* As Tech C’tee on Foreign/Direct Investments tourscompany, Kings Flour, metering factories
The very moment Governor Udom Emmanuel approved the appointment of an 11-man Technical Committee on Foreign Direct Investments sometime in June, 2015, with a core mandate to, among others things, devise modalities to open up the state for legions of investments, the committee immediately swung into actions to deliver on its mandates, and as well, leave a clean bill of record for a lasting history.
The committee, in collaboration with other Government Agencies and Ministries, and of course, with the zeal and zest of Governor Udom to fulfil one of his unique selling points- to reduce Akwa Ibom State to an industrial site, has indeed accounted for its very essence of existence and much more, with a successful narrative to its credit.
All this is to the admiration of the good people of Akwa Ibom State and sadly, to the surprise of pundits who are doubting the possibility of having industries come into the state and start production or operations, if you will, in years not more than three. This is a feat unparalleled in any known history of development.
To further advance the realisation of its mandates, the chairman of the committee, Mr. Gabriel Ukpeh, an internationally celebrated auditor who is also a partner and Risk Quality Leader for Africa at Price Water House Power, PWC, on Wednesday, led a team of journalists to a few out of many industries Gov. Udom has established in the state since inception; to avail them of the opportunity to see things for themselves and afterwards, go out there and interface with the public of the realities of the industries in the state the media way.
Mr. Ukpeh may not pass as a politician in practice, but certainly, he can pass as an investment -knowledgeable and industries -connected gentleman who has shown passion in providing a veritable platform for the public to obtain first-hand information about the workings of his committee, visa-vis industrialisation.
The first industry journalists visited was the Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company Ltd in Awa, ONNA local government area.
Manager of the company, Mr. Zubyir Gulabi made a startling revelation when he said the company produces 7,500 syringes daily, with plans underway to hit 1 million next year.
According to him, the syringes and needles are used in all hospitals and clinics across the country, owing to their certification by relevant agencies as the best in Africa.
Apart from being given a thump up as the best in Africa, the state-of-the-art facilities, the processes of manufacturing the syringes ranging from production, primary packaging, secondary packaging, sterilisation, quality control mechanism, quarantine method, among others, according to Mr. Gulabi, are conformed to world best practice.
In addition, the syringes are of types: 2 mils, 5 mills and 10 mills, a feat that has added to its distinction. Very enlightening you would say.
Enquiry into the number of employees revealed that, out of 155 employees, over 70% of them are indigenes of the area, while the remaining percentage comes from other parts of the state.
Some of the employees, as we learnt, had undergone training abroad to sharpen their knowledge on the job. Esther Gregory who is an employee and an indigene of the area confirmed this in an interaction to newsmen.
The team later went to the second industry known as the Kings Flour Mill, popularly called the AK-Kings. The company which is still being constructed, will be test -run in January next year, but operations are expected to commence in May the same year.
The company, as we gathered, when operational, will produce 500 tones a day. The magnificent edifice that stands imposingly in the serene environment of Ukat/Mkpok village will be the first of its kind in Africa, as machines that will do the wonders of production are being purchased in a hurry.
The manager of the company, Mr. Gulabi disclosed that, the company will have the capacity to create more than 150 jobs for the army of unemployed youths in state and of course, boosting the economic base of the state is no overstatement. This is revealing, you would want to say.
The third company on the line of visit is the Metering Solutions Manufacturing Services LTD., located in a beautiful environment of Awangku village, Onna L.G.A. The company was inaugurated by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo on the 23th September, 2017, but had started production sometime in July of the same year.
Interestingly, The company produces and assembles meters, produces plastic products and meter boxes. Our enquiry revealed that about 1,300 boxes are produced daily. These boxes can be sold to certified companies. What really struck the team breathless was the fact that all the units had their staff working professionally, you don’t want to doubt.
The general manager, Mr. Tolulope Ogunkolade who served as a tour guide took the team to units such as Initial Assembly, Head Test, Operations, Aging Lab., etc. and machines like Meter Test, Dust Test, High Temperature Test, among others were seen clicking and giving sounds like a calculated rhythm of a melodious song.
It might interest the reading public to know that the company has up to 150 employees, 80% of which are indigenes of the state. Some of the employees, The GM disclosed, Have undergone training outside Nigeria.
Curiosity brought the question as to why the meters produced are not sold or distributed to electricity consumers, if not for those outside the state, those within the state.
The GM told journalists that the company cannot sell directly to consumers in view of certain regulatory framework in place.
Rather, the meters must pass through the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company for consumers to access. A long process, isn’t it?
It was further gathered that 60%of the raw materials are sourced locally, while the remaining 40% are imported.
However, The GM assured that plans are on to source for the materials from P.H. which will reduce the delay often associated with importation.
It is mind-blowing to place on records that, since its inception, many institutions, individuals, world class media houses, among others have visited the company to ascertain its reality and functionality alike, as revealed by the CEO of the company, Mr.Adeniyi Adebisi.
For these visitors, he stated, the company is too real for anyone to deny and too believable for political gimmicks.
On completion of such an eye-opening tour, newsmen and every other team member were utterly thrilled with what they saw.
Consequently, emotions- laden speeches in the form of praises flowed almost ceaselessly like a strategic waterfall.
This quickly reminded the team of the saying that “he who is not informed, is certainly deformed”. It was indeed an experience worthy of many recounts. Gov. Udom is indeed an industrialiser extra-ordinaire