The reputable policy by the Abia State government to diversify its economy by encouraging immense private participation has provided fertile grounds for both domestic and foreign investments.
The policy, which is the only way out of the present economic squeeze; fuelled mainly by the decline of the allocation accruing to the states from the federation account allocation committee (FAAC), is gradually making our state, God’s Own State, the cynosure of all eyes in the national and international space. Let it be put on record that the poor revenue yield from Abuja is the aftermath of the drastic fall on oil and gas which Nigeria hugely exports to the international market.
Also, the drop on internally generated revenue (IGR), even before the Okezie Ikpeazu administration, equally excited the urge to look inwards and find a durable economic strategy to reinvigorate the sickening economy and give it the necessary boost to burgeon; hence the introduction of the Abia Investment House (AIH) by the government. This economic blueprint becomes a veritable technique to get the Abia economy on the fast rail as it is projected to stand on its feet and provide the government with the necessary financial muscle to meet up with its social obligations.
This, indeed, is line with the intellectual postulation of the Okezie Ikpeazu that “my concept about Abia is different from others…We must project Abia beyond the boundaries of Nigeria, looking beyond oil”.
At a time states are finding it difficult to pay salaries, provide infrastructure and run successful governments, any platform that throws up the compelling need to puncture the current economic downward slide of the economy which of course means thinking out of the box and not just the usual run-of-the-mill agenda is what will let Nigeria nay Abia out of the woods.
And this is what Okezie Victor Ikpeazu PhD, the fourth executive governor of Abia State had in mind when he established the Abia Investment House that was commissioned in February this year by no less a person than the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. A sprawling investment edifice, the Abia Investment House is a one stop shop; where all the processes of doing business in the state are rested.
The project is structured in such a manner that all the line ministries in the state have something to do with it: be them ministries of Housing, Works, Education, Trade and Commerce, Agriculture, Information etc. Suffice it to say that if one walks into this investment house with the sole aim and genuine motive of doing business of investing in the God’s Own State, by the time he walks out of the building, his business plan must have had a quantum leap while his chances of graciously smiling his way to his banks becomes a reality.
It sufficiently eliminates touting and appropriately brands Abia State as the undisputed capital of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The aim of the Abia Investment house is to promote, coordinate, propagate, encourage and monitor all investments in the state.
Like the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), the AIH also serves as a platform to provide necessary assistance and guidance for the establishment and operation of enterprises in the state. The officials are trained and indeed well equipped to initiate and support measures that enhances the investment climate in Abia State for both local and foreign investors. An intending investor to the state will get lectures like the investment opportunities that abound in the state and advice on availability of human capital, land space, chance or suitability of partners in joint venture projects etc.
In addition to its primary assignments, the Abia Investment House also identifies specific projects and invites interested investors to participate in those projects and equally initiates, organises and participates in promotional events like exhibitions and conferences and seminars aimed at stimulating the investment drive of the government.
The assignments are numerous, but let me quickly add that this one-stop house assists incoming and existing investors in Nigeria and beyond to have successful business in the state by providing support services to them. It also recommends appropriate remedies and inceptives for investors to government. Indeed, the AIH was structurally designed to promote industrialization of Abia State which will in turn nudge the Abia economy to stability.
A peep into Okezie Ikpeazu investment drive to Turkey and later the Republic of China reveals the potency of a determined chief executive of a state whose services have put Abia on the world map of economic development. Nigeria has come to appreciate the fact that Ikpeazu is the champion of micro-small-medium scale enterprises; however, Nigerians would be more grateful now that he is moving Abia industrial and fabricating ingenuity to the world stage.
His crusade in this regard has translated into accepting Aba as the nation’s capital for micro-small-medium enterprises. His visit to Turkey shortly after assuming office as the Abia fourth chief executive produced good dividends as over 100 artisans and businessmen and women taken to that European country to interface with their counterparts in Turkey came back better and properly equipped technically.
Similarly, in April this year, the Abia State governor left Nigeria for the Republic of China to attend the first ever Nigeria-China Governors Investment Forum in Guangzhou, China, where he wooed some Chinese investors to invest in Abia State as he informed them on the potentialities of Abia State as a virgin land for raw and human resources.
Ikpeazu told his hosts about the advantages of investing in Abia which include and not limited to: its location in the middle of seven states, a captive population of over 25 million people, 17 railway stations traversing the length and breadth of the state and which also has a proximity to four airports, three seaports and home to the largest MSME hub in sub Saharan Africa.
Indeed, the Abia Investment House is one the investment platforms the government under Okezie Ikpeazu has successfully put into operation since becoming governor. The Enyimba Free Trade zone is another investment drive the Ikpeazu administration has foisted to showcase Abia as the investment destination in the sub-Saharan Africa, a 9,000 hectares stretch of land, starting from Ugwunagbo LGA to Ukwa West LGA and down to Port Harcourt Rivers State, the Free Trade zone is another investment establishment ready to put the state in the highest level of economic boom.
Igbe, a former commissioner for Housing Abia State, writes from Umuahia.