Abia rejigs economic plan to diversify revenue base
THE Abia State government said it is leveraging the assessed comparative strength in agriculture, craftsmanship and entrepreneurship development to diversify the state’s revenue sources.
The diversification of economic base, which has become states’ toast in recent times, may have been the result of plummeted federal allocations due to falling international crude oil prices.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Communications, Sam Hart, said the new economic blueprint of the state Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, is set to leverage on the popular cliché that “whatever you find anywhere can be made in Aba.”
According to him, the feasibility of rebuilding the state’s economy is anchored on the fact that it is strategically located in the middle of seven other states, which needs the varieties of produce from the state and reasons to stop by and do a business.
Sam noted that new administration is determined to be accountable by making business processes easier, as it is already setting up the state’s investment promotion agency, which is designed after the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).
Already, there is a one-stop investment centre, that boasts of offering documents, Memorandum of Understanding and Certificate of Occupancy for businesses that involve land acquisition in seven days.
“That is what we are offering on the table. We are shortening the process from going to different ministries by strengthening our policies to attract investors. In terms of security, the state is now largely peaceful,” he said.
Speaking on the state’s agriculture potential, he said that 70 to 80 per cent of Abians are farmers, being the fifth largest cocoa producer in Nigeria and now aiming to come back to the first, with the new initiatives.
“We do about 10,000 metric tonnes of cocoa yearly at the moment. Ondo is the first. We too are looking into some of the things they did and we are implementing them. We do cassava, yam, oil palm, cashew and rubber.
“We do export some of the things we make, but in little quantities, do not make any economic impact because it is not properly done. We can now grant farmers access to some of these mechanisms, give them high yield seedling and introduce new technologies. Some of these things I am saying have already started,” he said
The governor’s aid said a marketing board has already been established to ensure that these farmers after harvesting their crops get the needed infrastructure to move these produce to the market.
He noted that the key mandate of this board is to find markets for the state’s farmers, act as off-takers, sell to the identified markets, build silos, cold storages to preserve these items, which would encourage them to do better the next year.