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OPINION

5 Years Of Gov. Emmanuel: A glimpse Of His Industrialization Strides

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Electioneering periods provide political office seekers with opportunities to inform the electorate about what they intend to achieve if voted into office. More often than none, politicians seize every opportunity to make bogus promises they do not intend to keep. Over time, the people have become familiar with the lying spirits of professional politicians who deceitfully warm themselves into their embrace. As such, it has become the norm for the electorate not to take political campaign promises to heart.
Such seemed to be the case during the campaigns that led up to the 2015 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State. Many waved off the industrialization promises of Mr. Udom Emmanuel as one of such empty campaign promises intended to hoodwink the people.
Obsessed with the desire to change the economic narrative of Akwa Ibom, Mr. Emmanuel fashioned an economic blueprint that could transform the prevailing unpleasant realities in the state and urged the people to hold him to it.
He anchored his development agenda for the state on a five-point agenda of Job Creation; Poverty Alleviation; Wealth Creation; Economic and Political Inclusion; and Infrastructural Consolidation and Expansion, which would be fast-tracked through aggressive industrialization. During his inauguration as Governor therefore, he emphasised his plans “to transform the economy of our state through industrialisation and sustained public-private sector initiative, thereby opening up opportunities for growth and improved standards.”
Interestingly, and unusually, unlike the empty political promises of many professional politicians, Mr. Emmanuel, as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, has elevated the art of political promises to the exalted height of social contract with the people. For him, fulfilling his industrialization promises is a covenant from which he cannot renege. The passion to move the economy of Akwa Ibom away from its monolithic oil dependent and civil service orientation underscored why the Governor, again, in his second term made industrialization a major pillar of his eight-point Completion Agenda.
Bringing his international exposures and global connections to bear, Governor Emmanuel has deployed his wealth of experience to attract unprecedented foreign investment to Akwa Ibom State. Among the major industries that have so far commenced operations to underscore the economic diversification commitment of the governor are Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Factory, Electric Digital Metering Solution Manufacturing Company, Lion Plywood Limited, Kings Flour Mill, Pencil and Toothpick Factories, and Ufaini Palm Kernel Crushing plant.
Others are Rice Mills, Starch Manufacturing Company, Cassava Processing Mills, Virgin Forest Energy Tank farm, Fish Processing Plant and Plastic Factory.
Although, the growing number of these industries in Akwa Ibom clearly portends an industrial revolution, yet the impact of this encouraging development when viewed from the value chain perspective, presents multi faceted advantages. For instance, the St, Gabriel’s Virgin Coconut Oil Refinery in Mkpat Enin has the capacity to refine one million nuts per day through three shifts. Already, the company has engaged hundreds of youths as direct workers and has the capacity to employ more than 5000 indirect workers through various suppliers and off-takers of the finished products of the company.
Also, the St. Gabriel’s Coconut Plantation, an adjunct of the refinery project, which spans over Mkpat Enin, Ikot Abasi and Eastern Obolo local government areas, has direct employment strength of 300.
Apart from the coconut oil, which is more valuable than crude oil in the international market, coconut has the potential of being processed into over 50 products, especially beverages and confectionery.
The employment opportunities for Akwa Ibom people can only be imagined when the refinery finally comes on stream. Speaking during an interactive Radio/Television programme last Saturday, Governor Emmanuel hinted that the off-takers for the products of the coconut refinery were only waiting for operations to commence.
The syringe manufacturing company, which is the largest in Africa, has installed capacity to produce one billion syringes annually. Apart from producing syringes and other medical consumables to meet the need of the Nigerian market, the ultimate goal is to become a major player in the export of syringes and other medical consumables to other countries. An understanding of the economic foresight of Governor Emmanuel in attracting this company may have been responsible for why Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, while inaugurating the project in September 2017, described him as one of the most innovative, creative and cleverest person he had ever seen.
The Electric Digital Metering Solutions Manufacturing Factory, which is already helping to meet the metering needs of electricity companies and consumers in Nigeria through the production of single-phase and three-phase electricity meters, in various configurations, is another master stroke in the industrialization drive of the Emmanuel administration in Akwa Ibom State. Considering the billing challenges that have bedevilled the power sector in the country for a long time, Prof Osinbajo considered it “an extremely important project.”
The Emmanuel administration started off during its first term by resuscitating the Ibom Paint Industry, formerly Peacock Paint Industry and setting up a number of cottage industries, through the Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme, AKEES.
The AKEES Industrial Park in Itu local government area comprises a modern and fully automated plastic factory, a bamboo pulp, an hydro form block moulding factory, a pencil factory and a toothpick factory, complete with an artisan training centre.
Beyond these direct interventions to stimulate and engender industrial growth, the administration has also continued to encourage other private initiatives. One of such is Norfin Offshore Limited, a company that is investing an initial capital of $5 million in the building of a ship-building yard in Oruk Anam. Owned by an indigene of the state based in Singapore, the company is looking into building supply vessels for oil platforms, tugboats, batches, ocean fishing boats and ferries for both Nigerian and foreign markets. The strategic importance of this company lies in the fact that there is no other ship-building company the entire West African sub-region yet.
It is significant that apart from creating the favourable ambience for Nofin to come to the state, the administration of Governor Emmanuel was also involved in the negotiation with the local communities for the purchase of land at reasonable rate. The company is already supplying ships for movement of crews and support services to some oil companies in Nigeria.
With unending foreign direct investment flowing into Akwa Ibom, the state is no doubt experiencing rapid economic transformation. Direct and indirect jobs are being created in thousands, translating into better cash flow and new skills for the people.
Although some expected and hyped industrial concerns are yet to come on stream, and some eventually would not come to be, for socio-economic and political circumstances beyond the control of the Governor. This, some critics may be quick to point at. Yet, it would not detract from the commendable industrialization attainments of the Udom Emmanuel administration. After all, it is for the unprecedented industrial development and investment flow into the state that the National Bureau of Statistics, twice named Akwa Ibom as the second best destination for Foreign Direct Investment in Nigeria.
Akwa Ibom may not have become an industrial El Dorado, yet, the purposeful leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel in five years has given fillip to the industrialization aspiration of the State. Moreover, considering the zest with which the administration is pushing the development of the Ibom Deep Seaport and Industrial City, one cannot but conclude that the Governor means business when he said during his second term inauguration that “we will aggressively industrialize this state and continue to attract foreign investors.”. –
Idris sent this piece from Akwa Ibon State Ministry of Information, Uyo

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