Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State said at least 7,000 youths would be trained and engaged when the proposed $1.4 billion fertilizer and ammonia plant becomes operational in the state.

The Nigerian government earlier this month signed a pact in Morocco with OCP Morocco, a leading global provider of phosphate and its derivatives, for the building of a fertilizer and ammonia plant in Akwa Ibom State.

The deal is to aid the second phase of the Nigerian Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) and is expected to boost fertilizer production in Nigeria.

Governor Emmanuel was part of the Nigerian delegation to Morocco. He signed the agreement on behalf of the Akwa Ibom State government.

Mr Emmanuel, who spoke on Tuesday on his arrival at the Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo, from official engagements outside the country, appealed to Akwa Ibom youth to get set to embrace the opportunity, as the training and engagement of the 7,000 semi-skilled labour were part of the government’s effort on human capacity building in the state.

“It is not only a fertilizer plant, it’s fertilizer and ammonia that is coming in. So many other projects will be coming in relating to that and so many other things.

“I like us to be given a little bit of time, but I think what is very urgent is for us to go back and see the human capacity that is on ground.

“This is the time the youth must be willing to go on training to be useful, so that people from other places will not come and occupy these opportunities.

“A lot of construction work will be ongoing in some of these projects, we need close to 7,000 semi-skilled labour, and to train 7,000 will cost us some time, money and other resources.

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“So I think what is very urgent now is human capacity development. It’s not for me to keep analysing the projects, as you can see, the projects are at an advanced stage,” Mr Emmanuel said.

He also said that a bigger project would soon be unveiled in the state.

“While we are celebrating this one, I think something much bigger is coming, we just concluded it, and it will unfold soon,” he said.

Mr Emmanuel inspected the Green House facilities at the precinct of the airport. He pledged to support local farmers to boost the production of crops that would feed the citizenry.

While inspecting the onions, tomato and pepper farms, the governor expressed satisfaction with the state Ministry of Agriculture.

He said onions were not very common within the region, noting that their cultivation would put an end to dependence of external supply to the state market.

“I am more excited with the onion plantation, I think this is the same thing people thought is rocket science because we didn’t even try, we thought probably this could not be done here.

“But look at it now, within three to four months, we are harvesting onions. It is perfect, it’s really excellent.

“I only inspected the tomatoes and the pepper farm to actually assess the level of harvest and be sure that as it is being harvested the nursery is in tune to replant.

“Within the week, I am going to inspect rice, cassava, all staple foods, so we will use this end of the first quarter to look at providing inputs for local farmers this planting season,” Mr Emmanuel said.

He said that the state took advantage of the cut in supply of onions, which necessitated the Ministry of Agriculture to swing into onions cultivation.

“I keep saying that our target before we leave office in May 2023 is to at least produce 80 per cent of what we eat in our locality.

“So, we got challenged last year when they said there are no onions in the market. We said let’s try planting onions inside the Green house, and another outside, at least you have seen the result.

“We have given an order to clear more hectares and plant more, so I am sure by June we should harvest a lot of onions, pepper and other vegetables so that we can feed the people,” he said.

(NAN)

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