By Imo-owo Mbede
In those days while he yet sought the votes of his people, Udom Emmanuel offered an industrialization agenda, and the people called him “Mr. Industrialization,” even unto this day. And so for three years, the tree of industrialization beareth much fruit (with several industries taking-off silently), even as the ground is being prepared for a host of others…
1Many years ago, arguably the biggest paint industry in Nigeria at the time, Peacock Paints Limited thrived in Ikot Ekan in Etinan. Three years ago, the once famed industry lay, not only moribund, but deeply indebted. Three months after resumption of office in 2015, ‘Mr. Industrialization’ approved the investment of over N500 million to ensure the reactivation of the ailing industry, to guarantee the exclusion of private equity share participation, and to clear the debts of the company amassing from interest on a N30 million loan secured many years earlier.
Today, this move to salvage the factory has seen the light of day and restored the premium decorative, gloss and marine paint in the market. Employment opportunities have been created for indigenes of the State though the Company has German investors as operational partners.
2Day-old-chicks (DOCs) were hitherto transported to the eastern part of the country at exorbitant costs with the attendant risks of death and sickness to these fragile birds, and other exigencies from the Western part of the country. The Akwa Ibom State Government inherited a project site designated for a hatchery facility at Mbiaya in Uruan Local Government Area and entered into an agreement with Prime Poultry, an investor from Ethiopia, for the take-off of Akwa Prime Poultry Hatchery Limited. This venture has proven to be a timely intervention measure in providing day-old-chicks (DOCs) for poultry farmers in the East of the country and environs, as well as promoting cost-effective participation in the very lucrative poultry business.
Akwa Prime Hatchery has provided direct employment to over 70 Akwa Ibomites while also providing wealth-creation opportunities for several others through an extensive value chain. The feed mill requires raw materials including maize, soybean, bones and horns of animals, as well as shells. This incorporates maize and soybeans farmers, palm kernel processors, fishermen, abattoir workers, as well as carpenters amongst others. The breeder farm – constructed to alleviate the hatchery’s initial burden of buying eggs, hatching them before selling the day-old chicks – creates a ready market for wood shavings and saw dust. Akwa Prime hatchery is still evolving and has prospects for massive expansion, and invariably, further employment opportunities.
3Pencils and Toothpicks used all over the African continent are predominantly produced and imported from China. Nigeria and other African countries are now experiencing a reprieve from the importation of these products as Akwa Ibom State’s industrialization voyage has successfully berthed the first operational toothpick and pencils factory in Nigeria.
Late in 2016, the Government procured and installed all the required machines and equipment at the AKEES Toothpick & Pencil Factory in Etinan. Less than a year later, the factory commenced production of toothpick and of course, quality pencils with 60 indigenous members of staff.
With the endless demand for toothpick, the wide availability of bamboo (which is a major raw material) in the state will ensure the sustainability of this project. To strengthen this, the state government has gone a step further to enter into a partnership agreement with the World Bamboo Organization for the cultivation of bamboo in the state.
4When many foreign businesses folded up and left Nigeria in the heat of the recession, VKS Group, a Turkish construction firm stayed put and established Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company, the first Syringe Manufacturing Company in Sub-Sahara Africa in Onna, Akwa Ibom State. This factory positions Nigeria as the largest syringe manufacturing company in Africa, after taking off at a production capacity of about 400 million syringes annually (dwarfing the 93 million annual capacity of Africa’s only other syringe manufacturing company in South Africa. With daily usage which translates to a huge global demand for syringes, Akwa Ibom now has the world’s attention for the supply of this very essential piece of medical equipment.
5Power is key to industrialization and Governor Emmanuel’s passion to make electricity readily available and affordable in the state was the major motivation for the establishment of the Metering Solutions Manufacturing Services Limited (MSMSL). MSMSL is on ground today and will bring solutions to consumer’s headaches and the challenges of power billing systems in the country. The industry produces various configurations of electricity meters which will provide for a more efficient billing system.
Let it be written therefore in the book of industrialization that, as was promised, Peacock Paints Limited, Akwa Prime Poultry & Hatchery Limited, Akees Toothpick & Pencil Factory in Etinan, Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing and the Metering Solution Manufacturing Limited in Onna, have all come alive in the land of Akwa Ibom. Let it also be known that St. Gabriel Coconut Refinery, AKEES Plastics, Ibom Deep Seaport and several others shall likewise be delivered, in the fullness of time.