On Thursday May 4 2017, Governor David Umahi led a strong delegation to Abia state as part of a broad tactical action to broaden the economic prospects of Ebonyi state.The two day official visit took the Governor and his team to key project locations as well as public private institutions that have bearing with trade, investment, commerce and agriculture.

The governor and his team of key government functionaries from the line ministries and agencies as well as the leadership of Abakpa main market traders association were in Abia state as part of the resolve of Governors of the south east zone to collaborate and share ideas as a way to promote good leadership and improve the happiness index of their people.

Governor Umahi who on arrival was received in audience by his Abia state counterpart, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu at the Government House Umuahia during a courtesy call, renewed the bilateral relations existing between the two sister states.

Guided by the host Governor, Engr Umahi and his team visited a number of projects, including the Abia pilot mushroom farm in Umuahia which yields about 1,600 kilogrammes of mushroom that generates close to 132 million naira in eight weeks, the state’s poultry farm housing over 2,500 birds situated within the Ministry of Agriculture complex as well as a palm plantation site.

He also inspected exhibition of made in Aba products in Ariaria, erosion control projects, and a one stop shop public private partnership and investment promotion firm where he offered a joint investment proposal between Ebonyi and Abia states and inspected a number of road projects as well as a multi skills and entrepreneurship acquisition centre: makers of furniture, bricks and metal works, located at Ngwa.

Governor Umahi also performed the flag off ceremony for the reconstruction of the age-long deplorable 5.7km Port Harcourt express road, Aba during which he expressed contentment for the significant milestone recorded by Ikpeazu administration in the area of superstructural development, e commerce, security and youth entrepreneurship.

He explained that the reconstruction of Port Harcourt road in Aba which had remained impassable for years was very strategic to realising the dream of making Aba which is the commercial nerve center of Abia state the Dubai of Africa.

The peer review mechanism provided the Governor with the opportunity to tap from the Abia experience. He and his team listened to presentations on Abia state’s economy and business opportunities. His consultations with his Abia counterpart, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu were extensive and thorough, all geared towards realising his vision of making Ebonyi state a brand name in trade and commerce. Governor Umahi through his actions and pronouncements has left no one in doubt that Ebonyi state is well on course towards experiencing industrial explosion soon.

The governor’s burning desire to expand the investment opportunities in Ebonyi state came alive again when he announced the setting up of the Ebonyi Investment Commission to further understudy Abia state on how to attract and nurture more investors to do business in Ebonyi state. The move sealed the resolve of the Umahi led administration to take the state’s industrial march to the next level. The Ebonyi leader believes that the private sector driven initiative being experimented by Abia state was a viable option to enhance economic growth in the zone. He realises the need to reposition the state from a consumer economy with massive investment infusions which will catalyze the intended industrial revolution.

The Governor’s choice of Aba for this important mission is not misplaced. He has in different fora spoken glowingly about the place of Abia in the industrial space in Nigeria and its ability to serve as a corridor for exchange of ideas and expertise to sister southern states.

An average Aba man is a man of ideas with a great creative mind that manifests skill, trade and craft. From the Aba tailor, the Aba shoemaker, bag markers to the fabricators, there is a generic talent that grows in the ancient city. The Aba made goods remain a story that has gone far and wide. The power of the creativity of the artisans and tradesmen and their profound skill in developing local content have transcended many shores. Aba regarded as the fashion capital of Nigeria and Japan of Africa, boasts of more than 100, 000 artisans engaged in shoe making and other leather goods and over 20, 000 people engaged in garment making.

The new administration in Ebonyi state is thinking about indigenous industrialization – home breed technology which is what Aba summarily represents, hence the burning desire to activate partnership with Abia state government. The visit has signaled the start of an improved collaboration between two potential giants who share similar passion.

On a general note, the visit reveals that there is a lot governors can learn from one another if only they’re humble enough to understand that nobody has a monopoly of knowledge. Umahi’s visit to Ikpeazu leaves big and memorable lessons to other governors and leaders to always interface and exchange ideas to move their states forward.

The opportunity of setting up the proposed vocational training institutes for skills acquisition and development that the visit offers will enhance the process of bridging the gap between industry and academia in Ebonyi state. The target is to make Ebonyi the leading light of the new Nigeria market especially in commerce, Agriculture and investment.

To achieve this, the Ebonyi state government has taken seriously the issue of infrastructural renewal of the state because you cannot talk about industrialization in a place where there is dearth of infrastructure. Currently, strategic roads are being constructed in the three senatorial zones of Ebonyi state with a view to making the state accessible from different directions.

With the planned industrial development, Ebonyi state will soon experience a very comfortable internally revenue framework, massive employment opportunities and boundless wealth. The state is fast opening its doors to the world. Let us join hands and welcome the benefits that knock on our collective door.

Ebonyi state governor has made several deals and connections to attract direct foreign investment too.  He has travelled to industrialised super countries like China and Dubai. In his visit to these countries, the governor has had the opportunity of engaging with leading investment companies and investors, attending investment and development conferences and inspecting blue chip companies and infrastructure. All of these are in a bid to attract foreign direct investment to the state. He knows that the task of achieving economic transformation of Ebonyi state from a civil service economy to an industrialised economy in record time cannot be achieved by common place endeavour but through action.

The governor has never hidden his intention to harness the potentials in the state. Where others see failure he sees success. The optimist says the glass is half full. The pessimist says the glass is half empty. Chief Umahi is an optimist.

The Ebonyi state government is now ready to receive industrialists, to offer them the assistance they need to make their enterprise sink deep roots in the soil of Ebonyi state. Wealth and prosperity is on course for us all.

By Philip Nweze

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