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OPINION! Ikpeazu: Foreign Direct Investments & A Governor’s Strategic Thinking, By Jude Ndukwe

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Senior Special Assistant to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on Media and Publicity, Chief Jude Ndukwe

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7

It was Steve Jobs who said, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu

Moving mountains is a product of the mind. A thinking mind will always achieve things that are quite staggering and audacious. Sometimes the results from a thinking mind make mean people confused and can also make one’s traducers go berserk. They question the possibility of the exceptional results of a thinking mind. They cannot fathom it. Most times they wish it never happens.

This is not strange. It has been like that from time immemorial. This is because a man who thinks, not just think, for everyone thinks, but according to Christopher Hitchens, “The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks”, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has proved that he does not just think but thinks far and strategically, not just for the election but for the next generation.

For Abia State to continue to grow beyond its status of average height to an Olympian status in not only Nigeria but also globally, in education, entrepreneurship, infrastructure, health, agriculture, youth employment, women empowerment, security etc, it needs a governor who thinks outside the box. And thankfully, God has blessed the State with someone like Ikpeazu, a critical thinker, a flawless and scientific assessor of events and indices around him for better results just like the accomplished scientist that he is.

It is therefore not a thing of surprise that when Abia State was recently announced as one of the top three investment destinations for foreign investors in nigeria, after Abuja and Lagos, tongues started wagging as to how such a thing could happen in Abia State.

In that report, for the last quarter of 2018, “Abuja had $2.5 billion capital inflow with a ranking of 42 per cent performance; Lagos, $1.6 billion capital inflow with a ranking of 30 per cent performance and Abia, $1.2 billion with a ranking of 23 per cent. The other states ranked between zero and 0.2 per cent”.

The most amazing thing is that the gap between Abia and Lagos is so close that with Governor Ikpeazu’s continued drive in infrastructural development and continued improvements in human and societal developmental indices, the State under Ikpeazu is poised to overtake not only Lagos but also Abuja to become the number one foreign direct investment destination for the whole of Nigeria in a very short while.

Abia has done it in education where she has remained first consecutively for four years in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, in the ranking of WASCE. If it was possible in education, it surely is also possible in attracting foreign investments to the State.

Yet, this is not accidental. It certainly is the result of a mentally committed and physically involved governor who, from day one, had Education as one of the Developmental Pillars and Enablers, and Ease of Doing Business as number one Enabler of his administration.

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Following this, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu gave mouthwatering and irresistible offers to potential investors who wish to do business in Abia State as follows:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

Added to the above offers is the radically improved security situation in the state that has seen Abia ranked as one of the safest and most secured states in Nigeria, hence, giving a boost to investors’ confidence in the State and the ability of Governor Ikpeazu, through God’s grace, to protect them and their investments even beyond his tenure in 2023 with the enduring security system he is putting in place.

Another factor that the Governor has going for him is his avowed commitment to entrepreneurship, including small, medium and large scales which has been acknowledged globally. He has received several awards including the one from the federal government for this singular purpose which has seen him send several youths to China to hone their skills in automated shoemaking after which he procured the needed automated machines for use by these youths to improve quality and quantity.

One of the factors that affect location of industries worldwide is the availability of skilled labour. This, the governor has been able to take care of through the formal and informal systems of education as Abia State University moved from a distant 96th position on the ranking of universities in the country to the first ten, even as the Education for Employment (E4E) policy has continued to empower Abians and make them ready to be engaged by investors in the State while there have also been tremendous improvements in the informal sector of education through such actions as training Abia youths in China who in turn cascade their knowledge to others back home.

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Knowing full well that an unhealthy population of skilled labourers are of no interest to investors, Ikpeazu has embarked on several health reforms as part of his Enablers to ensure that, apart from the waivers and tax reliefs granted investors, they have ready and able labour force to tap into. Some of such health reforms include the Dial-a-Doc Telehealth Initiative and the Abia Emergency Medical Services that allow Abians access to quality health services 24/7 even in the comfort of their homes.

These initiatives have recently earned the Governor an award from the World Bank as Abia State won $660,000 (approximately N237m) additional funds from the Bank for the successful implementation of the Save One Million Lives Programme for Results in 2018, and the selection of Abia State as one of the only three key pilot states for the roll out of the Basic Health Provision Fund (BHCPF).

Also in October 2018, the World Bank listed Abia, Kaduna, Enugu, Lagos and Anambra as the states making giant strides in implementing policies for Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria.

This personal commitment of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to all indices of life must have been so reassuring to the international business community that they feel so comfortable investing in Ikpeazu’s Abia State.

The list of investors already thronging Abia State to invest include global brands like the Ruyi Group (World’s largest garment manufacturers), Volkswagen, DAF, NIBRA Designs Ltd etc, with the Enyimba Economic City, “the best and most attractive industrial city, being the cherry on the cake for these highly rated and discerning investors, not forgetting Golden Guinea Breweries which is set to restart production in the next five months thereabout.

Let me end this piece with a quote from the Governor during the Abia Governorship Debate: “We are not running a government for election, we are running a government for the next generation”. Out of the abundance of a man’s heart the mouth speaks, so says the Holy Book. Ikpeazu’s strategic thinking can only continue to take Abia to greater heights.

At this rate, Abia will soon become the first state in Nigeria to record near-zero unemployment rate in Nigeria!

Chief Sir Jude Ndukwe sent this piece from Umuahia

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