areas of cooperation, talking about the deep seaport, the repair, maintenance and overhaul facility and the need for us to have a second operator coming in to run our second five-star hotel.
“There are areas of co-operation in agriculture. We are now going to be designated as perishable goods airport by the Federal Government. Just few things for us to add, we are adding the taxi way which could also operate as a parallel runway. We are going to add a brand new international terminal which is being fabricated in Italy and then we add an underground fuel storage facility and we can go totally international.
“It is my belief that under my administration, we should have international flight from Uyo all the way to Dubai and back to Uyo. It might interest the Consular-General to know that from Dubai to Uyo is six hours and from Dubai to Lagos is seven hours. So, if you fly from Uyo, you are cutting one hour and so many people will like to travel from Uyo instead of going to Lagos.”
Responding, Mr. Sastourne expressed readiness of French Government to cooperate with Akwa Ibom Government in the area of education. His words: “As I said, education is the key to future, the key to development not only economic development but human development, total development. It is really the key that opens the door. So, we will try to improve the development of French language in the state.
“I saw the keenness to learn the French language. I saw students eager to learn the language of their neighbouring countries. We need to encourage them and help them. We will really do that. I am sure that any French company that comes here to invest will be able to do justice in the direction of financing education.
“We will also endeavour to have development exchanges between high-level education university from here and France, not only in the French language but in other fields like human science, Political Science, Engineering and whatever fields you can think of. We will like to train more Nigerians in France, have more students in terms of higher education, train the people who will nurture and make our future relationship alive,” he said.
•Photo shows Governor Akpabio.
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