With the knowledge that, Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, offer a large scale of employment opportunities to the citizenry, Governor Udom Emmanuel has continued to plough huge resources into the development of the sector in the State.
To this end, the Governor has ensured that a workable database on SMEs is produced to guide the planning and development processes of viable and budding Small and Medium entrepreneurs doing businesses in Akwa Ibom.
In this regard,11,990 SMEs have so far been registered within the first quarter of 2021 with uyo senatorial district having 40%, Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District 33% and Eket Senatorial District has 28%.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong made these known earlier today in the Conference room of the Ministry, while addressing the team leader, faculty members and participants of the Strategic Management and Policy Studies Course 3/2020 from the Nigerian Army Resource Center, Abuja, who are on a study tour of the state.
Comrade Ini Ememobong stated that, Governor Udom Emmanuel, being fully aware of the fact that, the corporate existence of the society depends on the vibrancy of SMEs, has put in place policies and programmes to boost the operations of small and medium business ventures catalyzing the State economy.
The State Information helmsman who was speaking on the theme – “Policies for Sustainable Growth and Survival of SMEs in Nigeria”, emphasized that, in addition to placing SMEs on the top burner of his administration as one of the major pillars of his Eight – Point Completion Agenda, Governor Udom Emmanuel has mapped out programmes to grow the sector such as the Ibom 3,000 Project, My Entrepreneurial Goal Programme, MEGP and the 2Billion Naira interest free loan to traders and SMEs.
Others are: vocational training for youths in various sectors, including agriculture, power and ICT, training of youths in installation and repairs of renewable energy equipment, provision of fishing equipment to groups in coastal communities as well as expansion and operation of Ibom Tropicana mall to boost retail trade and enhance its value chain opportunities.
The State Spokesperson who said, Governor Emmanuel is bringing his cognet business experience in the banking and corporate world into governance, reiterated that, the upcoming N4.6bn Fertilizer/ammonia plant project and the Oil and gas Free Trade zone approved for the state, which covers 5 LGAs are all opportunities opened to the state for the development of SMEs.
Reiterating that, Governor Udom Emmanuel is building an ecosystem for SMEs to strive, the Information Commissioner said, apart from being the first Governor in Akwa Ibom to build industries across the state, Governor Udom Emmanuel has at the moment bring on stream over 21 Industries with sustainable plans to outlive the administration and other governments to come.
He expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for the bailout funds that was extended to states to assuage the effects of the lockeddown, emphasising that, the funds were meant to re-energise the economy which by extension aided the reactivation of SMEs across states of the Federation.
Comrade Ememobong urged the visiting team to do all in its power to dissuade the Federal government from embarking on another Lockdown, as it is very detrimental to the growth of the economy with SMEs as the most vulnerable sector.
While lauding the theme of the study tour, the State Spokesperson commended the visiting team for looking away from armament and arms to critically assess the causes of unrest and insecurity which are; unemployment, lack of training and empowerment and non engagement of youths in gainful businesses and ventures.
Ememobong opined that, when youths are gainfully employed and given the right training in schools to practicalize businesses and other ventures rather than concentrate on theoretical aspects, it will be to the best interest of the society and called for a change in schools curriculum to bring in more of practical work.
The team leader Maj. Gen. JO Akomolafe had said, they were in the Ministry as part of their study tour of the state to assist them carry out research to bridge the knowledge gap between theory and practice on the theme of the study tour, as a part of their curriculum towards the award of Masters Degree in the college.
Major General Akomolafe had said, the team which is made up of high ranking officers of the Military and other strategic security agencies and departments of government have the highest concentration of Army Generals was very delighted at the warm reception accorded them by the Ministry right from arrival.
In their seperate speeches, faculty members of the team, Dr. Okey Ikechukwu, Brigadier General U. M. Bello and Mr. Adeola Ogunseye, expressed appreciation at the serenity of the capital city and the general peaceful ambience of the state and commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for investing in the growth of SMEs in the state, which is one sure way of stemming youth unrest and fighting insecurity in the state.
They acknowledged the careful appointment of officials into government political offices in the state by the Governor, describing them as round pegs in round holes and commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for vigorously pushing his Industrialization drive as manifested in the Jubilee Syringe, Flour mill and Ibom Power Plant.
In a vote of thanks, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Inyang Jameson, expressed thanks to the visiting team for the sentiments and encomium poured on the state Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel and the Ministry of Information and Strategy.
Highlights of the event were the presentation of a plaque and publications by the representative of the Commandant of the Nigerian Army Resource centre, Abuja to the Commissioner as well as the presentation of Publications of the Ministry to the team lead by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong.