By Desmond Ibe
DUBAI in the United Arab Emirate is today unarguably one of the world’s wonders and a testimony to what visionary leaders could do to lift the fortunes of their nations.
A complete desert, with no rain at all, all year round, Dubai is today a haven for tourists and businessmen from all over the world, thanks to Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who chose to change the fortunes of his people.
To accomplish his aim, he surrounded himself with the best and the brightest. In a book titled, Rashid’s Legacy, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Maktoum described Saeed thus;“He ruled Dubai from 1958 to 1990, taking his city –state from a relative backwater and laying foundations for the 21st century.’’
When Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed died, the United Nations observed a minute of silence in his honour. This was a leader who began his reign when the people he was ruling knew nothing about a body called the UN. Truly, anyone who visits Dubai today would acknowledge that Sheikh Saeed worked hard for his people. He was a leader to be proud of.
He laid the foundation for wealth and abundance for his people. Truly, with the ultra-modern skyscrapers in Dubai, it would be hard to imagine that it was once a mud-walled city with people riding on camels and living in the desert. No doubt, the story of Dubai is a pointer to what can be accomplished by great minds in any society.
Back home in Nigeria, one of the state governors trying to lay a solid foundation for industrialisation of their states is Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State. The governor is taking giant strides to turn the oil rich state to an industrial haven.
As a thorough bred technocrat, the governor obviously knows the implication of an absolute dependence on oil, hence the drive to put the state on a path of self sufficiency. A lot of people have acknowledged his efforts and hope he would leave a solid legacy that can be built upon in the future for the oil rich state.
Indeed, it is difficult not to recognise the giant strides of Emmanuel in the last three years. Even the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo publicly acknowledged this during the inauguration of the needle factory in the state a few years back. The Vice President who was visibly impressed by the governor’s foresight in attracting the project to the state had said: “You are one of the cleverest people I’ve ever come across, “ describing the syringe factory as a landmark project, not only for Akwa Ibom but also Nigeria.
Also, testifying to the sagacity and brilliance of Emmanuel, the Chairman of Syringe and Needle Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, SNMAN, and Managing Director, JSM Company Limited, Zubeyir Gulabi,, in a newspaper article once said, “ Africa is blessed with a lot of wealthy people, well educated and knowledgeable individuals scattered all over the world. One of the examples of these great leaders is Udom.
When you discuss with him, he discusses as a technocrat. He gives you the figures, not just support; he shares your problem with you. And this is the greatest encouragement we need to invest everything we have in Akwa Ibom.’’
The governor anchors his vision on a five point-agenda of wealth creation, economic/political inclusion, poverty alleviation, infrastructure consolidation and job creation. By encouraging private sector participation in lifting the state’s economy, the governor has done a lot to lay the foundation for a strong economy for the state.
The N15billion Jubilee Syringe company in Onna Local Government area of the state is the largest syringe manufacturing company in the entire African continent according to experts. It is expected to produce 700,000 syringes daily and over 350 million syringes yearly.
Apart from what Nigeria as a whole stands to gain from such huge project, syringe business is a major commerce across the world. Disposable syringes are the most consumed medical services in the world and according to Transparency Market Research, the global disposable syringe market is expected to reach $7.5billion (N2.6trillion) in 2022.
Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company hopes to take 500 Nigerian youths off the congested labour market, with further commitment to grow the numbers. Investments in the syringe industry alone, according to Gulabi, can boost the nation’s economy by about 50 per cent, if the Federal Government implements the medical devices industry policy meant to enhance the sector.
Although the initiative is a 100 per cent privately driven investment, investors have said Akwa Ibom State has what it takes to attract investment to the country. Apart from the encouragement from the state government, investors said the state is the safest place in the country in terms of security. While it might look far away from the market, the good policies of the government are giving investors the confidence to see it as the best location to do business.
Beyond the needle factory, the government has encouraged the setting up of more industries in the state in order to open up the state for inflow of Foreign Direct Investments and create more jobs for the people. For example, the Toothpick and Pencil factories in the state are currently producing over 15,000kg toothpick and 20,000 pencils in every eight hours of production.
By so doing, the governor has created direct employment for many youths and businesses for many others who indirectly benefit from the industries in the state. These include bamboo suppliers, newspapers suppliers, gum distributors and diesel suppliers.
The metering project is described as Africa’s first ever Electric Metering Industry. It is located in ONNA Local Government Area of the state. It was done to reduce high cost of electricity tariff and encourage the springing up of micro, small and medium scale businesses in every nook and cranny of the state.
Just recently, the Managing Director of 4Power Consortium Limited, Mr. Matthew Edevbie, said the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company will distribute 150,000 meters to its existing consumers. This is made possible by the governor’s metering project.
Also, to the governor’s credit, an agreement was signed with a foreign firm to revive the abandoned Ibom Science project started in 2006 by former Governor Victor Attah which was abandoned.
The governor recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SERGE Capital Investment to resuscitate the moribund multi-billion project in the state.
Development comes by policies and from all indications, Governor Emmanuel seems to have good policies for sustainable development.