By Ubani Newman Ubani(UNU)
QUOTE: “Our model of Industrial Projects aims at helping Abia capture available windows of opportunities by achieving quick wins in the Leather, Garment and Metal Fabrication industries and also attract export oriented light manufacturing firms that will ultimately create a snowballing effect in the reignition of the Nigerian economy.” – Governor Okezie Ikpeazu
The administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, from its inception, outlined pillars and enablers on which the government would run. Industry became one of the cardinal integrated development targets with the aim of attaining a single target that will re-shoot and re-position Abia as the fastest growing State in Nigeria, creates jobs for Abia graduates and deliver prosperity to her people. Even the ‘more than’ two years irrelevant judicial distractions orchestrated by the enemies of the State’s progress failed to deter the Governor from serving the good people of Abia State to the shame and amazement of detractors.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has done a lot to give facelift to the economy of the State, especially through his impacts in the industrial subsector.
Inheriting several moribund industries(ALL OF WHICH WERE ALREADY SOLD OUT TO PRIVATE PARTNERS PRECEDING THE ADMINISTRATION OF GOVERNOR IKPEAZU) on assumption of office, the question became how he could leverage on what was on ground to tackle high rate of poverty and unemployment that had bedeviled
Desirous of the best for his people, especially the youths, the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu decided to lead a drive to resuscitate all moribund industries in Abia State irrespective of ownership. This singular action of the Governor has ignited life into some of the moribund industries.
* He has reactivated production at the Aba International Glass Industry.
* Leveraging on the solid relationship he enjoyed with the Federal Government, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has, through the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, salvaged the financial crisis that had kept the Golden Guinea breweries out of production for many years.
The Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) granted the management of the industry a facility of $10M (N3.6B) while the Bank of Industry also pitched in with an Economic Revival Facility.
These new funds have granted a new lease of life to the company and installation works is near completion.
Golden Guinea Breweries Plc, Umuahia will be reopened to the public in no distant time.
* The ongoing construction of over 2000 shops-Ovom Auto Industrial and Mechanic Spare parts cluster, with a police outpost and other facilities for ease of doing business, is another giant stride of the Governor Ikpeazu-led administration to prompt industrial revolution in the the State.
It is expected that the international industrial cluster will create employment for over ten thousand youths(10,000) and enhance economy of the State when completed.
The time is therefore ripe for all potential investors Igbos who are hanging and begging for space in diaspora, Lagos, northern States and other places to start thinking of coming back home to invest.
Think Abia now and always.
* He has also commenced the construction of Umukalika leather and garment cluster, a cluster where artisans who deal on leather and garment would occupy, hence they would no longer scatter in different locations.
* The Ikpeazu-led Abia government has partnered with the federal government of Nigeria to provide steady power supply to Ariaria International Market, Aba.
* Also in the leather and garment industry, he has partnered with Ford Foundation to launch international promotion campaigns for ‘Made in Aba’ products. These campaigns were done at zero cost to Abia state government.
* Geometric Power Ltd is private power generating industry, however, just as it was on the verge of switching on its turbines, a complication arose. The Federal Government had embarked on a Power Sector Reform Programme which saw to the disposal of assets of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in 2014.
Since then, Geometric cried wolf but the quarrel stalled and rolled out for 4 years.
Finally, with the intent of providing electricity to boost the economy of the State, Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu stepped in to mediate in the quarrel, convening countless meetings between the Interstate Team and the Geometric Team and finally approached the Federal Government with settlement suggestions. Several meetings were held at the Office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN and the Office of the Minister for Power, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, after which the issues were resolved and Geometric was cleared to generate and distribute power in ~the~ Aba metropolis under an arrangement that also incorporates the assets and investments of Enugu Disco.
Because of time-lapse and delays, Geometrics needed additional funds to complete it’s overhaul of equipment that had become unserviceable during the interregnum and it was already heavily exposed.
Again, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu stepped in, took the promoter of Geometric Power to the Headquarters of the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM BANK) in Cairo, Egypt where the Governor made representations for funding on behalf of the company and gave a personal guarantee of returns on investment as Abians are ready to pay for steady and reliable power.
* Soon, Aba will become and known the hub of automated shoe production in Nigeria as the Governor, after sending the first batch of 30 youths to China to learn automated shoemaking, has also procured the machines to change the narrative of shoemaking in Aba, the commercial center of the State.
Now the big picture!
* Driven by the Public Private Partnership(PPP) unit of the Governor Ikpeazu-led government of Abia State, which was designed to help the State attract both local and international investors and to put Abia in world investment map thereby creating windows for massive job opportunities, the Enyimba Economic City is the first ever free trade zone licensed in the South East.
To be built on approximately 9,464 hectares spanning across three(3) local government areas of Ukwa West and East as well as Ugwunabo LGAs, the Enyimba Economic City will give investors access to export their products free of charge and would attract many businesses within the South East, South South and Nigeria as a whole. The project, when realized, would give over 60 thousand jobs to Abia people. The industrial cluster is planned to be the hub of industry, trade and commerce for the entire South East and South South zones.
The free trade zone license has already been obtained for the proposed Enyimba Economic City.
In order to enlighten people and get ready for the project of all projects in the State, The Abia government in collaboration with the Aba Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ACCIMA) and Abia Think Tank held an economic summit in Aba, the SME capital of Nigeria with theme “The 2018 Aba Economic Summit. The summit sought to galvanize energies and resources of all stakeholders who were drawn from government and various sectors of economy, including industrialists, financiers, importers and exporters, entrepreneurs, business promoters, individuals in Small and Medium Enterprises, representatives of trade associations, business men and women, traders, professionals among others to brainstorm and build a formidable template for repositioning Abia and realization of the Enyimba Economic City and other economic development activities(for more information on the EEC contact 08033307750 or visit https://eecdgroup.com).
Despite all odds, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s determined effort to make a difference in governance, create jobs for the youths and rewrite the history of Abia made him to embark on revival of some moribund industries. He is equally leading the crusade on the recognition of ‘Made in Aba’ products which he has become a brand ambassador to.
Within these three years in office, he has opened new frontiers for the leather industry in the emancipation, renaissance and development of the State. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Governor’s efforts has made the State a major exporter of indigenously manufactured goods such as garments, leather, shoes, belts etc.
It is now incumbent on anybody who loves Abia and its development to queue behind the State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu who has remained resolute in taking Abia to the promised land.
Let us take a better decision that will take Abia beyond the level it is now. God bless Abia’s economy!