•Lists obstacles to revamping moribund industries in Abia
BY STANLEY AHUKANNA in Umuahia•
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia State has said that the popular Enyimba Hotel was sold for N16 million just as he said that the concessioning of state-owned industries by previous governments was the major obstacle militating against efforts by his administration to revamp the moribund industries.
Ikpeazu made this known while briefing the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), South East Zone and heads of media Houses in the Zone at the Governor’s Lodge in Aba.
Many have been wondering why government could not bring back to life, industries like Enyimba Hotels, Aba, Golden Guinea Breweries and Modern Ceramics, both located in Umuahia, to provide jobs for the teeming youths. But Ikpeazu says the concessioning have made government a “helpless by-stander.”
He said one of the administrations in the state, which he did not identify, sold off Enyimba Hotels, Aba for N16 million to Aba Chamber of Commerce, at period when members of the chamber owned major hotels in Aba; and wondered how the hotel could have survived.
“So many years ago, a certain government that was in Abia, decided to sell off Enyimba Hotels. Mbakwe built Enyimba Hotel; the same time he built Concorde (Hotel, Owerri), which has rendered excellent services to the people of the South East. But if you go to Enyimba Hotels, lunatics have lived there for many years,” he said. He said efforts made to recover the hotel have proved abortive.
In the case of Golden Guinea Breweries concessioned to one Okey Ezenwa, Ikpeazu said efforts were in top gear to revive the brewery as German engineers were working to rebuild the facility.
Hopes were high that Golden Guinea could start production last December but the dream was shattered by high exchange rate, adding that Okey is currently seeking for a loan from the Bank of Industry to facilitate the revamping project.
Explaining the situation at Modern Ceramics concessioned to the Catholic Church, the governor said that the Church, using experts from Italy, worked hard to revamp Modern Ceramics but it took a loan, which undermined its efforts.
“They Church borrowed about N250 million which interest now is more than N1.5 billion now. A certain banker, I will not mention his name, that was working in Diamond Bank, roped the Catholic Church into a deal that they can no longer extricate themselves from,” he said.
He said government was taking steps to see if it could pay the interest by instalments and exit the church from the shylock facility, while it would continue to use the contacts of the church to get experts from Italy.
He said his administration has embarked on the Enyimba Economic City, sitting on a 9, 000 hectares of land, describing it as the “most audacious and ambitious project” to industrialise Abia.
He said that Abia would tap into the N10 billion provided for infrastructure in the 2018 federal government budget to drive the project, stressing that it would “change the socio-economic landscape of not only the South East but Nigeria.”