Surely, for any state or nation to prosper, the foremost factor to be considered is peace. The most prosperous nations in the world today are nations that are sitting comfortably above others on the peace index.
And this is not surprising because no investor, local or foreign, would want to invest in an atmosphere of rancour, political instability or social uncertainty.
It surely makes no sense at all to do that. Promoting and maintaining peace in any location has a lot to do with the peaceful mien, persevering and considerate disposition, and the political will of the leader of such a locality to always put the people first far above his personal feelings and interests and deal decisively with criminal elements according to the law.
In spite of all the undeserving acerbic attacks thrown his way by some misguided and overzealous political elements in the state in their futile bid to provoke him into taking steps that might lead to turning the State into a political battlefield of some sorts, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has deliberately chosen to ignore the self-appointed traducers and naysayers, choosing instead to focus on his work knowing full well that it is only results that can silence insults. And results he has been churning out in droves.
For example, despite its well acknowledged lean resources, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has lifted Abia to greater heights that the State now enjoys very high ratings in critical areas of the economy and human development index.
For the last quarter of 2018 alone, with an inflow of a whopping $1.2bn (representing 23%), Abia State was officially rated as the State with the highest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) only after Abuja ($2.5bn representing 42%) and Lagos ($1.6bn representing 30%). All the other states of the federation ranked between zero and 0.2%.
In the Ease of Doing Business ranking for the same period, the World Bank ranked Abia among the five states with the most impressive strides in implementing investment-friendly policies. The other states were Kaduna, Lagos, Enugu and Anambra.
The reasons for these enviable feats are simple. The Ikpeazu administration has put in place mouthwatering offers for potential investors who wish to establish business in the state, and these offers are already attracting discerning investors globally.
The following are some of the business incentives already put in place by the Ikpeazu government:
100% waiver on all levies and dues (excluding user fees and PAYE) for new investment in education not less than Five Hundred Million Naira (N500,000,000.00) in verified value with a workforce of not less than 100 persons. Waiver applies for 5 years from date of approval.
100% waiver on all levies and dues (excluding user fees and PAYE) for new investment in manufacturing not less than Five Hundred Million Naira (N500,000,000.00) in verified value with a workforce of not less than 50 persons. Waiver applies for 5 years from date of approval.
100% waiver on all levies and dues (excluding user fees and PAYE) for new investment in healthcare not less than Five Hundred Million Naira (N500,000,000.00) in verified value with a workforce of not less than 20. Waiver applies for 5 years from date of approval.
50% waiver on all levies and dues (excluding user fees and PAYE) for new investment in hospitality not less than Three Hundred Million Naira (N300,000,000.00) in verified value with a workforce of not less than 20. Waiver applies for 5 years from date of approval.
100% waiver on all levies and dues (excluding user fees and PAYE) for new investment in agro-allied based industry not less than Fifty Million Naira (N50,000,000.00) in verified value with a workforce of not less than 50. Waiver applies for 5 years from date of approval.
The above is in addition to the peace and security enjoyed in the state which has also led the state being rated at different times as the safest in Nigeria.
Of course, peace and security alone do not necessarily guarantee the influx of investors to a state, the governor’s avowed commitment to infrastructural development and sacrificial dedication to the growth, development and protection of Micro, Small, Medium, and even Large Enterprises has never been in doubt. In all these areas, Dr Ikpeazu has shown sufficient commitment and it is paying off already.
Last year, he sent 30 young entrepreneurs in the area of shoe and other leatherworks business on an all expense paid trip to China to hone their skills in the use of modern machines for shoemaking.
Today, not only are the beneficiaries already making waves with their world class products, they have been receiving invitations to international exhibitions and also receiving awards for their ingenuity, the latest being Nora Onwuasoanya who only on Thursday won the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises of the Year (MSME) Award as the Outstanding Female SMSE Personality of the Year 2019, while Abia won The Most Supportive MSME State of the Year 2019 at the event organized by the federal government.
In addition to the rave reviews being garnered by these entrepreneurs, they are to cascade their knowledge of automation processes obtained in China to others in the Abia shoe and leather works industry, hence, the Governor has gone a step further to procure complete sets of the machines used in China for the purposes of manufacturing and training.
On a larger scale, some of the world’s biggest players in business including the Ruyi Group, NIBRA Group, Geometric Power, and even the Federal Government etc have all been investing in the State. With the new business-friendly, efficient, cooperative and supportive 7th Abia State House of Assembly under the leadership of Rt Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji MNSE, already embarking on effective oversight functions on government agencies and determined to continue to make laws that will further boost the business environment in Abia for the good of our people, collaborating with the Executive to make this happen, and with the way things are going, those who do not invest in the State soon might be coming late because the new capital of Abia State under Dr Okezie Ikpeazu is gradually and steadily turning to Prosperity!
With the giant strides already recorded in commerce, industry and agriculture, leading to real and potential massive creation of employment and empowerment of our youths in the State, the government deserves the support of all and sundry in Abia’s irreversible journey to “Canaan Land”.
Jude Ndukwe is the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker of Abia State, Rt Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji MNSE