Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, has dedicated his 2018 AIT Outstanding Performance in Industrialization and Infrastructural Development award, to shoemakers, tailors and other artisans in Aba, the commercial capital of Abia State.
Speaking after receiving the award at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Abuja on Saturday, Ikpeazu said the award is a testimony to hard-work and transparent leadership which his administration has brought to bear on the state.
He also stressed that political stability and unity in the state played major roles in the industrialization and infrastructural development by his administration, adding that the Enyimba Economic City, which is coming to reality soonest will make Abia State truly the SMEs capital of not just Nigeria, but also Africa.
According to the governor, the Enyimba Economic City, which will fully industrialize the state, has the capacity to create 700,000 jobs over a period of 10 years.
His words: “This award from AIT is a testimony to the hard work and ingenuity of the Abia man, particularly the never-say-die spirit of Aba shoemakers, tailors and artisans who have the capacities to make anything from nothing.
“We thank AIT for this recognition. And I dedicate this award to the Aba shoemakers, tailors and artisans who are already conquering the world through the made-in-Aba campaign.
“We have done much in the area of infrastructural development of our state since 2015, particularly Aba, but we are not yet where we want to be, but we will certainly get there with the support of Abia people. We also owe our achievements to the political stability and unity in the state.
“Abia is at the confluence of South-South and South-East states and it gives us an advantage of a huge catchment population in terms of trade and commerce. People coming from Akwa Ibom are in Aba within 30 minutes. It is the same with those coming from Umuahia, Port Harcourt and Owerri. People from Enugu, in an hour 30 minutes are here. People from Ebonyi can come into Abia within the same stipulated time. So all of that created the huge business population around Aba.”
“So, taking up all of that into analysis we came up with 5 points agenda which is five pillars driven by some enablers. Those pillars are trade and commerce, oil and gas, agriculture, education and SME development driven with enablers.”
Speaking further on the Enyimba Economic City, Governor Ikpeazu said: “The Enyimba Economic City is our flagship project and our desire is to create an Abia Economy without oil because the oil is drying up.
“The Enyimba Economic City is a private sector driven initiative. We want a private sector business that would be 80% controlled by Abia people.
“Our growth trajectory must project our socio-cultural values. We are great artisans, we have great initiatives coupled with our ingenuity. I am happy that about 700,000 to 1 million jobs would be created between now and the next 10 years at the Enyimba Economic City. That is the only way to bring down the rate of crime. If we continue to pursue criminals without providing jobs we will only be building high walls.
“Our vision is to create a manufacturing hub in Africa. The Enyimba Economic City has provided the entire Igbo race access to seaport. Our best bite was to create an economic hub that would have access to the city.
“To be specific, we had to go to Singapore to get the best hands to develop the Enyimba Economic City sitting on 9,200 hectares of land, covering three local government areas between Aba and Port Harcourt.
“A few months ago, the federal government keyed into the Enyimba Economic City, it is expected that we will start with 11 anchor companies at the City. As I speak, a garment factory, Volkswagen, 7 of the 11 target anchor companies would be there at the ground breaking ceremony.
“One of the investors at the economic city is paying off geometric for the over $500bn power project. So the city would be the first to have uninterrupted power supply in Abia. The future of the Enyimba Economic City is really looking very bright.”
Wife of the Governor, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, wife of the Deputy Governor, Lady Vivian Udo Oko Chukwu, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Senator Theodore Orji, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, former Senate President, Senator Adolphus Wabara, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, former Minister and National Organising Secretary of the PDP, Col Austin Akobundu (rtd), members of the state executive council, aides of the governor, party leaders, frontline Traditional rulers in the state, among other dignitaries from the state, accompanied the governor to receive the award.