April 22, 2024

‘Emmanuel laying foundation for a viable state’


Ini Billie, Uyo

The Chief of Staff to Akwa Ibom Governor, Ephraim Inyang, on Monday said that the attraction of investors, establishment of industries and diversification of the economy has prepared the state to be economically viable and independent of allocation from Federal Government in matter of an emergency.
He blamed the non-arrival of expatriates from India on COVID-19 restrictions since last year for the non-take off of the state’s 66 tons Coconut Refinery at Mkpat Enin Local Council.
Inyang told newsmen in Uyo that with many industries already built and some other undergoing either technical or structural procedures, Governor Udom Emmanuel would have transformed the economy of the state from a dependent one to a manufacturing and viable economy.
According to him, though there were challenges because of the non-industrial background and orientation of the state, he noted that the governor has been able to revitalise the economy, more than what all his predecessors were not able to do since the state was created.
“I think in all sincerity, Governor Emmanuel came with a strong desire to take the state away from central allocation, civil service, sharing of the money to a sector that is independent of whether there is allocation or not in Abuja because we may get to somewhere in the future where there will be no allocations from Abuja again.
“Our state before 2015 was basically waiting to receive money from Abuja at the end of every month. The private sector was dead before Governor Emmanuel arrived but today I can say clearly that this has changed.
“Laying foundation for a new thing is never easy, it is always the most difficult of any project.
“So, the governor came to lay a solid foundation for industrialization and although it was slow at the beginning that foundation is now a stable one.
“Also before you get people to begin to invest in a place they have not been investing before, it takes a lot of energy.
“To have brought the syringe that is supplying syringe to all parts of the world, to get the flour Mill and the Coconut Refinery, took a lot of effort.
“For instance the coconut project has challenges right from planting the coconut trees up till the time we were ready to install the equipment and we are still on it.
“Now building this foundation takes time but God is helping the governor to accomplish most of the foundational structure he wants to do in the private sector. After these, the state would have been transformed and so whoever God chooses to become the next governor will meet a private sector that is active and running.
“What makes the difference between every other state and Lagos State is not the public sector. Lagos probably by allocation gets less than Akwa Ibom but their private sector is so solid and strong that their Internally Generated Revenue is in tens of billions every month.
“So, I think that Emmanuel has laid a solid foundation to activate for the first time the private sector in Akwa Ibom. Yes, like the pencil factory, it took off, wobbled and has since stabilised. So, the governor is in a journey of diversification of Akwa Ibom economy from completely being dependent on allocation from Abuja,” he explained.
Inyang said the state government remains committed to the speedy take off of the Coconut Refinery because the plant in addition to the Ibom Deep Seaport has the capacity to transform and sustain the state even without revenue from oil.
“Government had programmed the Coconut Refinery to be inaugurated in 2019 but COVID-19 delayed the arrival of Indians who were to install the equipment; the restrictions have made it impossible for them to come now. They may not because everybody is aware that the COVID-19 situation is bad, even from Turkey.
“So, there is no magic we can do because we don’t have capable hands here. The equipment are there but for now there is nothing we can do but for COVID-19.
“You can see that we have a problem because the coming of COVID-19 has distorted a lot of plans. A lot of things we were supposed to do can no longer be done and then resources at the centre which seems to be our only source is no longer adequate.
“So, in all, the foundation for industrialization has been laid and the governor has the intent that by the time he leaves office in 2023, this and that must have been completed but circumstances beyond him has made it impossible,” Inyangenyen noted.

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