COMMISSIONER FOR INDUSTRY ON PLATFORM

Nigeria is 60 years already as an Independent Nation. Bravo! And to all of us; that we have been able to stay together as one indivisible entity, even with political upheavals and socioeconomic challenges confronting us daily, we remain grateful. It is no longer news that poverty reigns in our country. Neither is it in doubt that the crime rate in Nigeria is on the increase, with its numerous complications. Now, is time again, to reflect on the state of the nation. In doing this, we need to possibly, begin with looking at the remote and immediate causes of the setback syndrome that is fighting so strongly to cripple the country’s development. The major issue to consider here, is unemployment. This is a national issue that should not be thrown out with a mere wave of the hand, either by an individual or government. Unemployment is still an unfinished business. The rate of unemployed people, particularly the youths, is growing in geometric progression. Though, this is not just a Nigerian problem, as it is a world-wide phenomenon that demands global attention. Our concern is Nigeria. The impact is also devastating here, being a developing country. At 60 years, the unemployment rate in the country is even more disturbing, given the fact that thousands of the country’s youths still roam the streets without jobs placement opportunities.
Nigeria’s economic condition still cannot absorb an optimal proportion of its labour force, thus, making the rise in crimes and other social vices, order of the day. It is therefore, reasonable to look at the great concern of the Cross River State Governor, Sen. (Prof.) Ben Ayade, has in redefining growth and development, as he launched an aggressive industrialization drive, upon taking the mantle of leadership in the State. He has been consistent with creating continuous jobs opportunities that can offer numerous Cross Riverians sustainable livelihoods.
In trying to justify his innovative strategies, Ayade said, “I know what I am doing, when I made the choice of going into industrialization. I can build a road from here to Ougadougu and it will not create jobs but when I build a factory, it would create jobs…so why are you a Governor when your people go to bed, hungry…?” It could be recalled that, these factories have indeed, be built in the State, but with zero allocation from the country’s federal account. Not only that, cross River State has been the first and only State in Nigeria that pays salaries, ever since Ayade came into office. “In spite of the fact I have also brought thousands of people into the State government’s payroll through political appointments”, the Governor, stated.
Ayade’s performance keeps lifting Cross River higher and higher as he has stylishly turned the State into a Role Model State worthy of emulation. His style of governance, in terms of the innovative strategies he has put in place is impacting on the generality of the people, clearly defining him as a Governor, making the difference. He is ever ready to demonstrate his passion for industrialization of the State. This is evident in the multi-billion Naira jobs he is creating from the numerous factories spread across the State. Cross River Garment factory with over 2000 sewing machines is the first of its kind in Africa. Deep Sea Port at Bakassi, massive Rice Seeds and Seedlings Factory, Cosmetic Factory, including the 30,000 tones capacity Cocoa Processing Plant and many other of his Signature Projects, are receiving commendation across the nation and beyond.
Worthy too, of mention, is the continuous thump-up Ayade is getting from Farmers, for the political goodwill that has been encouraging them to embrace agriculture. “Anybody who has never believed in farming, now has to believe. It is the future”, he said, as he described it as “an untapped goldmine”.
The visible corresponding industrial growth being fed by Ayade’s passion for enhancing livelihood everywhere in the State is commendable. Considering that Sir Ben Ayade’s Industrial Model is now a reference model that other states in the country are following and that the system has set the pace for the kind of development pattern that prospective partners, donors and investors are now following for future development cooperation, MOFINEWS took a close look at how Cross River State has fared so far, as Nigeria turned 60 years, an Independent Nation and how the present administration has consistently dwelt on large scale industrialization with potentials for continuous jobs creation and significant reduction on unemployment.
On our Prestigious PLATFORM, we had an energetic, young promising leader with so much passion for service, grace our interview for this all-important Edition. Mr. Peter Egba, who heads the Industrialization sector in the State as Commissioner for Industries, will leave no one who interacts closely with him, with no doubt that he is indeed, one of the vibrant young leaders in Cross River that desire to achieve above and beyond expectations.
It was an-on- the spot interview and the Commissioner seized the opportunity to equally prove his capability and competence. He spoke with such amazing authority signifying that he surely knows how to “Count his onions”. His expertise in giving accurate account on the Industrialization journey so far in Cross River left us convinced that, truly he is a man well-vested in the developmental progress of the State.
For those who may not have known Peter Egba before, can now see that he is an astute administrator, a livewire Industrialist with potentials for achieving higher heights through his consistent strong values that depict him as a distinguished leader that can be held accountable for his words, actions and never-giving chances for excuses. Where others might think a task is too difficult, Egba portrays the picture of an enthusiastic leader passionately driving the Ayade Industrialization dream with so much energy and positivity. No wonder, the enabling environment provided for the conduct of the interview took an interesting shape, a drift from the conventional interview that had questionnaires posted ahead of the actual one-on- one chat.
Excepts:

MOFINEWS: Nigeria is sixty now, we have seen that achieving rapid industrialization has been difficult even as the present administration of Sir Ben Ayade has been trying to fix this, to really make it matter; As it concerns rapid industrialization and the technology capacity skills. We wish to know what steps your office has taken so far, to actualize this laudable dream.
HON. COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. Nigeria is 60 years already and this means that the country has come a long way. The idea behind independence basically, was to emancipate the country from the grip of the Colonial Masters as it were. So that we could be independent politically, economically and otherwise. So far so good, we have been able to liberate ourselves politically and partially, economically too. Partially because our economy is not absolutely depending on us in the sense that we still do not determine the prices of what we produce as our major source of revenue.It is determined by external bodies. So economically, we are not 100% economically free and now to
cascade it down to cross River State, we have a lot to show for, especially in this present administration which started in
2011.
When this government came on board, the Governor Sen. (Prof) Ben Ayade made it clear that he wanted to industrialize the State. Between that time till now, he has not let anyone down in the sense that we have been able to turn Cross River State into an Industrialized State. The idea behind all these is to gradually de-couple ourselves over depending on permission account, to create employment for our youths and population and also, increase our revenue means as a State. That is the idea behind the industrialization drive. So far, we know that some factories are already working and we have been able to engage some persons. We have taken them from the streets, not knowing what they would have been doing now without getting employed into these factories. Some of the women could have gotten into prostitution, and the young men into other vices, who knows? So, because of the industrialization drive, we have been able to employ people and feel very glad that they now feed their families and are able to also, send their children to schools. More so, they feel very glad living well in their houses.
MOFINEWS: Do we have key indicators showing those who have been beneficiaries of the industrialization drive?

HON. COMMISSIONER: If you go to the Garment Factory for instance, most of the persons employed there are women and a greater percentage which are widows. One would have taught that if a factory is established, the focal point would be on the revenue generation. But the Governor, goes beyond that. The reason is that, he is looking at the social component of it. When you begin to think about bringing widows into one particular place so that they could earn a living, it has definitely gone beyond economy, it has become social change.So that it would help to ameliorate the sufferings as a result of loss of their husbands who were their bread winners.