By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-More than 50,000 local shoe and garment makers from Abia are to be trained by the Turkish business community in a new business partnership deal between the State government and Turkish embassy in Nigeria.
This was even as the foreign government is set to inject millions of Dollars in various areas of the State economy.
The target according to State government was to boost the manufacturing and industrial base of the State to create more job opportunities for the people.
These were the highlights of an agreement reached between the State government and the Republic of Turkey at a brief ceremony held at the Turkish embassy Tuesday night in Abuja.
Speaking at the ceremony, Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu said that the partnership was sequel to his business trip to Istanbul September last year.
He said that his government decided to partner the Turkish government because of the similarities shared by the two governments in garment and shoe industries.
“I thank the Turkish embassy to allow Abia to be a trail blazer once again. In September last year, I embarked on my first journey to Turkey. We feel that the best thing was to begin to learn from Turkey. Abia and Turkey have so many things in common. We have over 50,000 shoe makers. We believe that our people can learn so from the Turkish experience in making beautiful shoes and dresses.
“So, in our decision to drive 5 pillars of development especially Small and Medium scale enterprise, we find out that Turkey had a similar trajectory in terms of their machine, tools because they were able to produce machines that could service the equipment they were using in their factories and the economy is also built strong on the small and medium scale enterprise as a catalyst for rapid economic development. It would have been too fast for us to go to well established economies like Germany, America and all that.
“But we felt that Turkey had a growing experience taken a bit from Russia and Germany. The outcome in Turkey; solid equipment, solid infrastructure base and then flourishing output in terms of beautiful and wonderful products especially as it concerns garments and leather works.
“Our emphasis in Abia is also on garment and leather works. That naturally took us to Turkey and we believe strongly that there is a lot for us to learn as a growing economy in Abia from Turkey.”
The Governor said that the result of the partnership would be seen almost immediately.
“Almost immediately because there is a process of growing business. You start by fertilizing the idea which we have done today. This is a follow up to our first meeting in Turkey in September last year. And then we expect that the fall-out of this interaction will be businesses and partnership between Turkish people and Abia people. And then in the next 12 months, we will wait to see the result.
“As a I speak, Abia is perhaps the only State in Nigeria that has consistently exported in the past 20 years but it is not formalized because many people do not know about it. But as I speak, products are leaving the shores of Abia State into West Africa and other parts of Africa: Shoe, bags and garments. So, we are looking for a way to deploy Turkish technology to see how we can automate what we were hitherto doing with our bare hands so that we can say with some modicum of exactitude how long it takes to produce xyz number of shoes and dress, bags, going forward. Once we can make that pronouncements, then our narratives will change”, he said.
He also stated that the State has some incentives for the people to make them succeed in the business.
“Yes, of course, the beautiful thing is that we have critical manpower. Our people are not completely ignorant of what it takes to make shoes and dresses. So, what they need is the technical input which we tend to get from Turkey now. What we expect is that Turkish people will teach us how to use these machines and produce on a large scale. The first incentive is that our story, trajectory of development has a socio-cultural bearing with what our people believe in.
“Our people believe in small family businesses but coming together, may be, in clusters as a cooperative to do the huge ones so that X+X will give you whatever output you are looking for at the end of the day and we are making sure that those people who are prepared to be part of this revolution will get financial incentives. We can stand in the gap between the small business man and the Bank of Industry, the small cooperative societies, a cluster of 2, 3, 4, 5, to 20 of garment makers and Bank of Industry to get what it takes to import from Turkey as it were, the requisite expertise and equipment to drive it.
“So, those who are prepared to key into this initiative will have full government support in terms of security, power, basic infrastructure like roads and even housing, going forward. Then we are also going to be involved in marketing because we are looking at tomorrow Made in Turkey/Made in Aba products exhibitions domiciled in Abia and elsewhere, maybe in Abuja, Lagos or even in Turkey. We want to export our skills and also learn from them”, Governor Ikpeazu said.
Also speaking, the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Hakan Cakil appreciated Nigerian business climate, saying it would be in the interest of both countries to cooperate.
He lauded the initiative between his country and Abia government, hoping that it would bear positive fruits.
“We are doing our best to encourage Turkish business investment in Nigeria. Nigeria is a very important country. We are making excellent cooperation.
“Abia state has rich natural resources and we have a very dynamic private sector in Turkey and the Turkish private sector has a growing interest in Nigeria. So, we hope that in the coming months or years, the Turkish private companies will invest in different areas in Abia.
“I hope tonight, we are starting a fruitful cooperation with Abia State. Between Abia State and government of Turkey. It is an important rich oil state with suitable climate with lots of incentives provided by the local administration. We hope that in the coming years, we shall see very fruitful cooperation between Turkey and Abia State”, he said.
The meeting attracted the presence of the three senators representing Abia State at the senate, Abia government officials and members of Turkish business community.