Friday 24th of March 2023 12:17:52 AM
Breaking News
1   Ex-Terrorists Negotiator, Tukur Mamu, Arraigned         2   Naira Scarcity: FG Urged To Save SMEs         3   Polls: ICPC Officers Rescue, Arrest Suspected Vote Buyer In Issele-Uku         4   As NHRC Tells Police To Arrest, Prosecute Electoral Law Violators         5   PDP Wins Seven Assembly Seats Out Of 11 In Bayelsa        

Okowa’s Lessons For Nigeria On Creating A Productive Economy
Published Nov 01, 2022 IN Column, STRONGER DELTA,
139         0
Please Share:

A Stronger Delta State, is not just a mantra, but a real­ity! In contrast, Nigeria’s economic management has been an elusive search for change, thus reinforcing a nearly eight-year long experience of situating Nigeria as the ‘Poverty Capital of the World’, that the majority of Nigerians now realise that there was really nothing to change. Rather, to unify the country and restore hope, the Okowa experience in Delta State, as well as the vision of the joint presidential ticket he shares with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, does demonstrate that the country’s leadership, come May 29, 2023, can yet be built on the basis of, to put it quite euphemistically, of first putting food on the tables of Nigerians, as the primary goal of government and the first charter in the social contractual obligation recognised by any government worth its mandate. It is what outlandish economic policies cannot do, such as the publicised plan to rebrand the Naira, rather than strengthen it. But by creating a new crop of job creators and innovators through his Wealth and Job Creation programme since 2015, enthroning a new era of Ease of Doing Business, creamed by his trade facilitation and export initiatives, with a sustained approach to wealth and job creation, thus effectively co-joining a knowledge based economy in Delta State with a bouquet of God-given resources, Delta State Governor and the PDP Vice Presidential candidate, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, has proudly beat his chest to the fact that, ‘Delta State is on the path of self-sufficiency.’

As he explained, it is a Stronger Delta creation, which comprises the vision for a productive economy. By tell­ing the Federal Government’s delegation on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) that, in the Governor’s words, that “Delta State is Ready For Export”, he meant that Delta State is looking inwards in order to be globally competitive. Governor Okowa’s vision in this regard is that of streamlining, standardising and simplifying both production and movement of goods and services, as well as adopting global practices and market opportunities, which is key to having a productive economy. Indeed, a central ele­ment of Governor Okowa’s Prosperity Creation, comprises, among others, the establishment of the likes of the Wealth and Job Creation Bureau, the UNIDO Export Initiative, Delta Investment Development Agency (D.I.D.A.), whose common denominator or shared characteristic, is to robustly engage in skills’ upscaling, business incubation, investment at­traction and trade facilita­tion, with both public and private sector stakeholders. All in all, with his domestic coordination and imple­mentation of policies and programmes, which has now coincided with the AFCFTA, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, was also right, in making bold to state that Delta State is ready for AFCFTA.

Right from the very begin­ning, the Okowa Adminis­tration adopted a winning strategy, by seeing to a melt­ing pot of trade and entre­preneurship in Delta State, so much so, that under his able leadership and direction, Delta State has been steered systematically and proactively into trade and investment promotion, gaining traction via much deployed comparative advantage, courtesy of the state’s economic policies and programmes, visibly endorsed by international stakehold­ers: The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), not discounting its ever faithful partner in progress, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), besides even the present Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry of Trade and Investments; all these have not hidden the fact that Delta State presents a key hope for the country to deliver on the African-wide AFCFTA agreement through consistent domestication policies and programmes. Through its support for trade and investment, Governor Okowa is being politically correct, for the fact that the demand for true federalism is predicated on states’ capac­ity to facilitate trade in areas of comparative advantage, such as it was before the advent of crude oil, when cash crops, including cocoa, palm produce, millet, among others fetched enormous foreign ex­change, but the states (then called regions) were mandated to pay royalties to the centre. But as twisted as the present federal struc­ture of the country ap­pears to be, Governor Okowa is fast taking the state beyond the disreputable lopsided­ness by making it very visible and significant within the new free trade arena. As a back­drop, nothing captures the story of growing international trade readiness in Delta State better than Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s job and wealth creation pro­grammes: it is a sub set that flows seamlessly with other economic indices faithfully being executed by the Okowa administration, so as to turn Delta State into a significant continental export hub, with its multiplier effect on the sub national economy, as envisaged by the Stronger Delta Agenda. At the maiden Prod­ucts’ Exhibition and Business Fair for ben­eficiaries of the scheme in December 2017, a Senior Specialist at the World Bank, Dr. Tunde Adekola affirmed that, “Delta State is the only state that has demon­strated its commitment to skills’ development in practical terms. The World Bank will con­tinue to support the Delta State Government in the areas of skills’ and technical develop­ment, as well as work ­with the job and wealth creation office to strengthen the labour market observatory system.” Expectedly, it would make Governor Okowa’s dream of re-creating the middle class a reality.”

This glowing endorsement gives both essence and credence to recent statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). This year, the NBS released two major statistics, first on Poverty-Population ratio among states in Nigeria and the second on un­employment rate in the country. Both statistics took cognisance of both the national average and prevailing averages across the 36 states. On both instances, Delta State recorded appreciable improvement and growth, both in terms of number of people rescued from poverty and those saved from the unemployment market. Delta State did not only surpass and better the national average on both indices of development, it climbed up the rung in the rank of states, especially in the poverty to population ratio. It was necessary to state the above, given that no economy, starting from the Asian Tigers to South America’s economic renaissance, had witnessed their well known economic turnaround without showing positive indication in their human development and living standard index. A study of the charts between 2015 and 2020 showed that Delta achieved the fastest transformation of taking more of its residents out of poverty. The National Poverty to Population Average for 2020 was tolerable, which translated to more Deltans climbing far above the scandalous standard of living less than one dollar a day, that most of Nigeria’s 200 million people are unfortunately and seemingly irredeemably enmeshed in through the devices of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government in the country.

But Delta State Governor, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa rolled out ambitious agricultural and business development programmes, with emphasis on grains’ cultivation and massive production of goods and services. The result of this sustained push is the quantum leap in availability of assorted commodities for the export market. This is the sense in which the case of the job and wealth creation scheme in Delta State deserves a closer study. It’s an advanced version of the Asian Tigers’ initiative, in that it focuses on a wider berth in the agriculture value chain. Beyond agriculture and the youth empowerment, initiatives by Governor Okowa include a new wave of skills’ acquisition, train­ing in entrepreneurship and ICT empowerment. This might well explain why Delta raced up the ladder in the national poverty-population chart and its export readiness.

Analysts ascribed the leap from poverty to prosperity, to the point of leaping towards global reckoning, to the deliberate business climate creation and engagement policy of the Okowa administration. Governor Okowa reeled out several initiatives to actualise his ‘Prosperity For All Deltans’ mantra, which has over the years assumed a momentum far beyond mere sloganeering. To achieve the feat, Governor Okowa created the Office of the Chief Job and Wealth Creation Officer (the first of its kind in Delta State), as a Special Purpose Vehicle to drive the job and wealth creation component of his vision of Prosperity for All Deltans. The office initiated three main programmes namely: Youth Ag­ricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP); Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) and Production and Processing Support Programme (PPSP), all aimed at diversify­ing the economy of the state and empowering the beneficiaries to become makers of the cake, rather than sharers of same. The programme has become a huge success to the acclamation of Deltans. The barometer for measuring the success of the pro­gramme is in the NBS 2020 statistics on poverty-population among the 36 states plus the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. The verdict: More Deltans have exited the bracket in Okowa’s barely five years as governor. The average annual growth rate in Delta State from 2013-2015 was 8.9 per cent, but growth accelerated at annual average of 13.2 per cent from 2015-2017. One remark­able social impact of the job creation programme is the mindset shift, among youths, from government (salaried) employment to entrepreneurship and self employment. Through the training and reorientation modules of STEP and YAGEP, the youths are imbibing the principles of skills acquisition and entrepreneurship as a viable employment option. They are now looking beyond and outside their academic certificates for employment and livelihoods, as owners and managers of skills-based enterprises.

For instance, the testimonies: Loveth Enyenakpor was jobless for nine years after graduation from the university. As one of the 2016/2017 Cycle beneficiaries trained and established in fish production, she has grown into a reputable farmer with specialty in catfish and fish feed production. Enyenakpor added another feather to her cap as she was enlisted into the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Foundation. “It is good news to be part of the Tony Elumeu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme”, she enthused. “Out of over 216,000 applicants from several African countries, I was among the 3,050 selected. No doubt, my training under the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) gave me an edge. I am grateful and I believe this is the beginning of my entrepreneurship journey.” The job creation programme is also impacting positively on the growth and development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSMEs) sector in the state. By providing services as training centres, facilitators and men­tors to the programme trainees, hundreds of small and medium enterprises have been stimulated and supported to upgrade their technical, entrepreneurial and managerial capacities, increase visibility/patronage and improve the quality of their services and achieve enterprise development.

The point must be made that the Okowa administration’s intervention programmes for economic empowerment and wealth creation was not limited to only YAGEP and STEP, the Job and Wealth creation scheme also has the Girls Entrepreneurship and Skills Training (GEST), one of the programmes organised by the Girl Child Empowerment Office. It aims to provide Delta girls between 18 and 30 years with training in various skills, as well as life building, business and entrepreneurial skills. The ultimate is to create a group of skilled and determined young female SME operators who will turn the state’s and country’s economy around. There’s also the Women Empowerment Programme designed to enhance the welfare of women in the state. Between 2016 and 2019, women have enjoyed various empowerment programmes as follows: 850 women trained in confectioneries and industrial production, 500 women empowered with cassava processing machine, oil processing machine and fish dryer, while PWDs and women living with HIV were also empowered by the Ministry of Women Affairs in 2019. It should also be noted that in 2020, Delta State Women Empowerment and Skills Acquisition Programme (WESAP) was created in line with Governor Okowa’s commitment towards ensuring the sustained empowerment of women in order to enhance economic status of families and peace in the state. So far, 460 women drawn from the 25 local govern­ment areas have completed their training under WESAP and presented with starter packs in their respective areas of vocation. Interestingly, the Job and Wealth Creation Scheme has helped to achieve financial inclusion in the state. The SMART agenda of the administration has surpassed every pillar of the agenda with pas­sion and commitment through strategically designed structures to empower the youth, girl child and women through the job and wealth creation programmes, culminating in the creation of over 100,000 direct and 1,000,000 indirect jobs.

What all these goes to show is the presence of a knowledge economy, on the match towards global reckoning: indeed, Shimite Bello, Executive Assistant to Delta State Governor on Export Initia­tive and Cordinator Delta-UNIDO Center, enthused that the state gov­ernment is committed to supporting exporters in the state financially and otherwise to ensure there is ‘zero rejection’ of their products at the international scene. This was as Obafemi Lawal, lead- programme coordination, sub-national engagement, monitoring and evaluation for the secretariat of the National Action Committee (NAC) on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), expressed excitement over what they had seen in Delta State, with the insistence that the state has moved ahead on the issue of taking made-in-Nigeria-products to the international market. Interestingly, that was at the end of the profiling of the non oil products with entrepreneurs in the three mandate sectors: fashion and textiles, arts/crafts and food/beverages. It was agreed that the finished goods were the result of a lot of creativity across the three major sectors. Indeed, it was adjudged that if Delta State continued at this rate, products from the state will dominate the African market soon. It had gone far by way of education and building of capacities of the exporters on standard and quality, hence, the products would make it successfully to the international market. Bello had this to day: “we have been profiling the export potentials. We started with those in fashion, arts and crafts, food and beverages and we observed that the exporters have tremendously improved from the level they were to a higher level. Bello’s office is vigorously involved in organising trainings for the exporters, on access to markets, access to finance, while the State Governor, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, is known to keep an eye on the sector, in ensuring that all those products from the state make it to the international market.

True to the spirit of economic diversification, Okowa had approved a relationship with the World Trade Centre in Florida and also, the segment that deals on African Trade, which is the National Center for African Development. The relevant state government agencies are also well represented at the national level, aimed at sensitising participants on standard and quality control for export. Subsequently, the follow­ing were observed to be the major objects of exports from Delta State, described by a major player in international ship as: “COMMONLY EXPORTED PRODUCTS FROM DELTA, NIGERIA TO THE U.S.A. They include, but not limited to some of the well sought after export com­modities around the globe: ginger- it is one of the most traded spices in the world, of which Nigeria happens to be among the largest producers. The Okowa narrative on export is fast addressing the question on why we were not exporting ginger in large quantity before now. It beckons on exporters to this business area where they can rake foreign exchange on regular basis. Textiles and Garments- the industry alone generates close to $32 billion revenue from export from Nigeria. It is also a fact that unlike other products that battle with high strict rules of tests, Nigeria’s textiles enjoy duty free passage into the United States, where it has the largest market in the world because of its unique designs, ethnic African designs and quality. Cocoa Butter- These are the real sources of chocolates of all types. The fruits of cocoa are used for the production of various skin care products, health products and pharmaceutical products. The demand for cocoa is very high in both America and the UK and that is why cocoa farming is now being taken very seriously. Gallstone- This is a clay-like solid substance gotten from the gallbladder of matured cows and oxen. The size could be as big as chicken eggs. Gallstone is a hotcake for foreign pharmaceuticals because they use it for medical purposes. If an exporter could lay their hand on a good quantity of well dried gallstone about 100g, which is well packaged, ready buyers are waiting for it in America and other countries. Rubber- Nigeria has put in place, proper central testing laboratories to ensure that only certified export products leave Nigeria to America. Nigeria, notably Delta State, happens to be a significant producer of rubber in Africa. A cubit meter of fine qual­ity rubber goes for between $400 and $600 presently because of the instability of the dollar rate in the market. Sesame Seed- although Sesame seeds can be found in quantity in places like Benue and Jigawa states in Nigeria, Bello disclosed the ingenuity displayed by Delta State by entering into partnership with some of the Northern states to procure a variety of commodities for exporters in Delta State . As for sesame seeds, it ranks second only to cocoa, in terms of export volume and foreign exchange earnings. Nigeria is the fifth largest producer of this commodity and Delta State has shown readiness to collaborate with states, which have the cli­matic and soil conditions to massively produce certain commodities. Honey- pure honey is another lucrative export product to the U.S.A. Presently, a kilogram of honey costs above $150 in the international markets. Pure natural honey contains trace enzymes, such as sugar, mineral, vitamins and amino acids. A litre of honey is said to fetch good dollars in the foreign market. Garlic- although a cash crop that is grown under irrigation by farmers in the Savanna areas in Nigeria, the training given to Delta State exporters comes in handy in harnessing internationally certified good quantities of garlic, which would be a ticket to amassing assorted hard currencies. Yam Flour- In 2009 alone, yam export accounted for about US$450 million exchange.

 With incidences of low quality and the national past failures to maximise its export potentials, Delta State represents a good les­son in doing something differently, so as to get a different result, notably with the Crop Training and Empowerment segment of the STEP programme. In the future, prospective exporters of yam and other crops could adhere to quality regulations that is guard­ing the process. STEP crop farmers are one group that could take this into consideration and tap from the opportunity. Charcoal-it is at the forefront of the international market. This product which is produced in good quantity with perfected technology, has about 50 per cent Return On Investment. Individuals now own charcoal production outfits and have exporters shipping it for them, just as it was gathered that a large market for charcoal exists in the U.S.A, where a tonne of this product goes for about $1000. Cotton- This sector recently received a boost from the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) of N33 mil­lion to rehabilitate it. Cotton is the most natural source of fiber and it is in demand internationally. Export of this product to the U.S. A. can fetch a lot of forex. Cassava Flour- Unarguably, Delta State is the cassava capital of Nigeria. It is a household item for all Nigerians because of various methods of preparing it. There is a huge market for this export product in the U.S.A. and other foreign markets as well, while in cashew nuts, Delta State is fast utilising its potential to produce this international commodity. A great quantity of unprocessed raw cashew nuts is targeted for export to the international market. In chili pepper, Delta State is blessed with ideal weather, which supports the proper growths and production of internationally accepted pepper. Exporters are realising that they can grow and source for export opportunities in this vital area, in addition to fruit juice, where huge export returns exists through fruit juice concentrates.

Delta State is home to so many naturally grown fruits, which provides the best of fruit juice products of great quality. Export­ers from Delta State are increasingly being made aware of the opportunity for fruits concentrates’ export to other countries. Besides raw goods and minerals, Africa and Nigeria, in particular, have a significant potential to boost their trade through exports from Delta State, to leading importers, including the United States of America (USA). Delta State is known to be particularly promising in categories, such as foods and fabrics. In recent times, unique export products from Delta State, such as local foodstuffs, fabrics and spices have become promising business opportunities in the international markets, while other types of products, which present unique opportunities for entrepreneurs engaged in exports, have comparative advantage in Delta State. While exporting goods from Delta State to the U.S.A. presents an attractive market, the state is aware of the technical side, known as compliance and that is why the Okowa Administration is out to bridge that gap for exporters in the state, to enable exporters meet the necessary compliance and FDA requirements for export of products to the United States of America. Having trouble ex­porting from Delta State? Do you want cheap and reliable means of exporting from Delta State? Have you experienced hassles in the past while shipping /exporting your products? The Okowa administration through its UNIDO Office is providing answers to these questions, to the relief of exporters from the state.

Shimite Bello and her team trains exporters on Quality Assurance, which goes a long way in ensuring that exported goods conform to safety measures, as stated by international conventions and possibly the usual agreed terms of many export contracts). It teaches exporters to use internationally recognised bodies, as very germane to a successful export, depending on the nature of the products that one is exporting from Delta State. Should the international scene be filled with numerous pitfalls, Delta State gained increased traction, towards becoming an exporting giant of repute, by way of making Africa the centerpiece of the current export leap of the Okowa administration. No stone is left unturned in partnering the Federal Government on the domestication of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, an assurance Okowa gave to the Federal Government Trade delegation led by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Niyi Adebayo, in Asaba. But the Federal Government should quickly address the issues of high cost of fund and poor power supply in the country, as well as the bottlenecks associated with export trading and constraints against entry by new exporters.

Okowa had this to say: “It is of great interest to us and I am glad you are moving from state to state to sensitise them well enough and to enable us collectively take advantage of the agreement to boost trade in the country. There is no doubt that in preparing to ensure that more states get into the market, we will welcome this collaboration because it will enhance productivity once we have access to the market. We have tended to stay satisfied with crude oil without actually developing it in a way that it becomes more useful to us. We are glad that this relationship is coming at this time because it will actually stimulate and expand production, thereby creating room for greater employment and people will make more money. When more and more people get employed, there is less insecurity because when you take off more people from the unemployment market, you have less people available for criminal tendencies. We hope that the issue of cost of fund and power supply will be addressed because it leads to a high cost of production and it will affect producers in such a way that their products cannot compete favourably’’, he stated.

Amidst the export leap, Okowa does not wish Delta State to develop in isolation. Hence, he was at the forefront of the South-South states’ forum to deepen the quest for diversified economies through the export market. Although the three-day economic diversification workshop organised by the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), held in Asaba, Delta State, had come and gone, its success will certainly yield great fruits as envisaged. Firstly, the regional components, notably Delta State, are positioning their states to tap the enormous potential of non oil export that the region is blessed with, but which hitherto, were begging for urgent attention from both local and foreign investors. Tagged: “NEXIM-South-South Export Enlightenment and Engagement Forum”, there was no doubt that Delta State, in particular and the region in general, is now better enlightened on what to do to realise the non oil and gas economic opportunities in the region and how best to tap them for the benefit of the people. Inter­estingly, the programme afforded the state govern­ments of the South-South geo-political zone an opportunity to showcase the abundant mineral and natural resources, just as investors were encouraged to take advantage of the export trade potential that abound in the states.

The host governor, Okowa, in his welcome address, stated that activities would soon begin at the Kwale Industrial Park (KIP) in Ndokwa West Council Area, as methanol and transmis­sion tower manufacturing firms have indicated readiness to set up plants in the state. He stated further, “Our investment drive have started paying off; our state has commenced the process of the Kwale Industrial Park located along Ughelli- Asaba Expressway. It is expected to drive my administra­tion’s industrialisation agenda, as the park has the potential to be Nigeria’s biggest location for gas and energy intensive manufacturing, such as ceramics, rubber and methanol. We engaged in a successful road show in China, which will bring about the establishment of a methanol manufacturing plant at the park within the next few months, while pulp and paper will also be manufactured at the park. As a demonstration of the state government’s faith in the viability of the project and as an incentive to prospective investors, the state government approved $10 million seed fund for partnership with interested investors in the KIP. What is more? The Delta State Government has earmarked $5 million as seed capital for the establishment of a transmission tower manufacturing plant being promoted by ENFRASCO Limited. The project, which would be located at Issele-Uku, comprises the establishment of a manufacturing plant for power transmission, telecommunication masts, hot dip galvanising plant, tower testing and certification facility, as well as a research facility training school with focus on fabrication and distribution skills.

“This commitment on the part of the state government serves to de-risk investments and give assurance to prospec­tive investors. We call for diversification of the nation’s econ­omy from oil and gas. Evidently, this distorted mono product economy does not bode well for inclusive economic growth and sustainable development, as oil is a depleting resource.” Still on the road to export, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, had posited that the state government is partnering with farmers in the state to commence export of plantain and garri flour to the United Kingdom. As Okowa noted, Delta State has comparative advantage in the crop and ranked best within the country in the production of plantain and garri, a by-product of cassava. Said he: “Plans are at advanced stage to ensure that Delta joins agricultural crop exporters; we are looking at the possibility of exporting yellow and white garri and plantain flour to the UK. The export programme will facilitate and improve agricultural production activities in the rural areas, in respect of cassava production and plantain, thereby reversing the trend of rural-urban migration. The state’s agricultural programmes are tilted to the rural areas, which had encouraged and empowered many youths, women and retirees in returning to farm­ing. Seventy five per cent of the state’s population reside in the rural communities and this administration has put up programmes to develop youths and women through agricultural empowerment programmes.

“We are creating an enabling environment for our rural farmers through rural electrification, water and beautifica­tion projects across the 25 local government areas of the state. Rural-urban migration is a threat to food security and as the youths migrate to the urban centres, they leave farming to the elderly and aged farmers in the rural areas; this is also a challenge to the urban centres. So, we must develop the rural areas to make migration to the urban centres less attractive and to invest in food security.” Indeed, garri exports from Delta State would boost commercial farming in the state. Four garri processing units and a garri factory now exist in the state, all for the sake of processing, packaging, labeling, branding and sealing of the product for export. The product: “Delta Quality Garri for Export”, has been launched, thereby unveiling the product which comes in a 2kg sachet and a 10kg bag and therefore, places the state in the national map, as a garri exporting state. The launch was part of the activities marking the 2019 edition of the state’s job creation product exhibition, where YAGEP/ STEP trainees showcased their products for the public to see and to patronise them. It would be recalled that on assumption of office in 2015, the State Governor, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa had expressed regret that farmers in the state had been more into subsistence farming. “We want to take it away from that to more of a business amongst our people”, he had asserted. With that burden, he ensured that the State Executive Council approved of the Project Management Committee, chaired by the Chief Job Creation Officer of the state, Prof. Eric Eboh and they were charged with the implementation of the production of high quality garri. The central objective of the state government was to create sustainable and assured market for the state’s agri­cultural products based on fair prices. Later on, Eboh said the Project Management Committee achieved a milestone in three main areas namely: human resource capacities for the production of high quality, exportable garri in Delta State; in the area of export infrastructural development, the initiative was able to establish the automated factory for the packaging, labelling, branding and sealing of high quality garri in Delta State. The four processing units for the processing of the high quality garri are Owa-Alero, Nte-Enugu, Abavo and Urokpor. Bello again held that, “For us to get to where we are in terms of cassava, we had to involve our time, we had to go to the Nigeria Export Promotion Council and found out what was needed. We also looked at the Federal Government’s zero initiative to engage with them and see what and what were the aspects. We also consulted with NAFDAC to ensure that they checked the quality of the cassava.

Tentatively, Bello demonstrated that, “the Delta/UNIDO Centre and Export Initiative, has kicked off export activities in the state and has spurred Deltans to embrace export as a major business, as the state makes efforts to demystify the business.

“The business believed to be exclusively for few people and particularly men, is now made to also welcome women, youths, farmers and cooperatives, even people living with disabilities, amongst others in the state. Interested persons would be engaged in export activities in one way or the other as it is projected to be the hottest business in the oil-rich state, as the state diversifies its economy. Already, 200 export­ers in the state have been identified for establishment and scale-up and they are profiled into Women in Export, Youth in Export, Brown Exporters and Green Exporters, as well as inaugurating the executives of the Delta State Export Clus­ters. The exporters are categorised as Merchant Exporters, Manufacturer Exporters, Service Exporters/Project Exporters and Deemed Exporters. 10, 000 Exporters have also been profiled for supply chain of the commodities produced in the state, using the cooperatives and farmers. At least, 100,000 Deemed Exporters are targeted across the state. We are projecting sales to be about N20 billion within five years. In the short-term plan, the state would begin leatherworks export, food and beverages processing for export, profiling arts and crafts for export, identifying fashion and textile for export and consolidating on garri export.

“We’ve only done the pilot, which is the garri, but I’ve found out that we have been exporting to West Africa and one of our biggest market is Ghana. We are saying we want to see more people export to the different countries, especially the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region and eventually do proper African trade. We want to do more African trade because a lot of the things we do, like plantain, oranges, periwinkles, crabs yield high earnings and we want to see how that can be done.”

Bello’s office also engaged the exporters in online trainings within over three months of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) lockdown. “Those who could not export, even after the trainings could supply to major markets in Delta towns and cities. There are four types of exporters and every kind of Deltan can succeed. The Manufacturer Exporters do clothes, soap, garri, plantain flour and the rest of it. The Merchant Exporters include the people that supply to the markets, like Ogbeogonogo in Asaba, but the rest, are involved. We want to see how much of the products we can put on ship and send to New York or London as well, so that we can get foreign exchange from whatever sales they are able to make. The Service Exporters are people that do architectural work. You can see that presently, some people go online and buy architectural designs, but most of them are not Nigerians, yet we have Nigerian architects. So, we encourage these export­ers to put a hundred designs online and then people see the teaser of the designs. They would have payment solutions online. They can also start selling and once somebody buys and the buyer does not live in Nigeria, it becomes foreign exchange. It is counted as export and there are some grants you can get on that.”

She wants the youths to maximise the opportunities and earn foreign exchange while making use of Google and Zoom through Information Technology (IT). “When you use Zoom and you are paid some money after exporting, you are making foreign exchange. We have Cooperatives, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the rest. They are what we call Deemed Exporters. They are people that supply to export markets, not actual exporters. So, let’s say you’re an entrepreneur and you have an order for two containers, maybe you have enough products to fill one container; you might look for people that you can buy from to fill the export market.” She recalled that the Delta State Government, had an agreement with the Nigerian Export and Import (NEXIM) Bank for N1 billion and expressed happiness that about four exporters in the state got approval for money from the bank to fund their International Purchase Orders (IPOs), while 53 were awaiting approvals by the bank, having met the required criteria for the funds.

Here is the payoff: The size of Delta State’s economy has risen by 51 per cent in four years, with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hitting N4.471 trillion in 2019, from N2.961 trillion in 2015, with crude oil and gas playing lesser role in driving economic growth in Delta State. Hence, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is deserving of kudos, for not just promising Prosperity, but driving it on a fertile ground, on which he has delivered prosperity for the present and for posterity. Looking back, it was through a most pioneering and impact­ful vista of a self evident Agenda for a Stronger Delta State, as well as the manifesto to rebuild a country shattered by an unwanted change, which does but make Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa and his presidential principal, Alhaji Atiku Abubabar, deserving of a higher national assignment, with the support of Nigerians, come May 29, 2023.

Read also
11 Ways To Keep Your Teeth Healthy
Mar 24, 2023
As Nigeria’s Judges Get Set To Begin Voting
Mar 24, 2023
INEC Takes The Hand Of Democracy Back
Mar 24, 2023
Alice Was Pursuing IVF But Caught Up With PGT
Mar 24, 2023
Journey To Delta Govt House Culminates Today With One Winner
Mar 24, 2023
Fuel Scarcity: NMDPRA Calls ‘Planned’ PMS Price Hike, A Mere Rumour
Mar 24, 2023
Nigerians Hit By Rent Hike As Vacancies Dwindle
Mar 15, 2023
IWD: Women Cry Out Against Spike In Domestic Violence
Mar 24, 2023
Shell Links Rivers Explosion To Oil Theft , Regrets Loss Of Lives
Mar 08, 2023
NNPCL Attributes Fuel Queues To Movement Restrictions For Elections
Mar 08, 2023
Okowa’s Legacy Of Roads, Bridges & Flyovers, Etc
Mar 24, 2023
Okowa’s Promised Realisation Of A Better Dawn In The Niger Delta
Jan 24, 2023
How ‘Finishing Strong’ Agenda Qualifies Okowa For VP Slot, Higher National Assignment
Jan 17, 2023
How Okowa Is Preparing Delta For Prosperity Beyond 2023
Dec 27, 2022
Okowa’s Legacy Projects: Koka Flyover, Many Others And The Need For Continuity
Dec 20, 2022
Okowa’s Infrastructure Model: A Solid Plan For National Recovery Okowa’s Infrastructure Model: Solid Plan For National Recovery
Dec 13, 2022
Plan For Recovery: Analysis Of Okowa’s Experience In Prosperity Creation
Mar 24, 2023
The Niger Delta Question And Okowa’s Recipe For A Better Region
Nov 22, 2022
Asaba Stadium And Projects’ Delivery In General: Separating Facts From Fiction
Nov 15, 2022
Proofs That Okowa’s Fulfilling Promises, Deserving Of VP’s Role
Nov 08, 2022
Make a comment