David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
Former Military President, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar has said the industry exhibited by Nnewi businessmen will help revive the economy of Nigeria.
Abubakar, who was in Nnewi for the unveiling of Nnewi Hotels and Events Centre built by Dr. Benjamin Aghazu, stated that no nation can live solely on the importation of products consumed by its citizens.
The ex-head of state who toured some factories in the city, including Chikason Group, Ibeto Group, Capital Oil and Gas, Tummy Noddles and a number of others said he was happy with what they were doing, while calling for support for them from the federal government.
At Chikason Group, Abuabakar was showed round the five factories that make up the group, while some of its products; engine oil, toiletries, and several others were also inspected.
Chairman of the group, Chief Chika Okafor, who also spoke with journalists lamented that lack of foreign exchange, power generation are some of the teething problems facing the survival of industries in Nigeria.
“Government should show support to us here in Nnewi. This is the only town that has grown to what it is today with 99 per cent contribution from indigenes, and almost nothing from government. We face several challenges every day, but the most pressing ones are power and foreign exchange for the procurement of raw materials. We run 175,000 litres of diesel every week here.
“We are managing to sustain the factory from what we make from other businesses. We have a mining arm, agriculture, real estate and we are also into oil and gas.”
Okafor stated that at the last management meeting of the group, it found out that because of less output as a result of unavailability of raw material as occasioned by lack of foreign exchange to buy raw material, there was need to retrench a huge number of staff members. “But if retrench them, where will they go from here?” he asked rhetorically.
He called on the federal government to come to the aid of industrialists through the provision of foreign exchange and to tackle the perennial problem of power in the country.