By T.A. Orji
Let me in quick succession; graciously acknowledge the torrents of solidarity and felicitations of good will that followed our recent outing during the yuletide season. I was particularly enthralled by those exhilarating feed backs and genuine feelings of camaraderie. In the light of that, and following from popular demands and suggestions, my humble pledge is that as often as time permits, we will interact through credible mediums such as this.
With that understanding, let me in today’s endeavour, acknowledge the incontrovertible place of infrastructure in driving investment. It is indeed the latitude that expands the breathing space of investment. Our desire to propagate this position stems from the gains of our avowal to create a convivial and enabling environment for investment.
At different interactions we have reiterated the position of our mandate as enunciated in our blue-print that government has no business being in business. The understandable reason is premised on the laissez –faire attitude prevalent in government establishments and which had adversely affected the growth of government enterprises. Besides, the private sector demand on government in terms of encouragement is of minimal effect. This is against the back-drop of their organizational ability, which has endowed them with undisputable capacity to galvanize and or institute huge and impact making sectors which over-time acquire lives of their own.
This submission synchronizes with the on-going national challenge of de-regulating the down-stream sector of our petroleum industry. As we recall the constancy of change, let us remember the nature of man in resisting change. But history is replete with emulative feedbacks of glad tidings that followed the triumph of positive changes. It is only what is given a chance that will drive through and affect lives positively. I would rather we buy into the desire for optimal funding of the federating states (one of the eventual gains of deregulation) and be encouraged if not compelled to provide platforms for healthy display of private sector skills, rather than subsidizing to keep duplicating the mega-fortunes of the players, most of whom as it where, have metamorphosed into dreaded principalities known as cabals. Our heightened age of reasoning and awareness has provided us with the capacity to design effective means of monitoring and evaluating performance vis-à-vis the value of monetary resources at the disposal of each state’s chief executive.
Our persuasion is that the long run effect will positively permeate every facet of our system, with the recipe to jump-start every latent and moribund institution, which, hitherto may have been screaming under the crushing grip of infrastructural black-out. The pledged palliatives will cushion what will be the short-lived biting effects and if amenities are provided for the encouragement and revival of ailing small and medium enterprises, the rate of joblessness and idleness will significantly crash.
I may not be a soothsayer, but let me prophetically posit that the eventual out-come of encouraging private refineries as is the case in other climes, is that it will one day usher us into the advertorial race of players, jostling to announce the cheapest price of petroleum motor spirit on electronic and print media and providing other value added services, with a view to attracting patronage as is presently the case with the tele-communication sector. Granted that past failures and large scale insincerity may have been the bane of successive government, we must admit and call to mind, the words of our late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo “the problem is not in never falling, but in rising each time we fall.” Every pit fall or mistake must be seen and used as a spring board for tomorrow’s mile-stones.
The fore-going, has largely and evidently inspired us to leave very bold-prints in the sands of time. The deliberate man-made studs which sought to maliciously and mischievously truncate our first tenure drive to access an interest free loan for purposes of accelerating our infrastructural provision, is today’s stepping stone to success. We have graciously leaped forward in the Public-Private Sector synergy demonstrated by some remarkable and striking instances like the Abia State Specialist Hospital and Diagnostic Centre, located in Umuahia and Aba. The rapid nature of its expansion has given rise to the birth of Amachara annex also in the State Capital. With the essential and rare capacity to diagnose and treat delicate and sensitive health situations like heart, liver, eye and other allied cases, the specialist hospital was a break through that buoyed us to fast-track our working relationship with Millennium Development Goals, with over 210 health centres located in all the nooks and crannies of the state.
As our Nation grapples with prongs of security challenges, it evokes in Abia the memories of unsavoury experience which in the past menacingly starred us in the face. Social and economic activities took a flight, leaving animals and creeping things to in-habit the abode of men. But our implicit confidence in God produced the strategic formula which saw light overwhelming and triumphing over darkness. Comparatively, it was a child’s play to today’s catastrophic and cataclysmic upsurge occasioned by the ill-wind of Boko-Haram, which must be nipped in the bud for the Nigerian project to move forward.
It should not be a case of aligning with the centripetal government, only if the chief executive is of the same ethnic stock with us and failure which we un-leash all manner of may-hems in the polity. Peace and tranquility, as is the case in a secured environment, remains one of the global antidotes for attracting and embracing investments. The restoration of normalcy in Abia State has showered us with the favour of playing host to retinue of genuine investors, whose variety of wares will extensively deepen the concerted war against poverty.
Facilities for investment are like a tourist searching for a country with the best tourist attraction and we have God to extol for Abia’s receptive atmosphere which established the path-way for Juno-Hermes to berth in the state. The foreseeable success of that huge leap will usher Abia into the league of mass-employing cement producers. Our oil producing status, variously neglected and sidelined, is being enhanced and re-loaded.
Al-Kamali petroleum from far away Dubai will herald a major effort at the establishment of a refinery having accessed and endorsed the earmarked Owaza suitability. Same sense of serenity can also explain the coming on stream of the huge and massive workers secretariat, closely followed by the prestigious International Conference Centre due to seat over 3000 people. The workers secretariat will undoubtedly put paid to the perennial challenge inflicted by lack of office accommodation and increase government’s chances of converting several make-shift offices to better use. Our receptive atmosphere is being savoured by throngs of local and expatriate partners whose strategic input in our different development efforts will emphatically yield the expected results. Adequate security is indeed a strategic lee-way for investment, which cannot be overemphasized.
Each time I talk about light, it reminds me of the biblical emphasis: “and the light shinneth in darkness and darkness comprehendeth it not”. That Biblical analysis is a lucid and vivid illustration of the inexhaustible potentials inherent in the glowing of light. The redeemable case of Nigeria has been hampered by irregularities in policy formation and execution giving rise to age long decay of machineries. President Goodluck Jonathan is cleaning the Augean-stable which has contracted long and deep seated sludge. This effort will require the cooperation and understanding of all well-meaning Nigerians for light to become permanently lit in Nigeria. The on-going reform of government is an initiative rightly taken.
It has become a new vista which stake-holding investors are cashing in on to re-engineer the power sector. The merchandizing edge of Aba will further be explored as work is completed on the Independent Power Station at Alaoji. Motivated by the foresight of Geometric Power Company, it is one ground breaking initiative which small and medium scale enterprises in Aba cannot wait to consummate its reality. The strategic and indispensable role of power in driving the economy, has further convinced government to encourage investment in that regard which is why Mechanical Systems Limited is at the verge of activating the 132/133 KVA power station at Ohiya in Umuahia South Local Government Area. Electricity has been evacuated to relevant feeder stations awaiting the official commissioning of the power station. Hotels with a touch of class and star are dotting the landscape of Umuahia the capital territory ready to optimize their businesses as the 132/133 KVA Power Station goes full blast.
The first Abia State Economic and Investment Summit recommended the institution of a one-stop-shop. Its acceptance and adoption was done with military dispatch. This will insulate investors from the frustrating bottlenecks and red-tapisms prevalent in our systems and institutions.
We opened up access roads that were hitherto impassable and the cheering news is that those areas have been invaded by Private Sectors with the facility to develop properties for commercial purposes. Government is not relaxing in its oars in opening up more. Songhai Farms located in Okwoyi will largely benefit from the road, leading to that area, which is being asphalted. The new Umuahia modern market springing up in Ubani, will have several access roads leading to it, including the on-going Umueze-Emede road. Same genuine and concerted effort is being replicated in Aba to ensure drastic reduction in difficulties people encounter in going about their legitimate businesses. The on-going reconstruction of roads in Aba is massive and holistic. We are hoping that in a short while, completion of Aba-Port Harcourt road, Obohia-Ugwunagbo road and Railway axis of Aba–Owerri Road will be celebrated. This will stimulate the enterprising spirit of our people and make them more result oriented.
As I conclude this piece, may I assure our existing and upcoming development partners, that provision of infrastructural conveniences is our sacrosanct obligation, which we cannot shy away from.