Governor Uzodimma’s Industrialisation Policy

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By Collins Ughalaa KSC

One of the high points of the Uzodimma Shared Prosperity Government within two years is the stupendous drive to industrialise the State. Few months after Okorocha became Governor in 2011, he promised to look into the Owerri Industrial Layout at Irette with a view to reviving moribund industries. That promise did not see the light of day. In the buildup to the 2015 governorship election, he came up with the fraud tagged “factory, factory, factory, industry; industry, industry, industry; job, job, job.” That too did not see the light of day. Instead of gingering businesses to life, Okorocha mortgaged otherwise thriving government concerns such as the Concorde Hotel, Adapalm, Imo Hotels Ltd, and diverted Government properties to personal use. This diversion led to the audacious recovery programme of the Shared Prosperity Government.

But all those failures are things of the past, as Governor Hope Uzodimma has taken bold steps towards industrilizing the State and creating jobs for the youths. The Governor has paid back the N1.3bn owed AMCON and recovered the Imo Standard Shoe Industry. This Compnay had been moribund for decades. Not even the Mallam Emeka Ihedioha administration was able to resolve the impasse. On the contrary, when Mallam Ihedioha visited the Company few months before he was booted out of office, he looked confused and did nothing to save the job and revenue yielding state asset. But he was quick to build palaces for himself. Having been recovered, the Imo Standard Shoe Industry will create thousands of jobs in the State and enhance the revenue base of the State. The recovery of Imo Standard Shoe Industry is award winning, not only because Governor Hope Uzodimma is the first Imo Governor to pay back loans and recover State asset, his drive to industrialise the State is audacious and the first after Dee Sam Mbakwe.

“My administration has also commenced moves to revamp all the moribund industries in the State. This administration has paid the debts owed to Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) by successive administrations in the State in respect of the Imo Standard Shoe Industry. The sum of N1.3bn was negotiated down and full and final payment made. I am hopeful that operations will commence in the industry in the next few months.

“Investors have also indicated interest to take over Nsu Tiles, Ehime, and Avutu Poultry Farm. These are efforts being made by our administration to provide job opportunities for our youths”, the Governor announced during a well attended stakeholders meeting on January 4. He added that his government is breathing life into MSMEs, with the establishment of a garment factory. “Also, few weeks ago, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, commissioned a cluster for fashion designers in the State, under the Imo State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Clinic. This will help our skilled dressmakers to practice their trade as the cluster is fitted with well-equipped industrial sewing machines where they can make trendy dresses, including T-shirts and [fez] caps for industrial use”, he added.

The Governor also disclosed that his administration is partnering the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to industrialise the 27 local government areas of the State. He said: “We are on the verge of producing an industrial policy for the State. This has been missing over the years and that has impacted the growth of industries in the State. Consequently, we have engaged the services of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to help in this regard. A few weeks ago, UNIDO met with stakeholders and brain stormed on the formulation of an industrial template for the State that will take cognisance of the comparative advantage of each local government area, as well as their peculiar needs”, he said.

For the first time since leaving the shores of Nigeria, Donlop Tyres would be taking over the Imo Rubber Estate in Owerri West LGA and set up a factory there, courtesy of the Shared Prosperity Government. As if this was insufficient, the Governor disclosed that he has agreed on a N350bn investment by Roche into Adapalm. The Governor disclosed this during a meeting with representatives of Roche and the host communities in Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta LGAs, at the Sam Mbakwe Exco Chamber on Thursday, January 13. He said the N350b investment in Adapalm by Roche Group was based on a new Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal.

Governor Uzodimma noted that his  Government has resolved amicably all the contentious issues over the agreement Roche Group entered with the Okorocha administration, which led to serious legal battle. He added that the new deal would ensure a win-win situation for all stakeholders, as it guarantees 5% equity for the host communities and 14% equity for Government. “Government can no longer run Adapalm alone. That is why Government has gone into partnership with the Roche Group for the continued management of Adapalm. For some time now, Government and Roche were in court concerning the original MOU and terms of agreement that were not consistent with the 3R mantra.
 
“Today, through the PPP arrangement Government has resolved whatever differences there were with Roche Group so as to have a win-win situation and allow the Company to continue in the management of Adapalm. The Government has restructured the former agreement where Adapalm is to be run based on the new members of same Roche Group”, said the Governor.

What Governor Hope Uzodimma is doing in Imo State is breathtaking. Aside addressing infrastructural deficit, revamping the educational and health sector, he has shown more than enough capacity to industrialise the State. We cannot build a 21st century economy without having functional industries that can create jobs and generate revenue for Government to meet its obligations. With our youths gainfully employed, we shall not only have a robust economy but a peaceful State as well. A rancorous environment will be of benefit to no one.

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