Posted by News Express | 7 December 2015 | 3,600 times
On assumption of duty as Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu wittingly hit the ground running by unveiling a renewal agenda aimed at rediscovering Aba, the great and famous Enyimba city. Recall Aba was not only prided as the economic and entrepreneurial hub of the South East and South South but the emerging Japan of Africa owing to the ingenuity and creative nature of the people. Unfortunately, the city was neglected and abandoned by past administrations.
Many small scale industries and conglomerates were located in Aba and its environs. Local and foreign investors competed favourably as they deployed huge resources and capital in growing the economy of the city. The harsh consequences of unemployment were rarely felt as many people were legitimately engaged due to massive jobs created by the private sector that actively propelled the economy.
Today, the story of Aba has assumed a sad and unimaginable dimension. Most of the small scale industries and foreign firms have closed shop mainly for reasons beyond their control. Epileptic power supply, collapsed public infrastructure, unfavourable business environment and bad economic policies contributed to the demise of most of the industries. The link and inner roads of Aba collapsed and deteriorated to an impassable state. The drainages were blocked by refuse and all manner of wastage that no doubt created the perennial flooding problems that almost lowered Aba to a zoo city.
Today, the unfortunate and pitiable story of Aba is gradually changing for the better. Aside the ongoing massive reconstruction of some major roads and opening of the drainage system, Gov. Ikpeazu has initiated potent economic measures and policies ambitiously aimed at reviving and repositioning the economy of Abia with Aba as the hub. These measures include the standardisation of Aba-made products. Needless to say that serious-minded governors have started thinking outside the box as the tradition of relying solely on monthly allocation is no longer helping the states. The dwindling global economy that continues to crash the oil price has awakened and challenged some governors that are desirous of success.
To this effect, Gov. Ikpeazu conceived a rare economic module to standardise some locally produced goods also known as Made-in-Aba products.
An indepth study into this very policy reveals the vision and generosity of the governor for Aba small scale entrepreneurs, manufacturers and artisans. The shoemakers, leather and allied manufactures, fabricators and many others stand to benefit from this unique economic plan by the governor.
Beyond creating market for Made-in-Aba goods at the global arena, this wonderful initiative will definitely intensify and speedily propel Gov. Ikpeazu’s coordinated moves to revamp and diversify Abia economy. The dividends the state and people of Abia shall reap in the face of the current dwindling oil prices and looming economic woes are rather enormous. While Abia increases her internally generated revenue owing to enhanced economic activities and entrepreneurial advancement, the local manufacturers, traders and other key players would have developed individually in business as they will definitely extend their business dragnet to the global market.
Another dividend associated with the standardisation of Made-in-Aba products is the possibility of creating a sustainable entrepreneurial framework that will inject substantial value and standard to the locally produced goods. This becomes feasible as the state devices certain mechanisms to regulate standard and ensure quality control to meet the prescribed minimum standard in the global market.
This will end up connecting many manufacturers and entrepreneurs in Aba with their counterparts in some developed and developing economies of the world using the apparatus of the state. Such economic forum and interface will definitely create opportunities for exchange of ideas, increased productivity and high turnover of locally produced goods.
Expectedly, the economy would have been stimulated and charged to a noticeable degree that attracts direct foreign investments to the state. Apart from entrenching an institutionalised public private partnership (PPP) framework, the harmony and confidence investors always seek will certainly prevail in the system. This will ultimately lead to jobs creation by the private sector under the vision of the governor and purposeful partnership with the state government. The focal point remains that the private sector only creates jobs for the people when government develops sound economic blueprint and creates enabling environment for industrial growth and entrepreneurial advancement.
Another derivable gain from the policy is the marginal attainment of products satisfaction in the national domestic market. The flooding of the Nigerian markets with substandard and inferior goods has contributed negatively to the economy and human satisfaction. The standardised Made-in-Aba goods will drastically reduce the massive importation of substandard products from China and some Asian countries to give protection to local producers and consumers. It will also send a strong signal to importers regarding the quality of products that can compete with locally produced goods.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that present economic uncertainty in the country vis-a-vis the standardisation policy of Gov. Ikpeazu calls for close and purposeful collaboration among government, relevant stakeholders and the people. The ongoing renewal projects to rediscover Aba in terms of infrastructure and certain measures by government to redevelop Aba markets should be supported by the residents to actualise the desired objectives. The Aba Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) should become the rallying point for the local manufacturers and entrepreneurs as well as drive the standardisation policy of the state government.
•Ebere Uzoukwa, a former Special Assistant on Media to Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, writes from Owerri.
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