Economy and Business
Federal Government to construct Aba – Ikot Ekpene road next year according to Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel
By Tom Okure, Ph.D.
Mr. Udom Emmanuel, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State (AKS) indicates that the Nigerian Federal Government has included the construction of Aba, Ikot Ekpene and Calabar Road in its budget plans and that the road would soon be repaired in the coming year. The governor recently made the remarks while addressing the people of Ikot Ekpene and Essien Udim during the Silver Jubilee celebration of Christ the King Parish church in Odoro Ikot in Essien Udim Local Government Area.
According to Governor Udom Emmanuel:
“I have applied to the Federal Government to hand over the road traversing Aba, Ikot Ekpene and Calabar to enable me partner a Private investor who will repair the road and create toll gate to recover the investment. Instead of granting the application the Federal Government announced that the road has been captured in next year’s budget and has been earmarked for construction so I am calling for understanding as the road would soon be repaired as promised by the Central Government”
The Governor also denounced the loss of lives and properties in Ikot Ineme community due to the persistent communal clashes associated with disputed lands in the area and indicated that the Akwa Ibom State government has taken possession of the disputed land for agricultural purpose. He indicated that the government will not tolerate lawlessness in the community and urged Community Stakeholders to report crisis situations to the government for prompt intervention.
During the occasion, the Governor also drew the attention of the church to the rising level of moral decadence in society and urged the church to preach words of “salvation, morality as well as reinvent evangelism to direct the minds of the people towards the fear of God.”
ICMS, Inc Reports
By Tom Okure, Ph.D.
February 4, 2017
African Manufacturing and Industrial Giant Dangote Group has announced it is set to resume tomato processing in its Kadawa factory in Kano State of Nigeria. In preparation to restart the Tomato Processing Factory Alhaji Abdulkarim Kaita, who is the Company Managing Director, disclosed recently in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Kano that the company has begun a tomato farms surveys in six states which include Jigawa, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Gombe, Plateau and Sokoto. The surveys are supposed to ascertain the extent of the availability of tomatoes in the farms of these major producing states.
The company indicates it will need about 40 trailers of tomato daily to meet its processing needs in the factory when the farmers start harvesting their tomatoes. In preparation for the start of production at the factory, the company engaged more than 50 new employees who will focus on conveying the fresh tomato inside the factory for processing and about 30 Industrial Training (IT) students are alleged to have also been employed by the company as quality control inspectors to assess the quality of the tomatoes prior to processing.
It will be recalled that last year the company was forced to suspend its production of processed tomatoes because of insufficient raw materials input and an outbreak of a pest popularly known as “Tuta Absoluta’’ which destroyed tomato farms in Kano and five other tomato producing states in Nigeria. The massive requirement of tomatoes needed as raw material input at the factory also caused shortages of tomatoes throughout the country.
Commentary and Policy Recommendation
The announcement to resume the processing of tomatoes by the Dangote Group is a welcome development for Nigeria as it adds to the internal production capacity of this vital commodity that is widely used in food preparation by Nigerian families. Internal production of tomato paste etc., in Nigeria will help reduce the importation of this vital commodity by the federal government and save the country on badly needed foreign exchange at a time of recession by helping to reduce or end the importation of processed tomato paste into the country.
More than 40,000 individual farms are involved in the farming of tomatoes in the six identified states and would benefit from selling their tomatoes to the Dangote factory. Logistically local employment will be stimulated in various ways as local people will be involved in supplying things like baskets, fertilizer and other needs of the farmers.
Nevertheless, we believe that rather than buying the raw materials from the individual farmers as is planned, a better policy approach would be for the Dangote Company to retain the services of the tomato farmers as its agents organized into “tomato farm cooperatives” to grow, harvest and sale the tomatoes back to Dangote Company at an assured and guaranteed annual price. This approach would create both employment for the farmers and guarantee them some level of expected annual income for their tomatoes. The Nigerian Federal Government in partnership with the Dangote Group would fund the creation of cooperative farms from among the individual farmers, provide the cooperative farms with the technical assistance and know how needed to grow and harvest pest free high yield quality tomatoes on a year round basis for harvesting, sale to and processing at the company’s Kadawa factory in Kano State.
Annang nation is blessed with many of these sand river beds and it provides a thriving business for the local economy where they are found. The mining of sand is historically and culturally significant for Annang people because it reflects the life blood of the native people prior to the rapid economic transformation of the Annang nation. Sand mining is historically significant for the Annangs since the colonial era. Today the industry employs hundreds to perhaps thousands of local indigenous people through a semi managed production and supply chain for sand.
The canoes filled with sand bring the sand to a predetermined open storage location near or far from the river for the business owner and the harvested sands are piled into dunes for sale to local customers. The increasing demand for sand has been putting more and more pressure on the harvesting of sand from major rivers like Mbiaso river in Ikot Ekpene . Typically customers are required to pay in advance for sand prior to loading a delivery sand truck for a customer. A truck load of mined sand is currently priced at between 10,000 Naira to 12,000 Naira depending on location purchased from or the nature of the sand type (shape or coarse sand) etc.
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By Tom Okure, Ph.D
(Dr. Okure is CEO of ICMS,Inc and a Nigerian indigene based in the USA.
Dr. Okure is a Writer, Commentator, Public Policy and Economic Development Consultant/Advisor)
Date: August 12, 2016
The Akwa Ibom State Government signed a management agreement with Starwood Hotels in 2014 to manage a (4 Star) Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene built under contract for the government by Renaissance Construction. In 2015 a large portion of construction work was finished and officially opened by the departing Godswill Akpabio’s administration, even though the hotel was not fully ready and operational.
Starwood Hotels, the designated manager of this hotel states that the Hotel will be fully open and operational by April of 2017. Starwood Hotels has experience managing hotels in Akwa Ibom State as it also manages the well renowned Le Méridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort in Uyo. Four Points amenities include a banquet hall, spa, meeting rooms, restaurants indoor and outdoor, swimming pool, tennis courts, club lounge and even a roof terrace.
Four Points by Sheraton Hotel is located adjacent to Ikot Ekpene City Center Plaza that was commissioned by the State government during the Silver Jubilee celebrations in the state. It is the tallest building in Ikot Ekpene city and an imposing structure which can be seen from many miles from the city center. It is a definite enhancement to the landscape of the city.
The hotel is situated at the old site of Ikot Ekpene federal prison which was located in the heart of the city. The federal prison was demolished and relocated out of town to make room for the Four Point hotel which the city planners believe was essential to accord the ancient town of Ikot Ekpene a befitting image, facelift and boost it as a tourist destination enhancement within Nigeria deserving of its status as the first experimental local government area created by the British colonial government in Nigeria and West Africa.
Ikot Ekpene is recognized as a commerce center and is reputable in the production and exportation of a variety of agricultural products including palm products such as palm oil, kernels, raffia and the cultivation of a variety of food crops likes yams, cassava, and corn.
Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene Highlights
Location: Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom;
Keys: 144 Standard Rooms, 2 Presidential Suites and 16 Regular Suites;
Total Gross Floor Area: 13,700m2;
Contractors: Renaissance Construction;
Expected Opening: April 2017
Read More: Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MESS AT IKOT EKPENE CONTROL POST?
By Tom Okure, Ph.D
(Dr. Okure is an Ikot Ekpene Indigene based in the USA
and a Public Policy and Economic Development Consultant/Advisor)
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ubong F Essien
Dated August 2, 2016
It would have been better to do nothing rather than turn this historic CONTROL POST location (Site) into the SORRY STATE depicted in the pictures within this article.
Someone should tell/advice the AKS government that this is appalling and very unacceptable. Control Post is the very heart of Ikot Ekpene and a very historical spot where the British Colonial Government began the mapping of the town and administration of the province. This is the locus point of Ikot Ekpene village (Usug Ikot Ekpene) which the town and local government derives it’s name. This is also the central point of the author’s village and a very important junction point in Annang nation.
Policy Advice on Construction Projects in Akwa Ibom State
Construction projects should never be started without a special dedicated budget fund to accomplish the task over a period of years. Budgetary revenues would be released annually as planned project targets are accomplished until the planned infrastructure/project is completed. The dilemma that Akwa Ibom State is facing as we witness the abandonment of many planned projects that the administration of Akpabio undertook like the Tropicana Plaza in Uyo and dualiization of Uyo/Ikot-Ekpene Federal road is the lack of capital planning foresight and the failure to build into the government capital budget for projects a contingency budget to accommodate unforeseen circumstances (like the fall in oil revenues) as we are experiencing throughout the country. Moreover, in civilized countries in Europe and the United States infrastructure projects are funded from dedicated funding revenue streams which in New York State budgeting is referred to as Special Revenue Funds (SRF). Initial funding for specific infrastructural projects can begin by issuing specific capital bonds guaranteed by the Federal government as a debt to the state. When the specific bond funded project is completed, it could be utilized to generate specific revenues to repay the long term bonds associated with the project.
The Need to Establish Dedicated Special Revenue Funds (SRF) in AKSG Budgetary System.
Special Revenue Funds (SRF) are dedicated revenues in government budgets to accommodate specific activities like road construction and maintenance, education, sanitation etc. SRFs are derived from sources outside the General Funds (GF) account of government budgets. In Akwa Ibom State, the government can institute a road tariff (or toll) and other user rates/fees (at the airport, parks, etc.) specifically aimed at generating dedicated budgetary Special Revenue Funds (SRF) to maintain and beautify the existing road networks in the state. The state is blessed with a good road network that are already in place which were built by the previous Akpabio Administration.
SRFs cannot be used for other than the purpose they are setup for. They can be established by the Executive governor or by the State Legislature to fund a specific project. Such funds are untouchable (outside politics) and cannot be used by the Legislature to pad the annual state budget. Over the years SRF can grow to enormous amounts and properly administered, can be employed to start, complete and fund magnificent projects. It is high time Akwa Ibom State should in earnest start generating significant internal revenues and reduce its dependence on federal allocations. In addition to creating industries in the state, focus should be placed on utilizing existing state assets to generate special revenues which should be utilized for specific purposes. The establishment of a State Lottery is a good example which can benefit the public and could generate a lot of funds for the state. Dedicated lottery funds in a SRF budgetary account could be used to maintain our primary, secondary schools and Universities. This is how proper state budgeting should work in a properly functioning state budgetary system.
Unless Akwa Ibom State policy makers start “thinking outside the box” and begin to explore setting up various SRF accounts to accommodate newly planned projects and the maintenance of existing projects like the abandoned dualization of Uyo Ikot Ekpene road, we will witness a slow and steady deterioration of the existing infrastructure which is already in place in the state, which is clearly exemplified by the mess we are seeing in Ikot Ekpene’s control post.