The need to revive dead or dying companies in Plateau State is crucial to the socio-economic recovery of the state. In this piece, GOLOK NANMWA writes that not only will it create employment opportunities for the youths, but will also empower farmers in the state.
If recent stakeholders effort is anything to go by, then some of the ailing companies in Plateau State will soon jack back to live. For several years now, a number of companies in the state shut down operations due to mismanagement and bad economic policies. This has led to mass unemployment and increased poverty in the state. However, with the current development, business activities in the state is expected to thrive again, and Job opportunities would be provided for the teeming youths. This is even as indicated, some Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) have been signed in several ministries of the state in this regard. Recently, the state government signed a deal with Oil and Chemical International, for the setting up of a fertiliser blending plant in Foron in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of the state. The MOU was signed by the commissioner of commerce, Ezekiel Daju, on behalf of the state government. Speaking at the occasion, Daju said “this occasion is another milestone in the Governor Simon Lalong-led administration. As we all know, most citizens of our state are farmers and fertiliser is an essential ingredient in Agriculture. Due to the falling price of oil, the state government has keyed into diversification and our governor has vowed to transform the agriculture sector in order to boost food production and the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of the state”. Also, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Linda Barau, who also spoke at the occasion, said that “the unique geography of the state makes the state suitable for the farming of a wide range of exotic and traditional crops for which Plateau is distinguished”. Speaking on behalf of the coy, the director of Operations of Oil and Chemicals international, Michael Ekoja, said Plateau
ranks as one of the leading agrarian states in the country with over 60 percent of its population engaged in farming. “Today as oil prices continue to fall and dwindle, financial allocations from the federation account to the state has not only shrunk, but remain unstable with the grim economic reality of the nation. Followed by the renewed commitment of the present administration to economic diversification, there is certainly no better time to tap into the huge agricultural potential of the state for sustainable and equitable development than now”. “It is a known fact that in spite of the large number of people employed in the agricultural sector, productively, it is low and farmers are poor. To improve the status of farmers, there has to be increased productivity and for this to be achieved, farmers must have access to critical farm inputs and support services like improved seedlings, fertilizers, crop protection products, and other improved agronomic practices”, he said. Recently, the state government also signed an agreement with Hummer Drinks Ltd, a soft-drinks producing company to refurbish abandoned Highland Bottling Company in Barkin Ladi that has been abandoned for over 20 years. The chairman of technical committee of Plateau Investment and Property-development Company, PIPC, Chief Ezekiel Gomos, while commending the state government over the laudable steps to revamp the company, noted that the development was in line with the industrialisation policy of Governor Lalong’s administration. He said, “For us in PIPC, history is being made as the signing of this agreement is a culmination of efforts of several years.” He said the company had been shut since 1995, but by the initiative of the governor, the committee decided not to allow it remain shut. “By this, revenue will be generated for
the state, and our youths will be employed”, he added. Also speaking, Mr. Joseph Umoru, the chief executive officer of Hummer Drinks Ltd said “it has been a very long journey to this day after extensive feasibility studies”, adding that Hummer company is an indigenous company with expertise, skills, and capacity to produce and market well tested world brands. Similarly, the state government recently inaugurated a six-man committee to boost IGR of the Jos Metropolitan Development Board, JMDB. The government also said the measure was taken to reduce the state’s dependence on the monthly allocation from the federation account. Inagurating the committee recently in Jos, the Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Sam Galadima, said following the fall in the prices of oil at the international market, the state government has no choice but to look inward in order to generate revenue. According to him, “It became necessary to inaugurate the committee as our economic challenges have compelled us to see ahead and look ahead Plateau has the potentials of boosting it’s IGR. We have what it takes to boost our revenue like that of Lagos state”, he said. Galadima charged members of the committee to deliver and commence work immediately. He said the committee would develop new ways of generating revenue in line with constitutional provision. Also speaking at the occasion, the chairman of the committee Mr Fabian Ntung, thanked the state government for the privilege and assured that they would submit reports that would boost the IGR of the board. It could be recalled that the state government recently said that plans were at their final stage to commence the rebuilding of the Jos Main Market that was razed
in 2001, noting that government’s goal was to enhance commercial activities in Jos and its environs. Addressing news men, the chairman, Project Implementation Unit for the development of the market, Chief Ezekiel Gomos said 12 reputable transaction advisers had bided for the job, but one was selected after thorough and transparent evaluation. He also added that “Because government has opted to develop the market using Private Public Partnership, PPP, it is only fair that we get a Transaction Adviser who is sound in PPP arrangement; PPP is a new concept in Nigeria for financing projects. We are doing it in line with Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).” Meanwhile the Plateau State chapter of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), has commended Governor Lalong for his efforts towards boosting the economy of the state by diversification saying the rebuilding of Jos Main Market would help promote trade and commercial activities in Plateau. State chairman of the council Hon. George Ndu, made this known in a press statement made available to newsmen in Jos. He said: “IPAC as an umbrella body of political parties in the state, observed with keen interest, the prudence manner in which the Lalong’s administration is handling the lean resources of the state and its ability to clear the backlog of civil servants salaries which is highly commendable. “We appreciated government,s commitment to rebuilding the burnt down Jos ultra modern main market, and also the commencement of issuance of certificate of occupancy (C of O),in the state all in an efforts at revamping the state economy. We also call on state government to steer up efforts at putting more developmental programmes that will impact positively on the
citizens,” the statement further read. To provide accommodation to the citizens, the state government recently signed an MOU with 6 developers to build 11,188 Housing units for citizens in the state. The MOU was signed by the commissioner of Housing and Urban Development in the state Arch Samuel Galadima on behalf of the state government. The developer was expected to deliver in 60 months. Speaking at the occasion , Galadima said that this was the beginning of good and people oriented projects that would happen under the Rescue Administration of Governor Simon Lalong. He said “Gov Lalong is committed to delivering affordable housing scheme to the people of the state”. Also, Forum of Former Members of the Plateau State House of Assembly has called on the state governor to continue to focus on the diversification of the state economy through agriculture, tourism and solid minerals in order to improve the revenue base of the state and create Job opportunities for youths of the state. The group in a statement made available to newsmen in Jos and jointly signed by Hon Maimako Kwanwatu, interim chairman, and Hon Victor Samson, interim Secretary, read that “We appreciate the government in her efforts at completing Moribund companies and uncompleted projects as well as embarking on new ones. “As a group we commend Governor Lalong for his efforts towards revamping the economy of the state, especially the reconstruction of the Jos Main Market, resuscitating the ailing industries such as the Barc farms, Jos International Breweries, the Britvics Bottling Company, Bokkos fertilizer blending plant and the Panyam Fish Farm among others”. The group also appealed to the people of Plateau to continue to support the governor in order to provide dividends of democracy to the people of the state. An All Progressive Congress, APC, chieftain in the state, NaGelu Garba, commended the governor for his efforts at revamping the economy of the state. He appealed to the people of the state to support the governor in order to provide the dividends of democracy to the people of the state. Alex Malunga another citizen of the state commended the state government for the signing of the MOU to revive the Bokkos Fertiliser Plant and that of Foron in Barkin Ladi stressing that this would encourage citizens of the state to go into farming.