Abia State: Welcome to the new economic frontier of Nigeria Sam Hart

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It has been long accepted by developmental scholars and social scientists that the primary responsibility of a leader is to envisage the best future for the led and set the right parameters in place for them to attain lofty heights.

A leader is not always required to do the heavy lifting. It has even been argued that a leader who exerts excessive energy and force in the course of steering the led in a particular direction is not an effective leader.

In Abia State, there is a leader who achieves social mobilisation by sheer force of his sincerity and personal example.

In Abia State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu does not exert too much energy. His people know him through his works that eloquently speak for him. They trust him. Not an enforced trust but an earned one. If he says we are going in this direction, even before the destination becomes clear, his people follow him knowing full well that if he is leading them in that direction, then there is light there.

It all started with the Made In Aba Campaign. Even before he became Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu identified Aba as a fulcrum upon which the derrick of his administration will rest in the full knowledge that a productive Aba is critical to the development of the rest of Abia State.

He started with a personal example. He wore strictly Made In Aba attire and showcased the Aba producers to the local and international audience. Gradually, his vision became clearer and today, with the benefit of hindsight, everyone has seen the effect of the Campaign.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has keyed into the campaign irrespective of the fact that Dr. Ikpeazu belongs to a different political party. Abia State is firmly on the map of National SME Developmental Policies and it is all as a result of the foresight and social mobilisation of a leader.

There is no gainsaying the fact that power is a minimum requirement for the industrial development of any serious cluster, region or country. Even though power is a National challenge in Nigeria, because of the foresight of Governor Ikpeazu in attracting attention to Aba, the city is receiving special attention for the provision of uninterrupted power.

The Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, through the Rural Electrification Agency, has commissioned the construction of a 5 Megawatt Power Plant to provide over 37, 000 shops at the Ariaria International Market with uninterrupted power supply. This was after a pilot test-run with 1,000 shops over an uninterrupted period of 6 months.

Upon completion in 2019, Ariaria Market traders, shoemakers, fabricators and inventors will have uninterrupted power supply. One can only imagine the opportunities that will be unlocked for creativity and inventions.

The Abia man is already a natural genius who is already doing unimaginable things under the most difficult of social conditions. When you now provide him with basic opportunities to take his craft to another level, the outcome is better imagined.

Added to the goodnews of imminent uninterrupted power is the fact that Geometric Power, the pioneer private licensee of a Power Project in Nigeria has received a new lease of life to come on stream in the shortest possible time. Recently in Beijing, China, it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ruyi Group of China for equity investment in Geometric Power which will enable it accelerate it’s switch-on process.

The Ruyi Group already has Power Plants in China, Pakistan and Ethiopia and are looking to become the dominant players in the world in the energy sector. This investment in Geometrics will lead to the activation of not just the already completed power plant at Osisioma, but also ensure speedy work at new plants at Ugwunagbo and Ukwa West.

This enables us segue perfectly into the Enyimba Economic City Project.

This project is a Public Private Partnership between the Abia State Government and Crown Realtors Limited. Encompassing a total land area of over 9,000 Hecters, the project traverses three Local Government Areas and terminates on the boundary with Rivers State.

Another product of the foresight of Governor Ikpeazu in attracting attention to Aba, the Enyimba Economic City, has as major driver, Mr. C. Darl Uzu, the Chief Executive Officer of Crown Realtors.

Governor Ikpeazu, just like he did with the Made In Aba project, has lent the full weight of his name and office to the development of the Enyimba Economic City.

Through intergovernmental diplomacy and leading from the front, Enyimba Economic City has been designated a Free Trade Zone by the Federal Government. Governor Ikpeazu has equally led countless meetings to key stakeholders to secure their buy-in and investment into the project.

A major milestone in Governor Ikpeazu’s economic diplomacy was achieved recently again in far away Beijing, China. The Enyimba Economic City signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a multi billion dollars investment by the Ruyi Group in the Economic City. The Ruyi Group is the World’s largest producer of garments and allied products and they are set to invest at the Enyimba Economic City.

Present at the signing were the Nigerian Ambassador to China, Amb. Baba Ahmed Jidda, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Hajiya Aisha Abubakar, Economic Adviser to the President, Dr. Adeola Dipeolu, Chairman of the Board of Geometric/Enyimba Economic City, Dr. Pascal Dozie, CEO of Geometrics, Prof. Barth Nnaji, Management of the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) and other relevant officials.

The array of witnesses at the signing ceremony was symbolic & indicative of the level of support the project enjoys.

Governor Ikpeazu represented the Government and people of Abia State. The Nigerian Ambassador’s presence conveyed a Presidential approval. The Minister of State Trade and Investment conveyed the backing of the Federal Cabinet. Director General of Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority signifies support of regulatory agencies. Economic Adviser to the President signified that the top bureaucrats in the President’s Office have given their blessings.

As I write, Enyimba International Stadium is about to re-emerge as one of the best in the country with it’s state of the art pitch.

All these were not random developments.

Governor Okezie upon assumption of office highlighted his developmental focus for the three Senatorial Zones of Abia State thus:

Abia South will be our Industrial hub
Abia North will be our Agricultural belt while
Abia Central will continue to serve as administrative hub and also processing centre for agricultural products harvested in the North.

Every great development is a product of vision. Every vision needs a visioner and driver who will drive social mobilisation for the actualisation of that vision. A leader with clarity of direction and strength of conviction. Abia State is blessed to have such a leader in Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.

Abia State, under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, has reasserted itself as a veritable investment destination. Let those who understand how to make hay while the sun shines do the needful.

Sam Hart is the Special Adviser to the Governor on Communications.


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