Amidst fanfare, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki; National President, Nigerian Chamber Of Commerce, Industry, Mine And Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu; President, Benin Chamber Of Commerce, Industry, Mine And Agriculture (BECCIMA), Helen Atekha-Odemwingie and other distinguished personalities declared open the Edo Trade Fair 2019, with the theme, “Developing A Vibrant Non-Oil Economy”. The opening ceremony coincided with the Alaghodaro 2019 Summit, which is a series of events held to mark the governor’s third-year in office. The fair, which is being organised by the state government in collaboration with BENCCIMA, and Edo State Ministry of Wealth Creation and Cooperatives is holding at the Trade Fair grounds on Aerodrome Close, Ekehuan Road, Benin City, the Edo State capital, from November 9 to 25, 2019.
Other dignitaries present at the event include the Oredo Local Government Chairman, Jerkins Osunde; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Wealth Creation, Cooperatives and Employment, Mr. Edionwe Joel; Edo State Investment Promotion Office. Hon. Kelvin Uwabi, among others. Governor Obaseki said the Edo Trade Fair, which is being revived after over a decade that it last held, will stimulate commerce as well as local, bilateral and multilateral business collaborations in the state, adding that the fair is part of a renewed effort by his administration to drive productivity and economic prosperity. Obaseki, who was represented by the Commissioner of Wealth Creation, Cooperatives and Employment, Hon. Dr. Felix Akhabue, said, “It indeed a great honor to host thousands of Industry players, exhibitors and buyers, who will be converging at this venue over the next few days. Making Edo State Nigeria most investment-friendly destination is our paramount desire.”
According to him, “The Obaseki-led state government has formulated several successful policies, which have earned the state the rank of the 2nd best-performing state in the 2019 World Bank’s portfolio performance award.” He further disclosed that the state government has launched a N2bn Micro Credit Scheme to avail small businesses in Edo State easy access to funding. “We are aware of the importance of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to the development of any economy. So, we have entered a key partnership with the Bank of Industry and launched a N2bn Micro Credit Scheme to avail small business in the state easy access to funding”, he added. Atekha-Odemwingie said the theme of the fair was carefully selected to review Edo State’s performance in the non-oil sector, so as to formulate methods and strategies to ensure effective and efficient diversification from the dependence on crude oil, adding, “The trade fair goes beyond an avenue for commercial activities of buying and selling; it is more of making contacts and connections.”
Earlier in his keynote address, “Developing A Vibrant Non- Oil Nigeria Economy”, the guest speaker, Prof. I.O. Osamwomyi, highlighted some key areas necessary to achieve non-dependence on oil. He further commended Governor Obaseki for the great job he is doing in Edo State, particularly in the areas of road construction, industrialisation, investment in tourism and culture, as well as efforts at creating peaceful and secured environment for the people of Edo State. Iya Aliyu, who was represented by the National Vice President of NACCIMA, Dr. (Mrs) Margaret Ndola-Egba, also commended the state governor for his continued support to the chamber. “This has ensured that prevailing business environment in the state remains conducive for enterprises to exist, thrive and play a role in nurturing the economy of Edo State and Nigeria.”