By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—The national leadership of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, has described the road network in the Onitsha Road Industrial Layout, Owerri, as “awful, most regrettable and capable of squeezing life out of whatever remains of industrial life in Imo State”.
The national president of MAN, Dr. Frank S. U. Jacobs, raised the alarm yesterday in Owerri while flagging off the 31st Annual General Meeting of Imo/Abia Branch of MAN.
“I took a quick tour of the Industrial Layout today (yesterday) and what I saw baffled me. It is simply inaccessible and virtually all the industrial concerns in the area have either closed down or on the verge of closing shop. This is a sad commentary”, Dr. Jacobs said.
The MAN president further reasoned that there was “no way the private sector can help in absorbing the huge army of unemployed but employable citizens with this level of devastation in the Industrial Layout.”
He appealed to Governor Rochas Okorocha to “save the industrial concerns in the Layout by paving the road network.”
Continuing, Dr. Jacobs reminded the Federal Government that “the absence of a country-wide study to determine the possible impact, benefit and downside of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, AFCFTA, on the Nigerian economy in general and the manufacturing sector in particular is now a source of worry to MAN.”
He was also not happy that the National Office for Trade Negotiations, NOTN, version of the outcome of the stakeholders engagement and sensitisation, as reported in the media, “does not adequately reflect the overall proceedings and factual expressions at those meetings.”
Welcoming the participants earlier, the Imo/Abia Branch chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Mr. Nwabueze R. J. Anyanwu said he did not see why the South East and South South geo-political zones cannot attract a Public Private Partnership, PPP, in critical areas that will have multiplier effect to the industrial development of the zones.
“The South East and South South have been abandoned, in our view, by the Federal Government and as a rejected region,we cannot afford to reject ourselves,” Anyanwu said.
He further reasoned that it would be practically impossible for government to fully address the issues of unemployment, job creation and industrialisation, without any input from MAN.
“We have not seen any meaningful action by the Imo and Abia State governments to improve on the operating environment to attract investment in the area of industrialisation in the year under review,” Anyanwu said.