Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has disclosed that many foreign investors have indicated interest in the multi billion naira Entrepreneur Skill Acquisition and Manufacturing Factory project at Issele-Uku, even as he assured that that the state-of-the art modern Skill Acquisition and Manufacturing Factory project would be commissioned in the next few weeks.
Speaking when he led members of the State Executive Council on an inspection visit to the Skill Acquisition and Manufacturing Factory project, Governor Uduaghan said that international and local investors have shown interest in partnering with the Centre in leather works, palmwine brewing, garri processing and the traditional Anioma akwa-ocha production.
Governor Uduaghan, who stated that the entrepreneurial development centre was sponsored by the Delta State government in conjunction with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), described the project as one that would empower the youths in the state and produce future entrepreneurs.
The governor who was taken round the sprawling project centre spanning more two hectares of land, by the Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation, Dr Antonia Ashiedu, noted that the centre was initially designed for shoe manufacturing and leather works but due to interests by investors, it has been expanded to accommodate the production of other items, including Akwa-Ocha, bottling of Palm Wine, and other micro and medium scale ventures.
“You have seen a lot of machines that will be used in the production of leather works and akwa-ocha. These will be used for both training and production of leather works. Our products will be used both locally and internationally as a lot of local and foreign investors have indicated interest in the products from this factory/centre”, the governor stated.
Speaking further Governor Uduaghan added that “Clark of England, Giorgio Armani, FIIRO, M.I.T, Massachusetts, Cambridge University are some of those who want to use our products and partner with us.
“I am happy that we have recorded successes. I am happy we have reached this stage. This is a training centre for the manufacturing of all sorts of leather works and it has been expanded to accommodate other products that are not leather,” the Governor said.
The Delta Governor who further added that, “this training institution is part of the achievements in the area of Delta Beyond Oil and a lot of entrepreneurs will be trained here”, equally called on the youths to always protect projects in their areas and commended the people of Issele-Uku, especially, the youths for their peaceful disposition to the project and for protecting projects located in their area, admonishing other youths in the state to emulate them.
On the sustainability of the project, Governor Uduaghan who disclosed that the Delta State government provided the funds for the project while UNIDO is providing the technical expertise, including the construction, assured Deltans that there is an agency, The Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, which is overseeing the programme to ensure its sustainability, even as he expressed confidence that the incoming administration of Dr Okowa (Delta State Governor-elect) will improve on it.
He said, “UNIDO has provided machines that will make the weaving of Akwa-Ocha faster and there are other agencies that are interested and are investing in this project.”
Dr. Uduaghan explained that the centre was one of the gains of the state Delta Beyond Oil initiative and would enable some of the beneficiaries of the state micro credit scheme to become small and medium enterpreneurs.
The governor particularly endorsed the production of agro produce like garri as part of the factory as it would solve some of the challenges faced by farmers in the state adding that “the centre will breach the gap between the farmer and the end users as it will take care of the excess supply, encourage price stability and more production to take care of the factory export needs”.
In her own comments, Dr Ashiedu who took the Governor and his team round the factory complex and through the show rooms, factories, bakeries, among facilities, explained that apart from UNIDO, some other recognized agencies such as FIIRO were equally partnering with the factory in the production of Palm wine, garri, akwa-ocha, and leather products.
Dr. Antonia Ashiedu, who was appointed as the pioneer Executive Secretary of the agency of the Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, when Governor Uduaghan signed the bill to change the Delta State Micro Credit Programme, DMCP, into an agency in October 2014, holds a Doctorate Degree in Political Science with bias for International Relations and Development Finance.
An alumnus of the prestigious University of Ibadan, Dr. Antonia Ashiedu, also attended University of Lagos, University of Abuja, Oxford University, United Kingdom, Harvard Kennedy School, United States of America and London School of Economics in United Kingdom, has also served on Committees on Poverty Alleviation issues, with different multilateral agencies.
She was a Member of the Committee that prepared the National Poverty Alleviation Policy for Nigeria in 1997. She was appointed Consultant to Delta State Government, Nigeria, to prepare a blueprint and conduct a Baseline Study for the Micro-Credit Programme for the twenty five Local Government Areas in 2004 and is equally a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Industry Micro Finance Bank.
Dr. Ashiedu, was appointed Delta State Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation, on July 6th, 2011, a position she held until October 20, 2014, when the DMCP was transformed into a full fledged agency by legislation and she became the pioneer Executive Secretary of The Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, which will oversee the multi billion naira Entrepreneur Skill Acquisition and Manufacturing Factory project at Issele-Uku.
The agency was established by legislation, according to Governor Uduaghan, to “ensure the protection of our micro credit programme for which we have put in a lot and is beneficial to the people at the lowest rungs in society. Since 2007 a lot of our activities have been targeted at the pro poor, this enabled us to deal with the Delta Beyond oil at that level. Now we have an agency that will protect our micro credit activities,” the governor had said while signing the bill for the agency into law.
She then thanked the Governor for his commitment to the success of the project, adding that the factory/centre was designed to be self-supporting with a lot of anxiliary services like garri packaging and exportation, palm wine processing and packaging and leather works.
Responding on behalf of the host community, Chairman of Aniocha North local government area of the state, Hon. Chuks Oseme expressed confidence that the project would absorb most of the teeming youths of the area, and thanked the Governor for citing the project in Issele-Uku, even as he assured that the youths will continue to contribute to ensure the success of the project.
Governor Uduaghan was accompanied on the inspection tour of the the multi billion naira Entrepreneur Skill Acquisition and Manufacturing Factory project at Issele-Uku, by serving Commissioners in the state, including the Commissioner for Information, Barr. Chike Ogeah, Commissioner for Works, Hon. Solomon Funkekeme, Commissioner for Agriculture Prof. Patrick Muogboghare, Commissioner for Finance Olorogun Kenneth Okpara and Commissioner, Special Duties, Government House, Sir Tony Obuh, amongst others.
Below are more photos of the epoch making inspection tour.