Posted by FN Editor | 6 months ago | 220 times
In the words of Khalil Gibran, ‘Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing towards what will be’.
Abia state has steadily been on the path of progress. The struggle to better and harness the rich potential of the over 4 million people has been a steady journey though not a very smooth one but a bumpy ride.
Perhaps some few things we can recall about us, there were few road infrastructures across the length and breadth of Abia. Agriculture and its produce were not adequately harnessed . Our people in the skills and entrepreneurial sector were so ashamed to label their products by attaching their names and their locations to their brand. We lost our identity and our pride as people blessed with enormous skills and ideas to bring things into existence. Our industries became moribund with no employment opportunities for our teeming youths. Investors avoided our region as there was no foreseeable plan to guarantee a return on their investments.
Personally, I believe everyone who has led Abia State since inception, did put in his best.
Instead of dwelling in yesteryears, moving forward with good focus seems a better option.
Dr Okezie Ikpeazu understood the major issues and challenges facing development of SMEs in Abia. His observed great strengths in their quest to create things into existence and saw wonderful opportunities in their skills and talents in garment and leather productions. He understood earlier that promotion, automation and power, pose threats to achieving their aim while funding was also a major weakness and shortfall..
In trying to solve the needs, Ikpeazu personally took promotion of Aba made products to both national and international stages. He wears their cloths, he speaks their language and he organizes trade fairs for them to showcase their products. “If a Governor can wear a cloth made by an Abian to attend international events, we should be proud of what we do” that changed the trend and narrative while it gave impetus to the drive for locally made goods. More persons have since embraced the culture of owning their products.
Automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency and vice versa. In solving the automation challenge, those who are into production of garments and leather were given opportunities to embrace the change for better efficiency. The first 50 thousand pairs of booth ordered by the Nigeria Military were done manually. Due to the time taken and the energy dissipated, the need for machine arose. Ikpeazu was there to answer when he selected some shoemakers to understudy automated shoemaking in China and made sure the machines were brought to Abia to open the first ever automated shoe factory in Abia State. Garment factories will follow suit. Quality and quantity have improved and more persons are embracing the switch.
His partnership with Electrification Agency of the Federal Government supplied constant power to over 3000 shops in Ariaria. To move further, he initiated a contact that has brought back Prof. Nnaji’s Geometric Power Project which is set to power businesses in Aba and environs. Recall that Afrexim Bank signed a $50m agreement with Geometric power in far away South Africa to boost electricity in the business and commercial hub of Abia State. Ikpeazu achieved a milestone by this interventions that projected Geometric to Ruyi Group as well as Afrexim Bank.
Since 2015, Dr Ikpeazu has championed several funding opportunities for SMEs in Abia. Through patronage, sponsorship, trainings and grants including funding options from federal government and other financial institutions, it is therefore ideal to commend the Governor for his vision for Small and Medium enterprises in Abia.
Watch out for part 5
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