In this report, ANDY ASEMOTA observes that the recent resuscitation of moribund Kankia metal Company by the Katsina state government and the establishment of Tomato processing plant by an indigenous firm are part of the needed tonic to ignite the economy of the state.
Few months after the Governor Aminu Bello Masari led government in Katsina state convened an economic and investment summit, aimed principally at re-awakening the state’s dying economy, indications have emerged that the state is on its way to economic recovery.
Pointers to this indication included the resuscitation of Kankia metal works company, a state owned firm, and, the establishment of multi million naira tomato farms and processing plant.
As part of its on-going restoration agenda, which strive to restore the lost glory of Katsina state in all key sector of the economy, the Katsina State government revived of one of the ailing industries in the state.
Originally conceived in 1982, with an agreement signed to that effect in 1983 between the defunct Kaduna State government and Steel and Wire Manufacturing Company, Lagos, the Kankia Metal Works was established to cater for the production of various sizes of nails, ranging from half to five inches.
The idea to establish the company was informed by the need to effectively harnessed the raw materials which abound in Kankia community of the state and ultimately, provide employment to able bodied men and women who will definitely be engaged by the company when fully operational.
However, the factory continued to suffer setbacks from time to time as production activities which commenced at some points in time, were subsequently abandoned.
Sometimes in 2001, the then Katsina State government attempted to revive the factory by installing new machines. The machines were test-run in 2003, but sadly enough, that was the closest the then government went as the test-run marked an end of economic activities in the factory at that time.
Following his election into office as the governor of Katsina State in May, 2015, Aminu Bello Masari approved the release of five million naira for the revival of Katsina Metal Works both structurally and infrastructural wise.
In May 2016, the Masari led administration took another brilliant step in the right direction when it convened the Katsina Economic and Investment Summit with the aim of attracting local and foreign investors to the state.
This subsequently led to the signing of an agreement of a public-private partnership between an Indian company represented at the event, Ampri Global Limited, and the Katsina State government, on the running of Kankia Metal Works Limited.
It is gathered that the much needed partnership is expected to ultimately bring about the desired positive change in the factory and also ensure full-fledged nail production, which is the original purpose of establishing the Kankia Metal Works Limited.
Subsequently, the company is expected to expand following the establishment of assembling plants for bicycles, tricycles (Keke Napep), PVC pipes and mainly tube production.
This project, if carried out efficiently, will no doubt make the state a hub for these products at least within the Northern parts of Nigeria surrounding West African countries.
Justifying the state government’s decision to revive moribund industries, Governor Masari emphasised that it was part of strategies to alleviate poverty through the creation of more jobs in line with the administration’s human development agenda.
According to the governor, the factory will, within the next six months, provide at least four hundred direct employment opportunities in the community where it is situated, while indirect employment could run into thousands.
Also touching on other industries to be revived, he stated that plans have also been concluded by his administration to revive Daura Leather Works project and Funtua Burnt Bricks firm.
Good enough, the vice chairman of the Indian firm, Mr. Vijay Sexena, said the factory, which kicked off with nails production would venture into different aspects of the metal industry in collaboration with the state government.
He observed that the foreign firm is not thinking about metal industry alone but agriculture, particularly in fishery, for the economic empowerment of Katsina people.
Few days after the state government finalised arrangements which eventually led to the commencement of work on the metal works company, the Katsina economy received yet another boost with the establishment of a multi-million naira tomato farm and processing plant by an indigenous firm, the famous Erisco Foods Limited.
The quest to curtail unemployment and poverty among youths and able bodied men is, no doubt, a common problem dominating the attention of most states in Nigeria, as each battles to assist people caught in the web.
In Katsina state, this determination moved close to practical reality as a private Food Company, inspired by the incentives of the state government, laid the foundation stone of a life changing experience through a tomato farm and processing plant at Sabuwa.
The ground breaking ceremony of the tomato processing plant at Sabuwa attracted the state governor, Aminu Bello Masari and his Sokoto State counterpart, AminuWaziriTambuwal, even as the Chairman of Northern Governors’ forum, Abdul’azizYari was represented by his deputy, Mohammed Ibrahim Wakala.
The Senior Special Assistant to the State Governor on Enterprises, Ibrahim TukurJikamshi, started the ceremony with an eloquent speech, where he extolled the unrelenting support of the state governor in boosting the agricultural and industrial potentials of the state.
Jikamshi expressed optimism that following the state’s Economic and Investment Summit held in May this year, a lot of companies active in manufacturing and processing will soon come into the state.
“Mr. Eric Umeofia was in Katsina at the instance of the Economic and Investment Summit and it was there that he promised to lay the foundation stone of a tomato processing industry within ninety days.
“There are a lot of them (investments that are on the pipeline). So, sooner or later, you will see a lot of companies coming into Katsina in the area of manufacturing, because when we are talking of value addition, it is manufacturing and processing.
“It is equally true that there are several other people that are coming in terms of out-grower services and other general services like estate development, property development and several others. So, in the near future, we will see a lot of people coming,” he declared.
Governor Masari, who performed the ground breaking ceremony of the Erisco tomato farm and plant at Sabuwa, stressed his commitment to make the agricultural sector friendly for private participation.
Giving an insight into the quantum of investment Erisco has committed to make in Katsina, the Chief Executive Officer of the group, Chief Eric Umeofia, said the project has a target of 50,000 jobs within three years, adding that the gigantic project aims to process up to one million metric tons per year of tomatoes paste.
According toUmeofia, the multi-billion naira agricultural backward integration scheme aimed to provide the much needed foods and raw materials like tomatoes, rice, groundnut and maize et-cetera, for use in his factories in Lagos and other northern parts of Nigeria, including Katsina.
“This will no doubt help in the much needed diversification of the nation’s economy, save the scarce foreign exchange and earn foreign exchange, and above all help to create more jobs. These are the main focus / objectives of our company, hence we decided to work with the government and the good people of Katsina State and indeed the Federal Government towards the realisation of these lofty goalsand objectives,” he stated.
Barring any hitch, the million naira Erisco plant will no doubt bolster the economy of the state and ultimately, provide a window of employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths especially those in the southern zone of the state where the plant is located.
Indeed, the same can be said of the Kankia metal company which has high prospect of providing employment for youths and ultimately boost the state’s internally generated revenue.