Emmanuel Mgbeahuruike, in this report, examines the industrialisation plans of the Imo State governor, Emeka Ihedioha
The application of Western technology to the developmental process of developing nations has proven to be not only an essential catalyst but as veritable pillar.
Apparently conscious of this, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and incumbent governor of Imo State, prior to his inauguration on May 29, this year embarked on economic and diplomatic visits to the United Kingdom and Germany.
While there, the governor interacted with development /investment partners and donor agencies. He also met with the World Bank, the French Development Bank (AFD), the UK Department for International Development and the German Embassy who all expressed, their willingness to partner with his administration to get the Eastern Heartland (Imo State) out of the woods and make it the pearl of the south-east.
Not a few indigenes of the state are worried that it, over the years, did not leveraged on multi-lateral development assistance on account of its inability to comply with some basic requirements such as payment of counterpart funding and lack of transparency in the administrative process.
Interestingly, the positive perception of the Rebuild Imo government of Chief Emeka Ihedioha has attracted the interest of International Development partners in partnering with the state to achieve its strategic development plan.
Not done yet, the government also led a small team of government officials and private sector entrepreneurs on an investment trip to Russia where he held meetings with the AfriExim Bank - the leading pan-African trade financial Institution that had since pledged support in the form of a robust credit line for prospective investors in the state.
That the state under the leadership of Ihedioha is now being viewed as open and good for business is evidenced on the visit of a team of prospective investors to the Imo modern poultry, Avutu, Obowo council area who showed keen interest to revamp the project established by the late Chief Sam Mbakwe administration.
There is no doubt that if fully operational, the poultry would provide over 2, 000 jobs, catalyse local economic growth create job opportunity ties for the teeming unemployed graduates, increase the revenue of the state.
To add impetus to his industrialisation drive, the governor has engaged the transmission company of Nigeria and the Enugu Electricity Distribution company to complete the Oguta 33KV line from Egbu which is expected to be completed in no distant time.
This will unquestionably supply reliable electricity to the Oguta environs while freeing the old Oguta 33kV line to make available more electricity for the new Owerri areas.
The governor is emphatic that "only a reliable and adequate power supply will guarantee the industrialisation agenda of our government through our intervention, further work has commenced at the 132 and 33 KVA, such stations located at Ideato & Aboh Mbaise respectively with a view to completing them by the end of this year," the governor was quoted as saying.
It is equally gratifying that the state government has set up a power and Rural Electrification Agenda (aka 1-POREA) to evolve strategies to remove barriers to adequate exploitation of the power generation potentials.
The state government has also empowered I-POREA to take advantage of the State's supply to some areas of the state where they were non existent in the last seven to eight years.
This included the replacement of 79 failed transformation across the state, completion of electricity supply to Inyishi Aluminum Extrusion Company and its environs as well as the Oguta 33KV line electricity project.
Lamenting that for many years now, the state had been the ugly bride in the area of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country, the governor disclosed that his administration has designed a framework for implementing the necessary reforms to improve the position of the state on the World Bank Ease of doing business ranking.
Furthermore, the government has concluded plans to inaugurate the Imo State Enabling Business Environment Council (ISEBEC) which is expected to draw up, implement and oversee agenda for business process reforms.
To crown it all, the governor, conscious of the indispensability of effective and all season motorable road network has awarded contracts for the construction of 14 critical roads across the state.
These include: Naze Federal Polytechnic Road, Ihiagwa-Obinze road, Ahiara Junction Okpala Road Aba Branch Ahiara Junction road and the Imo State Teaching Hospital Road, the Umuowa Old Orlu Road MCC -Toronto Road, Mgbidi Oguta Road, Ogwoghoranya, Avutu with a spur at Avutu Poultry farm Road and the Douglas- Emmanuel College -Naze Junction road.
Also slated for reconstruction are the Assumpta Port Harcourt Road, Okigwe Okpara Road- police station, Road, control post world Bank-Umuguma Road, Okigwe Road - IMSU Bishop Court Roundabout Road and the Concorde Bondevard Ring Road-Zuma-PH Road with a flag-off of these projects.
In fulfillment of his promise to address the dilapidated infrastructure in the state, with a view to ensuring economic development, Ihedioha flagged off the construction of 81km urban roads project worth N23.4b in the state
This is as the governor has promised that his administration would not consider geographical divisions while addressing the developmental needs of the state.
The governor stated this while performing the flag-off of the projects, "said part of his administration's cardinal agenda is to run a one-stop state, where democracy dividends will be evenly distributed across the 27 local government areas of the state".
Others are Control-Post/World Bank; Ahiara Junction/Okpala; IMSU/Bishop's Court; Okigwe Town/St. Mary's Catholic Church, MCC/Toronto Junction, Aba Branch/Ahiara Junction, Concorde/Zuma/Port Harcourt, among others.
The governor also flagged off the reconstruction of Government Technical College, Okporo, Orlu, Government Technical College, Owerri, Dan Anyiam Stadium and Grasshopper International Handball Stadium, Owerri.
"Today, we are commencing construction of urban roads and comprehensive roads rehabilitation across the state to address the sorry state of our roads. We have tried to provide palliative measures on the roads ranging from the desilting of drainages to address the perennial flooding to filling the failed portions.
"We have deliberately chosen state roads while we have also commenced discussion with the federal government for the federal roads including Owerri/Orlu/Akokwa Road," he went further to say.
"In order to ensure that a good job is done and to guarantee the durability of the project, painstaking processes were observed. The process of getting to this point was transparent and followed due process. All these were done to ensure not just quality assurance but value for money.
"It is significant again that we are flagging off this project in Orlu Zone. We are running a one stop state. For us all, Imo belongs to Imo people and geographical divisions have nothing to do with our unity as a people."
Ihedioha gave an assurance that the construction of both the government technical colleges, and the stadium would meet the international standards to boast technical education and sports development in the state.
The governor also charged the contractors handling the projects to deliver to specifications and guarantee their durability, pointing out that his administration is committed to providing durable projects.
Speaking at the flag-off of the Assumpta roundabout - Port Harcourt road project, the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna commended the governor for his achievements and urged him to ensure that the projects are supervised for quality delivery.
In their remarks, the state Commissioner for Works, Engr. Ben Ekwueme, Special Adviser to the governor on Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Hon. Oliver Enwerenem, , Chairman, Imo State Sports Commission, Chief Fan Ndubuoke, and top notch traditional rulers in the state hailed the governor on the projects.
Ekwueme assured on behalf of the contractors that the project would enjoy life span of 15 to 20 years when completed, adding that all would be delivered fully between 12 to 18 months of the commencement.
The above measures not withstanding governor Ihedioha has begun to mobilizes communities in the state for Agricultural Revolution.
This, the governor intends to achieve by unveiling an Agricultural Revolution programme with a target of 500 million palm trees in the next 5 years.
Already, the government has engaged the services of some consultants to install an agricultural road map for the state, just as a world class technical partners had similarly been engaged to assist re-position the multi million Naira Ada Palm Nigeria Ltd Ohaji.
Uche Odozor, Senior Special Assistant (Agricultural Development) to the governor disclosed this while briefing newsmen in his office.
Odozor who identified agriculture as the key and pivotal pillar of the nation's economy with core direct impact areas as food security, employment, foreign exchange earnings, poverty reduction and raw materials for industry regretted that in spite of this obvious fact, the sector had been literally dead for dose a decade in the state.
"Farm productivity has simply stagnated in the last 8 years and what we have now mostly are poor farmers producing only what they can eat with small families and this reality has had horrendous impact on the economy and on the life style of the people as a whole.
"His Excellency, the governor of Imo State's position on this is that of a revolutionary and aggressive intelligent approach to the situation so that speedy recovery can happen for the benefit of our people".
According to him, the proposed agricultural revolution would demand data capturing of the people across the 27 LGAs of the state within the next one month, adding that at least 500,000 individuals would be needed in the first tranche.
He explained that the central objectives of this governments agricultural policy is to increase agricultural productivity by promoting technical progress and by ensuring the rational development of agricultural production and the optimum utilisation of the factors of production with particular emphasis on labour, ensure a rapid improvement in the standard of living for the agricultural community by increasing the individual earnings of persons engaged in agriculture, assure the availability of supplies and also ensure that supplies reach the consumers at reasonable prices.
Odozor disclosed that the state government is currently focused on riving in this initiative in the areas of oil palm, ginger, cassava, soya beans, cashew pig farming, Beeking, Rice, maize, Tilapia, watermelon, cucumber, Aqua culture, mushroom, fresh vegetables, pineapples Dairy farming, Goat farming, shea butter business, Isabella grape, and Agro based e-commerce.
He added "everything we do will be based on inclusive agriculture productivity growth, improved nutritional outcomes, enhanced livelihood for people as well as foreign exchange income earning capacity".
Others he said were: youth empowerment, climate smart agriculture, using less land to produce more food and preservation of land and soil saying "we will check consistently that all our strategies align with these core guidelines. People must be empowered and removed from poverty. Wealth must be created in communities, food must be amply available for local consumption and for export to other communities and aboard for foreign exchange earnings. Agriculture must once again become the core pillar and pride of our economy," he concluded.