Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –By FIDELIS EGUGBO :
The world has become a global village through the aid of technology, to the extent that as an event breaks, it is known by anyone who cares. Based on United Nations (UN) data, Nigeria, as at two days ago, has a population of 202, 685, 813 which is the equivalent of 2.61 per cent of the total population of the world. It is also an indisputable fact that our country is the most populous black nation in the world, with most people believing that out of every five blacks, three are from Nigeria.
With all the available human and material resources in the country, our people are still very poor, poor to the extent that there are strong indications that the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to end extreme poverty by the year 2030 is unlikely to be met. Recent statistics also show that Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with most population of poor people in the world, despite India halving a population seven times larger than Nigeria’s. Regrettably, more than 90 million Nigerians are estimated to be living in extreme poverty, said to be living on less than $1.90 (N684) a day.
This is certainly an unhealthy development that requires proactive measures to change the hand of the clock positively. In Delta, the Governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa promised the people, prosperity. On assumption of office in 2015, his administration initiated different wealth creation programmes which has assisted a lot of persons to becoming entrepreneurs. But, as a technocrat who has seen that the world is increasingly technologically-driven and convinced that Deltans will benefit more from the Stronger Delta vision, Governor Okowa established Kwale Industrial Park (KIP) which is expected to harness the rich human and natural resources for the further development of the state and its people. To develop such a Park, astute industrialists and renowned administrators are required to set up their businesses in the park.
If Nigeria is to leave the extreme poverty index, government, at all levels, and individuals, will have to think outside the box and tap into the global village setting to get it right. This prompted Governor to dare to take a leap that will give the state a boost in its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), create more jobs for the people, and make the state socio-economically buoyant and exemplary to other states with the “we can do it spirit.” He led a team of technocrats to China where the team met with Chinese investors in different meetings and engaged in road shows to showcase Delta and the opportunities that abound at the Kwale Industrial Park in particular.
One may be tempted to ask, why China? But, it is a fact that there is hardly any home in Nigeria today where Made-in-China products cannot be found. According to the United Nations, the current population of China is 1,435,647,033 equivalent to 18.59 per cent of the total world population. The World Bank claims that more than 850 million Chinese people have been lifted out of extreme poverty. China’s poverty rate fell from 88 percent in 1981 to 0.7 percent in 2015, as measured by the percentage of people living on the equivalent of $1.90 or less per day in 2011.
Evidently, Nigerians are not poor because of the population; there is something that the Chinese have done to leave the extreme poverty index and Governor Okowa has moved a replicate, establishing a symbiotic relationship with the Asia giant in a bid to reposition Delta State in the global map as an industrial hub.
According to the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr. Barry Gbe who spoke with our correspondent after the trip, “there is so much to our visit to China in the sense that Africa is fast becoming the new bride in the block. All foreign direct investors from Asia look now at Africa. From time immemorial, we have the natural resources, and today, we are having capacity, human capital. So, Africa is very attractive for investors to look at, and then looking back at Asia, China and the rest of the world, the kind of partnership from the West is quite different from the kind of partnership and business orientation we are getting from Asia, especially, China.
Furthermore, Gbe, who was on the entourage, said, “China is attractive, and for Delta State to be among the states going to China to seek investors is a welcome development. More so, they get cheap funds from government. So, no matter the kind of investment that you go for, there is an investor that will buy into it. We had road shows and we also had business meetings with prospective investors and soonest, you will see them flow into Delta State to physically see what we went there to sell.
“So, it was an eventful and strategic trip. The things we put on the table cannot be resisted by investors. We put up as much as US$10 million that early arrivals will tap into no matter how varied the intentions are. It is about setting up factories – tyre factories and others; we also looked at industries that deal in ethanol, ceramics and we definitely believe that the $10 million is an attractive incentive.
“We also went there and offered tax discount and other incentives such as repatriation of profits. We also promised to facilitate what it will take for ease of business. The location of the proposed Industrial Park is close to gas deposits; it is close to the market and it is an environment that is a catchment area for labour supply. Simply put, it is an investment-friendly area. Again, the man who led the team, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, gave investors confidence that this state means business,” he said.
Gbe continued , “we are so certain that the investors will come. We also got expression of interest commitment from many investors and entrepreneurs. The strategic approach to seeking investors by our Governor poses to be different from what we have had in the past. It is clear that the intentions and efforts of the number one citizen of Delta State is a success story.. His intention is well cut-out and success will come because the investors are interested in the stakes the Governor has offered.
“Do not forget that we have Nigerians who are also interested but, most of them are handicapped by the paucity of capital. In Economics, we talk about needs, we also talk about wants, but, one is backed by money. So, the likely investors that are indigenous are conscious of the fact that limited funds in Nigeria do not encourage entrepreneurs. Yes, we have Nigerians that are looking forward to participate but, the whole world knows that China is where you could get cheap funds and support from their government and ready to launch themselves in any part of the world and for Deltans, a lot can be benefitted from this drive.
“The Kwale Industrial Park will create employment and revamp the economy to the extent that future administrations will see the initiative by the Okowa administration as a worthy investment for the state. We are working to commence and make it attractive and buoyant and soon.. We appeal to Deltans, especially, communities around the park, to utilize and help sustain the facility. As a government, we are looking far beyond 2023 and we are so futuristic about our commitments,” he noted.
Recalling the recent visit to China, the commissioner stated that, “it was a strategic visit as all those who travelled to China have roles to play in making the Kwale Industrial Park functional. There were also key players from different agencies of federal and the state governments including the local government council Chairman, National and state Assembly officers were all involved in the trip.”
No doubt, the administration of Governor Okowa has shown commitment in positioning Delta systematically to be financially buoyant. Flooding of the cities and major towns as a result of increased rainfall are being tackled with multibillion naira storm drainage projects The Asaba International Airport has taking its correct position among topnotch airports of the world and the state Governor is constructing roads in different areas of the state which has earned him the sobriquet, Road Master. Employment is going on steadily in the civil service as vacant positions are being filled; Deltans are also being trained to acquire different skills and equipped to carry on with their trades.
Obviously too, the streets are looking friendlier, businesses are springing up and more importantly, the people are happier. No doubt, the Kwale Industrial Park will, provide the icing in the development strides of the governor; all that matters now is for all Deltans to think positive things, act positively and positive things will come to Delta and everyone will applaud Governor Okowa in the nearest future for his outstanding legacies.
“And no man, when he hath lighted a lamp, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but putteth it on a stand, that they that enter in may see the light. For nothing is hid, that shall not be made manifest; nor [anything] secret, that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he thinketh he hath.” Luke 8:16-18.