Akwa Ibom reiterates commitment to revamp ailing industries
By; Patrick Titus, Uyo.
Elijah Akpan, chairman of Akwa Ibom State Investment Corporation (AKICORP) said government’s vision towards job and wealth creations is anchored on revamping all state’s owned ailing and moribund industries.
Dr. Akpan stated this during interaction with members of Agriculture & Allied Employees Union of Nigeria, Akwa Palm branch at his office in Uyo.
He disclosed that group of foreign investors who were in the state recently on a business trip, inspected Akwa Palm plantation with the view to resuscitating the company which had been moribund.
While allaying fears by the Akwa Palm workers’ of being laid off, the AKICORP Boss assured them of the fact that even with investors coming in to invest in the Industry, their jobs were secured and all benefits due them would be fully paid.
He charged the workers to put in their best in the soon-to-take-off Akwa Palm Industries Ltd. On the issue of their retrenched colleagues, Dr. Akpan pledged to table their requests before the State Governor.
Akwa Palm Industries Ltd., before its current declined status, was the major producer of palm oil and its allied products for cooking and industrial uses.
Earlier in an address, branch secretary of the union, Mr. Chris Udokang, described Akwa Palm as the only state government-owned Industry with holdings in the three senatorial districts of the state.
Located in Etebi, Esit Eket; Ntak Inyang Obio Akpa, Oruk Anam; Iwere in Ini Local government areas with head office in Uyo, Mr. Udokang said that the Industry was capable of generating revenue and as well as job opportunities.
The Plantations, he said, were established in 1988 with World Bank assistance and covers 1,222; 56 and 1000 hectares in Esit Eket, Oruk Anam and Ini Local Government Areas respectively.
According to him, all the plantations were fully grown, mature and yielding, but had suffered years of neglect, thereby, leading to the partial retrenchment of 552 of its workers and, subsequently overgrown with vegetation and encroachment by host communities.
He suggested the need to recover the 1,278 hectares of the plantations from host communities, provision of adequate security personnel around the estates, settlement of unpaid claims, clean up and provision of permanent operational offices, as well as retooling of the Industry.
Udokang, therefore, prayed for the urgent resumption of operations in what he described as “this RED GOLD Industry”, while pledging the staff readiness to put in their best and co-operate with the incoming investors.
In his contributions, chairman of the union, Dr. Matthew Essien, appealed to Governor Udom Emmanuel to absorb staff of Akwa Palm Industries Ltd into the main stream of the state civil service.