The former Commissioner for Industry and Investment in Akwa Ibom, Mr Emmanuel Enoidem, says unstable FOREX has stalled the takeoff of vehicle assembly plant in the state.
Enoidem said this on Tuesday in Uyo while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the achievements of Gov Udom Emmanuel in the past two years.
The governor had in July 2015 laid the foundation for the construction of vehicle assembly plant in Itu Local Government Area of the state.
The automobile assembly plant was undertaken by the state government in partnership with an Israeli company, MIMSHAC Merkavim Transportation Technologies.
The project had the components of manpower development, building of a training school and the manufacturing of luxury buses, utility vehicles, ambulances and fire trucks in the state.
But almost two years after the foundation stone laying ceremony, nothing is happening at the site and the place is overgrown with weeds.
Enoidem, who was the industry commissioner at the conception of the project, said that it was impossible for foreign partners to come given the unpredictable state of foreign exchange in Nigeria.
“At the time we went to Israel and met with the vehicle manufacturers, exchange rate was about N200 a dollar but this jumped shortly to N400.
“There is no foreign investor that will come to Nigeria because of volatile exchange rate.
“We went to Romania to bring manufacturer of Low Energy Display (LED) electric bulbs, the investors had to stay back because of foreign exchange instability,” Enoidem said.
The former commissioner however said that in spite of the challenge of foreign exchange, the state governor had not derailed from his electioneering promises.
“Gov Udom Emmanuel is on track with his five point-agenda of job creation, poverty eradication, infrastructure consolidation, industrialisation and political inclusiveness.
“He is building road infrastructure in places like Ini and Ikono local government areas that were not touched. Other places are Ika, Etinan, Onna, Oruk-Anam and Oron.
“The governor is determined that Akwa Ibom must be industrialised. Today, the biggest syringe producing factory in Africa with production capacity of 350 million units annually is coming to Akwa Ibom.
“The metering manufacturing company, the pencil and toothpicks company, all these are coming on stream,” Enoidem said.
He said that the state government had a lofty plan to establish industrial park spanning four local government areas of Ikot Abasi, Eastern-Obolo, Mkpat-Enin and Onna.
Enoidem said that the Ibom Deep Seaport project was still on course, adding that the seaport was a component of the envisaged Ibom Industrial City.
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The former commissioner disclosed that a site had been acquired in Ikwe in Onna Local Government Area by Nigerian Local Content Development Commission to build an industrial park.
He gave the assurance that most of the projects would be functional before the governor completes his first term in office in 2019.