So much has been about the wealth and power of the Akwa Ibom State that to say anything more is to peddle a cliche, one that has in the past shrouded the state economy in an aura of infallibility.
It makes sense that this would be the case.The Governor Udom led administration has been able to helm the state economy through his industrialization policy and has done so with varying degrees of enthusiasm and intensity since 2015, when he assumed office as governor of the state.
The industrialization policy of Akwa Ibom State deserves a disquisition. The yearning for a departure from dependence on oil revenues and Federal Allocations developed the trust in the administration and clearly its Policy thrust points in that direction.
Even as we understand that Power holds the key to Industrialization, silent and dedicated advances in increased power capabilities by securing additional licensing for increased power generation for the State owned Power Company from 190MW to 685MW, unlocking distribution via massive investment in Substations and Feeder lines putting a ring of impressive power infrastructure around the state with parts of the State Capital enjoying 15-18hours of power per day has in turn silenced pessimists. Dedicated lines and infrastructure are targeted to special projects like the Airport, Ibom Specialty Hospital as well as the Industrial Clusters in Onna, Uyo and Itu.
The aura of Akwa Ibom State economic infallibility has since faded,thanks to governor Udom who took steps to correct the failures of the past by doubling up on the policies that catalyzed unprecedented levels of progress including infrastructure,thus:
With Road and Power Infrastructure being addressed, the Government pursued her first phase of the Industrialization agenda by delivering an Electric Digital Metering Plant to provide various Metering Solutions that would unbundle the Investor concerns in tracking power tariffs as well as a strategic Investment in Syringe manufacturing with large enough capacity to cater for Africa’s 2.4billion demand for Syringes by producing 350million initially with capacity to upscale to 1billion to cater for both local and international markets, also with increased progress is the proposed Flour Mill all within the Onna Industrial Cluster.
Over 100 Akwa Ibom Sons have been trained abroad to take up various Technical and managerial aspects of these Investments as part of the 350strong manpower needs of the Cluster. With the unmet demand of over 10million Meters in the region, the production line at Onna has steady business supplying the State and Power Distribution Companies, tracking the revenues and tariffs thereby promoting Investments in the power sector and fuelling businesses as well as industrial concerns.
As part of the vision, ailing Industries like the Peacock Paints Factory in Etinan received fresh funding and rehabilitation, several State Owned Enterprises and Assets have become the beautiful bride of Investors putting intense execution and business development pressures on the State Investment Execution structure with proposals and visits. The recent establishment of the Itu Cluster which houses the Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme (AKEES) promoted Toothpick Factory, Pencil Production and Particle Wood Processing and Bamboo Conversion Facilities brings economic impact of 200 direct jobs and 400-500 indirect jobs delivering foreign exchange opportunities for these products.
With several MOUs and EOIs in the place, the State fundamentals as the second highest destination of FDI looks brighter with SMEs springing as an aggregation to co-ordinate and guide the Industrial Revolution . International development agencies and the private sector are all positioned to forge the development of the state’s MSME’s sector. As reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Akwa Ibom State attracted $18.361m capital inflow, second only to Lagos. As talks convert to executable action the huge gap between Lagos and Akwa Ibom hopes to reduce even as Akwa Ibom remains a virgin investment destination for Nigeria.
With the efforts of this government in this direction,the state has braced Itself for significant and stabilizing change such that can be likened to the Chinese industrial revolution.The certain future of the Ibom industrialization adds to state financial stability and enhances the prospects of a second term for governor Udom, as his second coming would mean creation of as many good development projects and opportunities for the Akwa Ibom people.The next term is poised to be every bit as remarkable as the first.