Akwa Ibom Leading Nigeria’s Industrialization Drive
“I think Akwa Ibom State is moving very fast, Akwa Ibom state has overtaken some older states in terms of Development – and not only physical development, but also human development. If the country was improving at the rate which Akwa Ibom has improved, I think we would have a better country” – Rtd Colonel Yakubu Bako (May 2017).
In May 2017, a team of journalists working for the Directorate of Marketing and Brand Management, the piloting agency for Governor Emmanuel’s DAKKADA social re-orientation campaign in Akwa Ibom State, had the privilege to interview all the nine former Military Administrators and Civilian Governors who had governed the state since her creation in 1987.
The interviews, which were published in the 4th Edition of DAKKADA magazine to commemorate Akwa Ibom’s 30th anniversary in 2017, had the past leaders giving their verdicts on the state of the Southern state since creation.
Surprisingly, three of the nine leaders interviewed independently re-echoed a particular line of thought, insisting that Akwa Ibom state is developing faster than Nigeria, in fact Rtd Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, the third Military Administrator of the state and first indigenous Military Administrator asserted that “…I believe Nigeria is drawing Akwa Ibom back because you cannot develop beyond your national laws”.
While one would naturally dismiss such statements on the grounds that the former leaders might be emotional about the state they once governed, many developments both in the nation and in the state seem to be validating their opinion.
In 2016 for example, shortly after assuming office, Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, while reacting to the cries of Nigerians for the country to maximize her strengths and develop her technology was quoted as saying that until we get to 2019, Nigeria might not be able to manufacture pencils.
That pronouncement made many people unhappy to be identified as Nigerians. Again, in September 2017, news surfaced on the media where Nigeria’s Power, Works and Housing Minister, Mr. Raji Fashola was seeking the support of Egyptian government on Meter Manufacturing in Nigeria. He made the plea when Engr. Ismail Sherif, Egyptian President’s Assistant on Strategy and National Projects paid Fashola a visit in Nigeria.
These are just a few of the unfortunate pleas by the Nigerian government for other countries to spoon feed our economy with obsolete and overused technologies because we do not want to bend down and work.
But are the postulations of past Akwa Ibom leaders true, is Akwa Ibom state leading Nigeria in some aspects of development? The fortunate answer is YES.
For one, Akwa Ibom state has been producing pencils since 2016, a full 3 years before 2019 and it is still the only state producing pencils in Nigeria as at today. Also, Akwa Ibom state, through the Metering Solutions Manufacturing Company (MSMC), has manufactured well over five hundred thousand (500,000) electric meters and are being supplying same to Power Holding Company of Nigeria and other buyers across the country.
The MSMC was commissioned by the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo in September 2017 in Akwa Ibom state.
It behooves the Federal Government to either partner Akwa Ibom state on industrialization or beg Egypt and other countries to spoon feed her industrialization drive.
Again, on Monday September 17, 2018, many Akwa Ibomites and indeed Nigerians were working in their offices and business centers when photographs of a new Plywood Industry in Akwa Ibom State surfaced on the media sphere. The disclosure of an ongoing plywood production factory came in between two major developments in the state that are worth mentioning; first the endorsement of Governor Udom Emmanuel for second term in office by Business community across the state who are about to benefit from a N2 billion grant and the unveiling of a yet to be commissioned plastic production factory in the state.
Akwa Ibom state has been flooded by industrial clusters and the people can no longer keep count and also because the Governor believes in action over talk so he unveils projects only when they are completed.
Note that in 2018 alone, more than five new industries have been birthed in Akwa Ibom State. They include Greenwell fertilizer blending plant, a plastic production company, Rice processing mill, plywood production factory, a flour mill and many more.
While many politicians and political office holders in the country had long ago shut down developmental activities to focus on the upcoming elections, Governor Emmanuel is still negotiating agreements for Foreign Direct Investments into his state.
He does not want to rest on his oars over being best state attracting foreign direct investment into Nigeria as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
It may sound boastful but it is evidentially true that not even the Federal Government has given Industrialization the bite it deserves the way Udom Emmanuel is doing, and at the last count more than 10 brand new industries including the 400 million syringe per annum Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company, have opened their doors in Akwa Ibom state either through FDI or by the State Government and these are coming with the attendant impact on massive job creation, stimulation of the economy and reduction in unemployment.
In the interest of fairness, one can comfortably project that at a minimum one hundred Nigerians, mostly youths are directly earning a living at each of the industries and factories and thousands more will earn a living indirectly.
Is Nigeria slowing down Akwa Ibom? YES. Akwa Ibom state of today is generating over 200Mega Watts of electricity which according to Federal laws cannot be distributed to her indigenes, rather it must be connected to the National grid.
Governor Emmanuel has had to build power substations at strategic locations just to improve power supply, especially to the industries.
This should not happen to a state that is producing over 200 mega watts of electricity and the second phase of Ibom Power Plant when completed will generate extra 494 Mega Watts of electric power, whereas Akwa Ibom needs only 85 megawatts to power the whole state.
It is sufficiently evident that if all the states in Nigeria were establishing an average of three industries per year as Akwa Ibom state has been doing in the last three years, the teeming number of Nigerian youths would not be unemployed today and Nigeria would not be the poverty capital of the world.
Sam Edoho is Senior Special Assistant to Governor Emmanuel, Directorate of Marketing and Brand Management.