As part of efforts to promote made-in-Aba products, Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has disclosed that 30 shoemakers from the state would be departing for the People’s Republic of China for training to acquire more knowledge in their field.
The shoemakers who would be departing for China on Friday, 5 for a 30-day automated shoe training programme, are majorly from Ariaria International market, Aba.
On Thursday, January 4, Governor Ikpeazu sent forth the 30 artisans. According to Gov. Ikpeazu, they were the 1st batch of 100 shoemakers from Abia State to undergo intensive training in automated shoemaking technology in China.
Upon their return, the state government would procure the full range of equipment required for the trainees to set up an Abia State Automated Shoe Factory in Aba. Immediately this first batch returns, another batch will depart for the same purpose.
In the bid to ensure that Abia State consolidates its status as the pre-eminent destination for leatherworks in Nigeria, the governor stated that the youths would form the nucleus of the workforce in the shoe factory which shall be commissioned before June 2018.
He added that the automated shoe factory shall also serve as an enabler of the diligent work the manual producers have been doing over the years.
“It is important that I highlight the fact that 3 of the youths traveling are not from Abia State but are resident in Aba and are fully involved in shoemaking. This underscores our commitment to ensuring a fair deal for every resident and tax-payer of Abia State irrespective of origin,” Ikpeazu said.
He also announced that “one of our recently inaugurated Commissioners, Mr. Thadeus Izuogu is from Imo State, and he is expected to coordinate the interests and participation of other Nigerians that are resident or doing business in Abia State”.
Governor Ikpeazu charged the trainees to be of good behavior, learn every single step and bring back the knowledge for others to learn.
“I’m sending you to China with a lot of confidence. Others will be going after you, don’t block their access. You are our ambassadors in China, be worthy ambassadors and pay attention to your reason for going to China. God will see you through and it will be well with you,” he said.
The governor also stated that Abia has been paying its counterpart funds and noted he has unlocked hundreds of millions of dollars in hitherto trapped funds for the development of the state.
“The prognosis indicates that 2018 will be better than 2017 in terms of our business climate. We must take full advantage of the Federal Government Executive Order No. 3 which underscores the need to patronize Made-In-Nigeria as a priority. We remain grateful to Ford Foundation and TBWA Concepts for placing Abia and our Small-Scale Manufacturing Skills on the World Map through CNN Adverts. The provision of steady power to some parts of Ariaria International Market through the Rural Electrification Agency will catalyze rapid development and enhance the economy of our artisans,” Gov. Ikpeazu said.
The Governor’s made-in-Aba campaign has caught National and international attention such that even manufacturers and tailors across Nigeria now struggle to identify their brands as “Aba made”.
International organizations like Ford Foundation have also sponsored global marketing campaigns for Made in Aba brands at CNN, among others, at no cost to the government of Abia State.
The Federal Government of Nigeria, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, has also keyed into the Made in Aba agenda with policy support and physical actions such as ensuring that 10,000 shops at Ariaria International Market now have steady power supply courtesy of Rural Electrification Agency of Nigeria. An executive order was also signed by the Presidency to ensure that only goods without Aba made alternatives are procured by the agencies of government.