Cross River state governor, Professor Ben Ayade has described the concessioning of the ultra-modern Cocoa Processing plant, Ikom to AA Universal Agro Industries Ltd, as part of the deliberate effort of his administration to recalibrate the economy of the state.
AAU is owned by business mogul and an indigene of the state, High Chief Chris Agara.
Speaking during the concession agreement signing ceremony at the Conference Hall of the Governor’s Office, Calabar, the governor expressed optimism that AAU will immediately swing into action and get the Cocoa processing plant to commence production of chocolate bars within three months, warning that failure to do so will result in the revocation of the concession.
According to the governor, “this Cocoa processing plant is one of the industries established by our administration as part of our industrialisation policy and its concessioning today is geared towards recalibrating and growing Cross River’s economy; the concessioning is dictated by economic realities and not friendship.
“Government expect to see chocolate bars from the company soon and if after three months none was produced, the concession will be cancelled”
He disclosed that the bidding process was open and competitive and that AAU came out tops apart from being the only indigenous company that indicated interest and took part in the process.
Earlier, Chief Agara said he was proud to be part of the success of the industrialization policy of the governor, assuring that the Cocoa plant will commence production immediately.
Said the AAU boss: “I can assure Cross Riverians and the world that we have a modern facility that would produce the best finished product that the world, and particularly Cross Riverians would be proud of.
“Within the next couple of weeks or months we will be ready to hit the market.
“We are an indigenous company and I am the chairman of the company and we are from Cross River, so we will not disappoint, we will not fail”.
Urging Nigerians to look beyond oil and diversify their economic interest by going into Agriculture, Chief Agara, a Lawyer, disclosed that his company has “what we call multi-purpose cooperative with over 1,200 cocoa farmers that we are encouraging.
“This year alone we’ve given about 60,000 seedlings to cocoa farmers to regenerate their farms”