Approval for Ibom Deep Seaport, Commissioning of Industries Excite Emmanuel
Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes that Akwa Ibom State is in a celebratory mood over some landmark attainments that gives credence to Governor Udom Emmanuel’s completion agenda
There is celebration in the air in Akwa Ibom State as the year draws to an end. Although, the global health challenge, COVID-19 pandemic has led to the unfortunate cancellation of the crowd-pulling and globally celebrated Christmas Carols Festival, which usually turns the attention of the world to Uyo, at this time of the year, the Akwa Ibom State government has secured a couple of heart-warming achievements that call for celebration. A few days ago, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the construction of the Ibom Deep seaport project.
This finally set commencement of the transformational project on course, with Bollore and Power China Consultants as preferred bidders. The total cost of the project is $4.6 billion, while the first phase which would be executed at $2.016 billion has been approved by the federal government. The project would be built on private public partnership. It is expected that the project would address the unemployment problem in the state and also ensure that huge amounts of monies enter into the coffers of the federal and state governments.
According to the Commissioner for Economic Development and Deep-sea Port, Akan Okon, the first phase of the multi-billion dollars Akwa Ibom Deep Seaport is expected to generate more than 300,000 jobs. The Commissioner said he was looking forward to the training and professional opportunities that will open for youths in the state, particularly and Nigeria in general.
The Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Ini Ememobong said, “With the development, Governor Udom Emmanuel will soon commence full-scale implementation for the Deep Seaport and the Liberty Oil and Gas Free Zone.”
He was very appreciative of the efforts applied by President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and members of the FEC. He also commended Minister of Transportation, Minister of State for Transport, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Bureau for Public Procurement and other officials of the Federal Government. The commissioner thanked the Technical Committee for the Implementation of the Deep Seaport led by Mrs. Mfon Usoro and officials of the Akwa Ibom State Government.
This continues the trend of good news on the industrial front which was given further verve when Ibom Air finally received its fifth Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft, the second of the two additional aircraft purchased in December 2019. The aircraft, with registration number 5N-BXO, arrived Lagos from Calgary, Canada on August 1, 2020. With the arrival of this aircraft, Ibom Air’s modern and efficient fleet grows to five aircraft, giving it the advantage of operating the youngest fleet amongst Nigeria’s airlines. In 2018, the state government made history as the first state government to own and run a commercial airline, Ibom Air. At a time when Nigeria was yet to have a national carrier, the launch and operation of Ibom Air, earned for Udom Emmanuel a special place in the hearts of Nigerians (not just Akwa Ibom people). Evidently, Emmanuel’s promise to develop the three gateways into state- air, land and water is being fulfilled.
Emmanuel had campaigned for his election as governor on a five-point agenda anchored on industrialization of the state. He assured the people that he will create wealth, alleviate poverty, create jobs, consolidate and expand infrastructure, and ensure economic and political inclusion. On completion of the first tenure and his re-election in 2019, he set for himself a target to finish every project initiated by his government. This final leg of governance has been broadly tagged, the ‘Completion Agenda.’
The results of his industrialization plan are manifest in two industrial layouts. The heavy industries like the metering and syringe factories, coconut industry and flour mills are sited in Awa, while the light industries manufacturing toothpick, pencil, brick and plastic are located in the Itam Industrial Park. Many of them have come on stream.
Most recently, on December 19, Governor Udom Emmanuel commissioned a tissue paper production line, a concern wholly owned by government but will be administered using private sector business model. The interesting fact about the factory is the fact that it uses bamboo as its raw material. This means that local farmers can plug themselves into the value chain by planting and supplying bamboo to the company. This factory will be producing tissue rolls for domestic use (Ibom Soft Rolls) and Jumbo Rolls for off-takers.
According to the Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Prince Ukpong Akpabio, the factory has the capacity to produce, at least, five tonnes of tissue daily and will also employ a minimum of 80 persons. The new dried bamboo-to-tissue technology has been transferred from the original Indian owners to the local operators who have been sufficiently trained to man and service the equipment.
A former Executive Director of Zenith Bank and immediate past Secretary to the State Government, Emmanuel has largely kept his campaign promise to industrialize the state by attracting industries to the state and where necessary, starting the industries. This promise earned him the nickname, Mr. Industralization.
An opinion poll undertaken by some of his supporters, revealed that many people doubted Udom’s ability to birth his promise, not because he had lied to them before, but because since creation, several state governments had tried to industrialize the state without much success. So, the citizens of the state had given up on the industrialization potential of the state.
In 2015, upon assumption of office, he undertook ground breaking, set up Technical Committees for Foreign Direct Investments, Ibom Deep Seaport, Agriculture and food sufficiency to help achieve his targets. So soon thereafter, an economic recession struck, the Naira slumped against the dollar and things looked pretty bad. The state prayed and sought divine intervention. The gentleman at the center of the storm, the Governor maintained a military faith that all will be well.
Not long after, the industries started coming, from the metering solutions company, the St. Gabriel coconut oil factory, the syringe factory, the plywood and flour mill confirmed to everyone that Emmanuel is a serious-minded achiever who preferred to work quietly and allow his achievements to speak for him.
Recently, the pencil and toothpick factories earlier established by the same administration was relocated to the Dakkada cottage industries site and rejigged for better productivity.
Emmanuel had campaigned for his election as governor on a five-point agenda anchored on industrialization of the state. He assured the people that he will create wealth, alleviate poverty, create jobs, consolidate and expand infrastructure, and ensure economic and political inclusion. On completion of the first tenure and his re-election in 2019, he set for himself a target to finish every project initiated by his government. This final leg of governance has been broadly tagged, the ‘Completion Agenda.’ The results of his industrialization plan are manifest in two industrial layouts. The heavy industries like the metering and syringe factories, coconut industry and flour mills are sited in Awa, while the light industries manufacturing toothpick, pencil, brick and plastic are located in the Itam Industrial Park