Recently, Geometric Power finally acquired the Aba ring-fenced area from Integrated Electricity Ltd, a core investor in EEDC thereby ending a nine-year legal bout over the rightful owner of the power project.
With that bout over and ending in favour of Geometric Power, the regular power supply is assured for the city of Aba and its environs which have grown even more famously as the commercial nerve centre and technological hub of not only the southeast but also that of the entire Nigeria under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
This enviable fame which has made Abia the destination of choice for both local and foreign investors has been vigorously reinforced by the single-mindedness of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu in his deliberate policies and actions to ensure that Abia makes the most of its comparative advantage in trade, commerce and technology.
To this end, discerning investors who rise above the noise of politically motivated criticisms have been taking advantage of the peaceful atmosphere, political stability, industrial harmony, tax reliefs, bustling human capital, rising infrastructure advancement and other favourable socioeconomic conditions that have been, and are still being put in place by the Ikpeazu administration.
Some time ago, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was subjected to all manner of ridicule by otherwise intelligent and obviously shallow-minded individuals who have always found it impossible to rise beyond their emotions to appreciate the globally acknowledged critical roles of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the economic growth and development of any society.
On that occasion, Governor Ikpeazu had expressed excitement at the accelerated rate some SMEs had invested in Aba in particular and Abia State in general, almost in one fell swoop, attributing this to the efforts of his government to create the needed favourable conditions to not only attract investors but also ensure their businesses thrive. He went ahead to mention Domino’s Pizza, Chicken Republic, Market Square etc as some of the notable SMEs that the policies of his administration have attracted to the state.
However, while Abia and Abians have been reaping the fruits of these investments, armchair critics went to town with a warped narrative that Ikpeazu was celebrating what they termed “insignificant investments”. As “insignificant” as these investments might appear, they are indications that Abia is ripe and attractive to investors as no investors would take their investments to environments where factors including government policies and actions are not deliberately favourable.
Also, the positive economic effects of such investments cannot be overemphasised. While critics were being mischievous, Abia youths were being positively engaged by these SMEs; property owners and agents in the state were smiling to the bank, and those in the building industry are not left out. Perhaps, the biggest of all the benefits is that local farmers and manufacturers now have more outlets to sell their goods and services especially when an outlet like Market Square practices the “buy local” initiative that supports goods and services in their business locations.
While mentioning them singly might not evoke the sense of importance usually associated with SMEs, it has been proven that this category of businesses accounts for a whopping 48% of national GDP, 96% of businesses generally and 84% of employment, including accounting for 50% of industrial jobs nationwide (source: National Bureau of Statistics). Little wonder Abia under the watch of Governor Ikpeazu rose from the ashes to become the third most attractive destination for foreign investors in Nigeria as the state raked in a staggering $56.1m in 2020 trailing only after Lagos and Abuja. And this wasn’t fortuitous as the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) once awarded Abia as one of the only four states that have made giant strides in the Ease Of Doing Business index. This was after the World Bank had also confirmed the same. So which governor will not relish these globally acknowledged achievements on television and everywhere?
These surely lay the foundation for the entrance of larger corporations into the state.
It is therefore not surprising that Geometric Power had to go the whole hog to ensure the peaceful resolution of its tussle for the Aba ring-fenced area power project with Integrated Electricity Ltd. The anticipated sumptuous return on investment for an area like Aba with improved infrastructure and thousands of active consumers including SMEs is such that Geometric, like every other discerning investor, would not let go.
According to reports, with over 140km of new powerlines, four brand new substations, 27km-long gas pipelines from Shell company flow station at Owaza in Ukwa West LGA of the state to the power station at Osisioma, the $500m Geometric/Aba power plant can produce and distribute about 141 megawatts of electricity in its first phase.
Let it be stated clearly that it is the same factors, as provided by the government, that have been attracting hordes of SMEs to Abia that have also given Geometric the impetus to pursue the resolution of this deal to its logical conclusion.
With such humongous singular investment and all its attendant multiplier effect on the state, one wonders why those who laughed at Abia yesterday over the commendable influx of SMEs into the State have suddenly become eerily quiet?
The truth is that we have a Governor in Abia who had since set out his priorities from Day One and moulded them into his Five Pillars of Development: Education, Agriculture, Commerce, Industry and Oil & Gas, all in which Abia has a comparative advantage. And to drive these Pillars of Development into fruition, the Governor outlined the Enablers through which to achieve this. They are Security, Education, Health, Infrastructure, Ease of Doing Business and Tax Reforms.
And the results are showing!
So, while armchair and shallow-minded critics have embarked on a journey of misplaced mockery, Abians are revelling in the new economic frontier that Abia is fast becoming under the dexterous watch of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, PhD, who, by all indications, is certain to finish strong!
•Jude Ndukwe can be reached on: