WITH dwindling revenue from oil ,the
country’s main revenue earner, there have
been clarion calls for states and federal
government to look beyond proceeds from oil
and diversify into other areas of comparative
advantage in order to save the nation’s
ailing economy. This becomes imperatives
considering public outcry to successive
and incumbent state governors who often
contend that “zero allocation” from federation
account is stalling them from executing their
programme to the fullest.Thus, with high
exchange rate of naira to US dollar, coupled
with the continuous fall in oil revenues,
its attendant low revenue allocation from
statutory account of the federal government
accruing to the 36 states of the federation ,
states are therefore faced with stark reality of
looking for other avenues to make ends meet
especially so if the states in question are to
keep alive the electioneering promises made
during campaigns .Indeed, states are now
looking beyond oil proceeds, and are looking
inwards to shore up their internally generated
revenue ,IGR.In this connection, emphasis has
now be shifted to area where each state has
comparative advantage in terms of mineral
resources/services and to concentrate on
those key areas it can produce more ahead
of others.This fact underscores why States are
now going back to the first republic era when
each region concentrated on goods/services
it can produce better than others to augment
that receive from account of the federation.
With current economic recession biting hard
on all and sundry, each state now more than
ever is gathering technocrats from various
background to brainstorm on possible means
of bailing itself out of the economic quagmire
the country is currently into, so as meet the
government obligations.
To lend credence to this, last week,
precisely on Monday 27th February, 2017,
federal government was in Abia State to
formally launch “change begins with me
with a Town Hall meeting programmes
of APC, the delegation was led by the
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji
Lai Mohammed. Others in attendance
included: Ministers of Trade and Investment,
Labour and Productivity, Mines and Steel
and Agriculture. Abia State Governor, Dr.
Okezie Ikpeazu on hand to receive them.The
Ministers which took turns to address Abians
on what the APC- led government was doing
in their various ministries and of course, there
was questions and answer session.Speaking
at the occasion, the Minister of Agriculture,
Chief Audu Ogbeh however regretted that
the agricultural exploits of late Premier of
Eastern Nigeria, Dr. Michael Iheonukara
Okpara which made South East economy as
one of the fastest growing economy in West
Africa then has not been matched by any
government.He further regretted that 17,000
hectres of palm trees planted by Okpara’s
regime has been abandoned, cashew nuts
plantation, cassavas are now dead. He asked,
why Abians will not continue to make money
in palm oil, cashew nuts and every cocoa. And
he asked whose faults? Agriculture Minister
quickly provided an answer, saying because the
country discovered oil and gas in commercial
quantity.He however expressed optimism that
potential in Abia is enormous while tasking
the people to tap same to the fullest noting that
every state has capacity to survive but the facility
to survive but the fact remains that we have not
explore our areas of comparative advantages.On
his part, the Minister of Trade and Investment,
Dr. Okechukwu Enelemah, said he is excited to
come to his home State to explore opportunities
of the State benefitting from the industrial zone
approved the federal government. He added that
everybody has agreed that there is much going
on in Aba in respect of trade and investment, the
technological break through of the people.To this
ends, he maintained that is one of the essence of
the Town Hall meeting to see areas Abia State
government want cooperation from the federal
government.
Whereas, Minister of Labour and Productivity,
Dr. Christ Nwabueze Ngige said that his
ministry was poised to encourage anybody
that has capacity for wealth creation and would
in turn direct the person where such help could
come from.
He appreciated the fact that the state has
abundance of mineral resources if tapped to the
maximum would yield returns urging them to
maximum the opportunities.Ngige also pointed
out that they are in Abia to talk about made in
Aba shoes and wears and that Abians are in
forefront of made in Nigeria goods.
In response, Abia State Government while
welcoming the visitors to God’s own State, spoke
on efforts made by his administration to shore
up the revenue base of the State particularly
in areas of trade and investment, commerce
and industry, infrastructural development,
education, oil and gas in line with the five (5)
pillars of the State economy.He reiterated the
determination of his administration to make
use of the ‘state enablers’ and stressed what
the state was doing to encourage made in Aba
goods which he said is one of the comparative
advantage of his people. Abia Governor spoke
in glowing terms the creative ingenuity of Aba
artisans and the need to provide them with the
conducive environment for their talents to be
tapped to the fullest adding that in realization
of the set target, that some of the artisans were
taken to Istanbul in Turkey to be able to learnt
the modernize ways of producing shoes, bags,
garments exposing them to some of the modern
machines that would make their final products
world class.Dr. Ikpeazu who also stressed in the
past the reason why his administration is striving
to fix roads in Aba is to open up the market to
investors to avail themselves the opportunity of
potentials in Aba.Also in an interview with the
Honourable Commissioner for Industry, Science
and Technology, Chief Henry Ikechukwu Ikoh
told Nigerian Pilot that when they came on
board, looked inward most of the industries were
moribund and looked into small and medium
scale industries, the artisans in Aba to make sure
that they not only produce quality products but
to help them market their products.
He added that the military ensured that
most of the products were exported , it was
with delight that Nigerians have embraced
made in Aba goods stressing that it was the
determination of Governor Ikpeazu that Abia
state showcases what it can produce.Chief
Ikoh who mentioned some of the made in Aba
goods to include: shoes, bags, belts, garment,
glass cups and bottles, detergents, drinks,
fabrications etc, adding that these goods have
received wide acceptability because they are of
high quality.The Commissioner for Industry,
Service and Technology, maintained that Made
in Aba Goods were making waves saying that
the Federal Government ordered 50,000 packs of
made in Aba Military boots and that ICPC were
now buying Aba goods, and no longer from
abroad having been convinced of its high quality.
He said:“Governor Ikpeazu and myself visited
NYSC office at Abuja where he made case for
made in Aba goods, very soon we will supply
them, NYSC, with kits ranging from boots,
cap, belts and uniform, Industry Commissioner
said”. He also pointed out some of the efforts of
the government to promote made in Aba goods
that government has ensured Bank of Industry
is back in Aba and they are supporting small and
large industries as well as Standard Organization
of Nigerian ,SON, were also back to make sure
goods produced were of acceptable standards.
Industry Commissioner who is also renowned
industrialist in the state with one of his companies,
which produces Harmony foam, disclosed that
Governor Ikpeazu was not joking with quality
of made in Aba goods, explaining why the
artisans are clustering in a particular place so
that whatever goods Aba was sending out has
same quality and bears made in Aba label.In an
interview with Chief Bonny A.U. Akataobi, the
immediate past General Manager, Aba Ekeoha
Shopping Centre Limited, he questioned the
rationale behind referring Aba as Nigeria’s
Taiwan. He argued that “ Aba would be better
be addressed as Japan of Nigeria because Taiwan
is easily identified as unqualified or imitational
goods and that’s why I would not want to see
Aba as Taiwan of Nigeria indeed Africa.”
On why this optimism, he told our
correspondent that he made this expression
because some of the goods manufactured in
Aba, Abia state competes if not better than most
of the goods that are brought in from developed
areas of the world. He added that the fabrications
by our men here in Aba has been proved much
better even than most of the ones that brought
in from outside the country.Chief Akataobi who
added that made in Aba goods can stand test of
time adding that trade fair and exhibition going
on now in Abuja being principally sponsored by
Senator Enyi Abaribe was fast showing that
and buttressing much of what he is saying
made in Aba goods in areas of fabrication.
According to him: “I’m talking what you
may not know that some of the spare parts for
automobile equipment, sincerely speaking
were made in Aba here. Recently the boots
for the army have proved better than what
we have been importing. You know it is a
specialised area in the shoes used by the
military.” He said, “If you come to fashions,
ordinary shoes made in Aba before the recent
exposure of Made in Aba goods: shoes, fashion
products from Aba were being exported to
neighbouring countries and beyond. what
you now find as garri grating or making
machines of small scale equipment even oil
mills are made in Aba, Abia state.”
He further maintained that the revenue
generation could be said to be on low
ebb,and this initially has to do with the
poor recognition of these enterprises of the
Abians , some people would equally want
to find favour importing some of the goods
that are manufactured in Aba unaware that
these importations affect the revenue yielding
capacity of small scale manufacturers. “The
fact of the issue is that we have not properly
done enough to enhance our capacity in
the areas of appreciating what we have as
comparable with foreign goods. It all now
involves pricing down our goods to the
detriment of our revenue levels our quest for
foreign materials has not been given enough
economic policies we rather pay lip service
to our worry for revenue realizable from our
home goods or Aba made materials.
“The revenue that can accrue to Abia State
and Nigeria in general is not properly combed
when we comb and brought out to diversify
our traditional means of revenue generation,
we will value and appreciate a wonderful
yield in our revenue results the issue now is no
longer what we can get from federal allocation
or foreign loans but our ability to use what we
have to achieve revenue goals like in Aba State,
so many things are yearning for attention, not
just only roads, and there is no way we can
expect magic from a willing and performing
governor than to expect all policy initiators to
lay emphasis on what can boost the revenue
of our people and state and not just emphasis
on what can go into our individual pockets”
Chief Akataobi advised.
Senator Enyi Abaribe has also been on the
front line before Governor Okezie Ikpeazu got
saddled with the responsibility of ruling Abia
State, adding that the fact of the issue is that
the publicity and awareness that Aba or Abia
made goods are enjoying is further harnessed
by the wonderful concern of the State
Governor. The retired air force officer turnedpolitician
hinted that in this direction, “you get
to know that we have an adage that any drum
that does not have a helping hand will not
sound well.” So why Senator Abaribe started
by his dress mode in the Senate drumming for
the patronage, he may not have been heard
enough but his brother governor, Dr. Okezie
Ikpeazu has lend weight to the awareness
effort , and the result is the awareness and
acceptability of made in Aba goods we have
today.Chief Bonny Akataobi therefore called
on Aba artisans, fabricators, engineers noting
that they now better encouraged, they look
bottled up in the past nobody knew they were
there, nobody had reasons to compare their
productions with those of others given the
recognition government has now given them.

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