By Mike Onoja
History is filled with instances where nations revived their economies with bold ideas, taken on by well-marshaled, carefully crafted and patiently executed plans. Through its enlightened interventionist policies, a government must bring succour to teeming millions.
Two countries’ cases are great examples are the United States during the era of President Herbert Hoover which set up the President’s Organization on Unemployment Relief (POUR) to tackle unemployment and Germany which also fought unemployment during the quiet ascent of the Nazis in the thirties.
A fresh case is Governor Udom Emmanuel in Akwa Ibom State.
The administration of Governor Godswill Akpabio gave Akwa Ibom State key fundamental infrastructure it can leverage on in this 21st century. Emmanuel saw this and was challenged to give much attention to more concentrated infrastructural development coupled with economic empowerment to his people through well thought-out economic policies. With the mandate of constitutional rule given him, he put in motion concrete and the deliberate economic empowerment policies for the entire state, not just for certain political elite of the society.
The governor’s economic empowerment policies have formed an integral part of his administration in the last three years and he has aligned this with several focused legislative and policy decisions aimed at creating conducive environment for economic empowerment in Akwa Ibom state. This economic policy is built upon the twin pillars of wealth creation through industrialization, geared towards increasing the level of participation in the mainstream economy through job creation, employment creation and enterprise development. He is working to deliberately empower the Akwa Ibom people economically.
The economy of Africa consists basically of trade, industry, agriculture, human resources and services. What Governor Emmanuel is pursuing are avenues where all these can be exploited and utilized to the full for the economic empowerment of the greater mass of Akwa Ibom people. Economic empowerment necessarily entails improvement of community cohesiveness and co-existence. People can make more money, people can afford to buy more. There is increase in income, families are empowered and there is a corresponding rise in spending. Job opportunities are increased and there is further development of industries.
Emmanuel adopted most of his economic projects as pure business. This is particularly true in the agriculture sector. He introduced a programme to revolutionise cocoa production in the state through a unique scheme. He started with the use of consultants to help maintain the state’s privately-owned 26,000 hectares of cocoa.
The consultants took over the farms for four weeks to do their work and when the owners returned they discovered their trees had taken a new lease, most dying trees were budding. People called this magic. But it was really business. A mill with the latest technology in processing to maintain the flavor of the cocoa is part of this scheme.
The same kind of assistance was provided for palm trees and corn farmers. He started an out-grower scheme where the state government provided freely improved seeds to replace all stock of old seeds. He introduced two planting seasons in a year so that production can be doubled. The scheme is already bearing fruits.
In rice production, he started a demonstration of 10,000 hectares for private bodies. This process will include a mill to process the harvest
To help develop its economy, Emmanuel is relying on investment from other nations, foreign private firms and economically empowered Akwa Ibom people in the Diaspora, to help achieve his long-term economic empowerment goals. For this reason, he has made policies encouraging Foreign Direct Investment. Foreign Direct Investment will directly contribute to projects that create jobs and that develop the infrastructure and industry necessary to grow the economy.
Godswill Akpabio gave Akwa Ibom State iconic development. Emmanuel is working on more massive things that will benefit the lot of the people and empower them.
The governor needs all the support of Akwa Abasi Ibom to help harness the state’s abundant resources for their own benefict. He has boldly refused to be teleguided and remote-controlled by outside forces who have their eyes full of lust for the state resources. He refused a system of control where the treasury of Akwa Ibom people is controlled from outside the state and outsiders will be the main beneficiaries. He has been largely empowering people of Akwa Ibom state.
Akwa Ibom and its resources must belong to only to its people and to empower them. It must not be given to power-hungry politicians who will annex the state to their masters and drain the state’ resources.
*Onoja is a public affairs analyst resident in Uyo