August 02, (THEWILL) – The Honourable Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport in Akwa Ibom State, Akan Okonin, gives an insight into the development strides of the Udom Emmanuel administration in this interview with UDEME UTIP. Excerpts:
Industrialisation appears to be the major goal of the Udom Emmanuel administration in Akwa Ibom State. How far has this been achieved, six years after?
Industrialisation is a process, not a destination. We need to cast our minds back to what the situation was before Governor Udom Emmanuel came into office. You would agree with me that we did not have any functioning industry prior, except the Champion Breweries which was running at an epileptic capacity. However, under the administration of Deacon Udom Emmanuel in the past few years, a lot of industries are now operating in the state.
Employment opportunities provided by these industries have enabled many families to put food on their tables. They have created wealth and continued to contribute to the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the state, thereby adding value to development. We can therefore say that the economy of the state is growing.
How is the growth of the economy measured? It is measured by the volume of goods and services that is being produced within that economy. Today, we have a flour mill that is operational. We have the Meter Solution Factory, Syringe Factory, Plastic and Plywood Industries and the rest, which are all operational. The present administration has done very well, in terms of industrialising the state. As I mentioned, industrialisation is a process, not a destination.
New industries are coming up every day. Today, you can count more than 18 of them. A man came in and saw nothing on ground, but he has been able to do this much within six years. This is a big deal when it comes to the industrialisation which is the hallmark of development.
What factors have contributed to this success story?
You know that most businessmen like to go to an environment that is conducive. Upon assumption of office, Governor Emmanuel set about creating a peaceful and enabling environment for commerce and industry. People prefer to set up business in places that favour the free flow of commerce. Our state is ranked very high in that aspect because the governor had looked at the various gateways and tackled them head-on. He has ensured there is free movement of goods and services. The ease of transportation has really helped and Governor Emmanuel has shown leadership and capacity by ensuring that he attracts very good investments and industries to the state. His experience in the financial industry has been quite handy and we have witnessed the impact.
The Akwa Ibom State Government is partnering with the Federal Government in the construction of an oil and gas station at Ikot Abasi, the Ibom Deep Seaport, and the Ammonia/Fertilizer Plants. Can you tell us more about these projects?
The partnership is intended to serve as a game changer for our economy. The major challenge facing us as a state borders on unemployment. Our gifted youths are not given the opportunity to excel. But I believe these industries will go a long way to provide jobs for unemployed in the state. When operational, the infrastructure will change the dynamics of the state’s economy. There will be an influx of skilled people, an increased IGR and a lot of commercial activities, as well as logistics, in the state. That is what makes Lagos tick. So imagine if all that is replicated here in Akwa Ibom. The economy will grow and our people will benefit from it.
Are we still expecting more industries within the life span of this administration?
Of course, there will be more industries in the state. Governor Emmanuel is Mr Industrialisation himself. He will keep on industrialising the state until the end of his tenure. That is the truth.
Some industries are still at foundation level. The Car Assembly Plant in Itu is one of them. What is the fate of these projects?
You need to visit those places soon. Work has started there. The factory building of the Car Assembly Plant is almost completed. They cannot be abandoned. Government is ensuring partnership with the private sector to make the project operational.
What is the status of the Ibom Deep Seaport?
We are making progress. You are aware that we have received approval from the Federal Government. Port construction is different from road construction. There are many technicalities to consider. We are currently on the geo-technical and geo-physical aspects, studying the biometrics to get accurate data that would be required in the process. It is ongoing.
Let’s talk about Rt. Hon. Aniekan Akpan’s recent election as chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom. Since there is a close relationship between politics and economic development, what should we expect under Akpan’s leadership of the party?
What the party needs most is our continued support to the party and its new Chairman. I am convinced that with his unquestionable pedigree and experience, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Akpan will, in no small measure, help to emancipate the PDP in Nigeria in 2023 and beyond.
I am sure he will deploy his wealth of experience in governance to ensure the PDP takes back power in 2023. I am also happy that he is coming at this time. Politically, he’s deeply rooted and well versed. My advice is that he should adopt a workable strategy that will further strengthen the party and ensure that its members enjoy peace, justice and fairness.
I sincerely appreciate the leadership of the party in Akwa Ibom under Governor Udom Emmanuel. He has been quite supportive. I’m calling on Akwa Ibom people to remain loyal to the current administration in the state. This way, the wind of industrialisation will continue to blow across the state in the most favourable manner.