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Akwa Ibom: refocusing for growth and development

by Business News Report

By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
Akwa Ibom state is one of the few states that embraced the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy, NEEDS early enough. As a result in 2004, the government of the state fashioned its development strategy along that of the federal government. Last year the state budget was geared toward poverty alleviation. The decision of the government to embraced the NEEDS strategy was borne out of the visionary of the state governor Ubong Victor Attah who has come to gripe with the reality that the state is a gold mine that is waiting to be explored. Before now it had, like Nigeria itself, put all its eggs in one basket relying on the crumps that fell from the master table, oil revenue. The state then survived solely on its own share of the allocation from the master’s purse “Federation Account”. At the time agriculture, which should have formed the bedrock of the state’s economy, was not given the required attention, even though it is the source of livelihood for the generality of the people who live in the rural areas of the state.
The present in the state has also realised the past error of government’s direct involvement in commercial enterprise which are evident in the number of industries that were, prior to May 29, 1999, either comatose or merely hanging on the periphery of life and death. They include Champion Breweries and Plasto Crown Industries Limited, botl in Uyo; Sunshine Batteries Limited, Essien Udim; Peackocl Paints Limited, Etinan; Quality Ceramics Industries Limited, Itu Qua Steel Products Limited anc Seastate Seafood Limited, both ii Eket. Others are Asbestoni Industries Limited, Oron International Biscuits Limited Ikot Ekpene etc. Soon after taking over the reign of government in 1999, the state government embark on restructuring, reactivation and privatisation of the companies, beginning with Champion Breweries, hitherto the flagship of the state’s virtual1 non-existent industrial sector.
The move paid off. The company is today producing full capacity, and has in the past two years operated profitably
The government’s economic policy is anchored on the premises that development and sustained growth can only come about through private sector initiatives under an enabling environment created by the government. This explains the government’s two-pronged approach of creating the necessary conditions that will attract investors, and also taking on the job of wooing investors to take advantage of those conditions. The policy also entails provision of the necessary conditions that will allow for openness and fair competition.

“The main policy thrust of the government of Akwa Ibom State on investment is to encourage
private sector-led industrialisation in stimulating the expansion of her domestic production capacity, improve efficient production of goods and services, create employment and promote technology-driven development”, the government says in a statement. “It is a major policy of government to. reduce direct state ownership of enterprises and control over the economy”.
In order to consolidate the gains made so far Akwa Ibom state recently presented the 2005 annual budget to the state Assembly. The state government planned to spend the sum of N83.28billion for the 2005 fiscal year as against the total appropriation of N47.42billion budgeted in 2004. Of the budget outlay for 2005, N24.08billion is for recurrent expenditure while the sum of N59.20billion is for capital expenditure representing a ratio of 1:2.5. The state in 2005, expect a revenue profile of N72.69billion which represent an increase of N35.92billion or 97.6 per cent when matched with the figures of the previous year’s budget. A break down of the revenue profile for 2005, show that the state is expecting a total of N18billion a statutory
allocation from the federation account, N47.23billion as revenue from derivation, internally generated revenue for the year is expected to climb to N3.6billion, Value added tax is expected to yield the sum of N3.4billion, loans from various sources will generate for the state the sum of N6billion, while retained revenue from parastatals will boost the state revenue by N0.46billion and other capital receipts is expected to garner for the state treasury the sum of N4.59billion. Thus giving the state a total revenue profile of N83.38billion.
For the state services this year, a recurrent expenditure of N24.08billion is estimated by the state government the state governor said “For the 2005 fiscal year, recurrent expenditure is estimated at N24.08 billion made up of N11.88 billion for personnel costs and N5.68 billion for overhead costs. Another sum of N6.52 billion is projected to cover Consolidated Revenue Fund Charges including pensions, gratuities and public debt”.
The state projected capital expenditure for 2005 is N59.20 billion as against the estimates of N25.34 billion for 2004. This represents an increase of N33.86 billion or 133.6 per cent. The sectoral allocation of the capital outlay of N59.20 billion as provided in the state budget are
S/No. Sector Allocation Percentage of
N Allocation
1. Economic 27.64 46.7
2. Social 9.64 16.3
3. Environmental and Urban Development 16.20 27.4
4. General Administration 5.72 9.6
Total N 59.20 100
The government in pursuit of poverty alleviation had in 2004, initiated the Community Plantation Development Scheme to assist communities to develop, maintain and manage oil palm, rubber and cocoa plantations in their communal land. The sum of N417 million was therefore released for the scheme. From available records, 1,500 hectares of oil palm, 140 hectares of rubber and 86 hectares of cocoa have been cultivated in communities spread throughout the 31 Local Government Areas of the State. In addition, over 300,000 seedlings of oil palm are being developed in three nurseries located at Odiok ltam, Itu Local Government Area, ltak Ikot Udo, Ikot Ekpene Local Government and Ikot Essen, Nsit Atai Local Government Area. Cocoa seedlings are also being developed at Odoro lkpemi Local at Ebighi Anwa, Okobo Local Government Area. Records also show that the state Government also procured and sold 1,110 metric tones of fertilizers to farmers at subsidized rate.
The state government in its desire to improve the lots of the citizenry in 2004 encouraged fish farming toÃì boost fish production and reduce pressure on the natural resource. The fish hatchery at lkot Abasi was rehabilitated while construction on a new one was started in Eastern Cbolo.
Also, the sum of N70 million was released last year to provide soft loans for the participants of the Integrated Farmers Scheme. This scheme is to be further strengthened with the facility of N270.0 million recently approved for agricultural programmes in the State and the Nigerian Agricultural and Rural Development Bank (NARDB). These participants currently have broilers, eggs, various fruits, pork and other meats such as rabbits and grass cutters for sale to members of the public. The state in continuation of its policy plans in 2005 budget to expand the scope of ‘Agricultural Programmes in the State with the re-establishment of partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Niger Delta Development Commission in the implementation of $4 million Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme. The state government avows that food sufficiency and security shall continue to be its cardinal policy of in 2005. For all the agricultural programmes, it has set aside a total sum of N1.06 billion to execute the programmes in the 2005 Budget.
Realising the importance of road network to the state during the 2004 fiscal year, the state government awarded 14 road contracts at a total cost of N29.48 billion.. These contracts covered the three senatorial districts of the State. Some of the roads for which contracts were awarded include the dualisation of Abak road, Nwaniba and Oron roads in Uyo, and township roads in Abak, Eket, and lkot Abasi. Also, in addition to the township roads in Uyo are being vigorously executed. In 2005, government plans to continue with the construction of new roads. In particular, the construction of five new roads are billed to commence in 2005. These are: •Construction of Utu Etim Ekpo lwukem Road with spurs from lkwek-Utu Etim Ekpo­Urua Inyang Road; .•Construction of Etebi-Enwang Road with spurs; Construction of Nung Udoe Itak-Use lkot Amama Road; •Construction of Aka-lkot Ekan Road with spurs; and • Construction of Ring Road II (Section between Abak Road and Aka Road). The total expenditure proposed for road development is N10.145 billion.
The state in keeping with its commitment to the provision of qualitative education at all levels, plans to continue to vigorously pursue educational programmes in the 2005 fiscal year.̓ government the state governor said is sponsoring 200 graduates of Akwa lbom State origin for training in Canada in courses in Information Technology at the cost of $5 million US Dollars. Upon completion of̓the training, these beneficiaries will help in sustaining the tempo of the on-going lCT revolution in the State. Othe(projects slated for implementation in the 2005 Budget include: •.Completion of 3No. Replacement Secondary Schools; Completion of 4No Model Science Schools; construction of facilities at the permanent site of the University of Technology.Completion of the Information Technology Park. The sum of N10.87billion is allocated to various programmes and projects in the Education, Science and Technology Sector. The break-down shows that 145.70 billion is for recurrent expenditure while 145.18 billion is for capital expenditure.
The state in keeping with it’s determination to stimulate the industrial and tourism sector of the State, allocated the sum of N16.82 billion in the 2005 fiscal year. The key projects for which provisions have been made in the 2005 Budget include:
*5 Star Resort Hotel, Golf Course, the Marina, and Access Road to 5-Star Hotel all-•
Completion. of Industrial Estates at Uyo, and lkot Abasi and the development of Infrastructure in other industrial estates/parks at Oron, lkot Ekpene, and Essien UdimDevelopment of the Oil and Gas Industrial Processing/Trade Zone (IPTZ) ‘at lbaka, Mbo Local government Area.-Government will also provide loans to small and medium scale entrepreneurs to enhance private sector investment under the Strategic Economic Empowerment Fund (SEEF) Scheme.
The state government in its 2005 budget pledge to continue to make concerted effort to upgrade and expand existing facilities, of the various information dissemination agencies and offices of the State, namely: Radio and Television Services of Akwa lborn Broadcasting Corporation, the Akwa lbom Newspaper Corporation (The Pioneer), the Government Printing Press, CouncilÃìfor Arts and Culture, and the Ethical and Attitudinal Re-orientation Commission. Provision has been made foiit~e rehabilitation of Uyo Sports Stadium and construction of a Youth Centre Complex in the State, In 2005 the budget statement said government will continue to support the various women development programmes. Under this sector, in the 2005 Budget, a total sum of N1.830 billion has been voted for all the projects and programmes
In the same vein the Akwa Ibom State government released funds for the implementation of the following projects in the Judiciary:Construction of 17 Customary Court buildings;
Construction of I (one) Magistrate Court building and renovation of 1 (one)
Magistrate Court; ., Renovation of (2) two High Court buildings •construction of (1) one Revenue Court building; Library; For the 2005 fiscal year, the state government said it will continue to strengthen the Akwa Ibom State Judiciary to enable it effectively perform its constitutional responsibilities. To this end, it voted a total sum of N1.04 billion in the 2005 budget to address the Capital and Recurrent needs of the State Judiciary.
In line with the policy of the sate administration of ensuring adequate funding of the legislative arm of government, a total sum N1.23 billion has been proposed for the recurrent and capital expenditure of the State House of Assembly for the 2005 fiscal year.
From the inception of the Attah administration, it has identified core projects, which have the potentials of jump starting and accelerating the pace of economic development of the state. These projects include the independent power plant, the refinery, the integrated agro­allied ventures, and the airport. The implementation of these projects was stalled by the 2002 Supreme Court judgement on the Onshore/offshore dichotomy. But the governor said the is now poised to revisit the implementation of these key projects. As a result, a total sum of N24.50 million is set aside in the 2005 budget for the implementation of these projects.
Government the 2005 budget stated will continue to revitalize the machinery of administration in order to facilitate the implementation of approved plans and programmes. It is our desire to transform the Akwa lbom public service to meet the challenges of good governance and to make civil servants to be well trained, resourceful, innovative and highly motivated.

In the year 2005, Government will continue to pursue the policy of providing efficient and effective health care services that is affordable and accessible. A total allocaUon of 144.60 billion is proposed for the Health Sector out of which 142.40 billion is provided for recurrent services and 142.19 billion for capital programme.
The sum of N6.19 billion has been allocated to this sector to ensure the completion of various on-going drainage and flood control schemes in the State; and in particular, the sum of- N2.00billion is provided for the completion of the on-going Uyo Drainage project especially Nkemba trough. In the area of urban development, a total sum of N2.70 billion has been voted. Priority attention will ~e given to the completion of the, following on-going projects: Markets,• motor parks, beautification of urban centres, and •The payment of outstanding compensation on acquired land.
In all, the state government is paying attention to cassava processing for export; growing of rice, not just for domestic use, but also for export, as well as harnessing the state’s marine and aquatic culture potential in the areas of catfish, shrimps, etc”.
The experience during the years of the locust showed that the state cannot survive mainly on revenue from oil. If anything, the experience during that period served as a dress rehearsal of what to expect after oil would have dried up. The economic policy therefore takes cognisance of the fact that oil will not remain the mainstay of the country’s economy for too long. Which explains why current emphasis is on non-oil sectors such as agriculture and ICT.

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