Akwa Ibom State Information Commissioner Charles Udoh speaks on burning issues and investment of the state government to boost industrialization during All Editors Conference in Asaba. Excerpts
Sir there have been alle-gations that the coconut plantation and coconut refinery are not functioning? Can you provide update on these projects?
On the question asked about the coconut refinery and the coconut plantation, these are two projects in one. The coconut plantation covers three local government areas, Mkpat Enin, Eastern Obodo and Ikot Abasi local government areas. As we speak, the coconut plantation employs no fewer than 350 young men and women who ordinarily would have been roaming the streets. The expanse of land covering 1,100 hectares for the plantation is at various levels of cultivation and also the refinery. It is therefore clearly not true that coconut is not being cultivated. The youths have passed through various stages of training in different aspects of the projects.The refinery would cater for the processing of coconut which is one of the longest surviving plants with more than 365 usages and a value chain that triples other economic generating ventures. With this coconut plantation, over 2.1 million stands have been planted as one of the most profitable businesses with consummate monetary reward in the drive to boost diversification from oil and promote industrialization.
There is a rise in the number of foreign investors in Akwa Ibom State, how does this transform your internally generated revenue and what measures are in place to check the standard of foreign investors starting up businesses in Akwa Ibom State?
Talking about visibility study, I listed almost 8-11 companies and factories that are thriving in Akwa Ibom State and that clearly show that the state government goes through a thorough process of due diligence, a thorough process of background, a thorough process of prove of funds before engaging investors. That is why today the National Bureau of Statistics says Akwa Ibom state is the second largest destination for foreign direct investment. That is a landmark project. This is a project that is said to transform the income generation strides of Awka Ibom State government. It is clearly tied to the question earlier asked on income generated revenue, when that factory is completed sometimes later early next year, on the first day, it will employ 1500 workers. So, that’s a project that needs to be supported, That is a project with so many opportunities. I am sure some of the guests here would have opportunities to seek how to become distributors. How to become suppliers of one sort or another. So, clearly the refinery project is on course.
What are the milestones of Gov Udom Emmanuel on road and other infrastructure?
I am happy today that Akwa Ibom State is blessed with a governor who understands the importance of infrastructure in driving economic development and industrialization. I can boldly say with facts that the administration of Gov Udom has completed the construction of 1,701 kilometers of roads and 36 bridges across the state in the last three years. This is one important area in which residents of the state claimed have reduced their suffering significantly and encouraging despite the downturn in crude oil price and revenue allocation during the first two years of his administration. Security of lives has also improved significantly as dividend of democracy. Hence, the support of all residents for the re-election of Governor Udom for second term.