…As Vice President visits Onitsha, Nnewi industrial layouts
From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
President Muhammadu Buhari may have heard enough of the prowess of the businessmen and women in Anambra State, particularly the manufacturers.
Therefore, the President recently sent out his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to Anambra State to visit major manufacturers and bring back word to him.
And what the Vice President saw on his fact-finding visit was cheering as he could not hide his joy over what the entrepreneurs in the state had done.
He specifically noted that entrepreneurs in Onitsha and Nnewi have given hope to many unemployed youths in the country, promising that the Federal Government would support them to continue to help the government in creating employment, especially for youths.
Osinbajo, on arrival in Anambra State, had performed the groundbreaking ceremony of Eastern Distilleries and Food Industries Limited, makers of non-alcoholic premium brand, in Onitsha, the commercial hub of Anambra State.
He was accompanied to the groundbreaking ceremony by Governor Willie Obiano and Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Productivity.
The premium beverage factory, which is located at Harbour Industrial Estate, Onitsha, when completed would employ over 800 people and provide indirect employment to over 2,500 others.
The Vice President, while laying the foundation stone of the facility, expressed happiness over the resilience and fortitude of Chris Oranu Chidume, managing director of Eastern Distilleries and Food Industries Limited, saying that he has done well even in the face of extreme difficulty.
He described the Eastern Distilleries and Food Industries Limited as a unique company that would become great in the country and commended the management and staff of the company for steering it successfully to its present state.
Osinbajo said he was in Onitsha on the instruction of President Buhari and promised that the Federal Government would support entrepreneurs in the country to continue to assist government in creating employment for the people.
His words: “I have seen the sheer enterprise that is going on in this place, the business acumen, the entrepreneurial skills, and it has become very clear that this is truly the hot-bed of industrialisation in Nigeria and I am very pleased to see all of these.
“I am here on behalf of Mr. President to see for myself firsthand the types of industries that are going on locally and, of course, we have chosen to come here first because this is one of the most active places in the country.
“In whatever way we can assist we will and we are already discussing with Governor Willie Obiano, who has laid out so many things he expects us to do and, hopefully, we will be able to do them.
“You could also notice that I came along with the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, because job creation is so important to this administration.
“So, I am excited to be here, I have seen a lot and I will be reporting back to Mr. President and whatever we can do to support the Harbour Industrial Estate in Onitsha and other industrial estates in the country, we will do it.”
He also applauded the entrepreneurial capabilities of the management and staff of Krisoral & Company Limited for keeping on their business despite the economic recession in the country.
Osinbajo went on a tour of the ultra-modern factories owned by Krisoral & Company Limited, even as Obiano, who was also visibly impressed with activities at the site, observed that the company would continue to grow to provide employment for the people of Anambra State, which was re-echoed by the minister of Labour and Productivity.
Group Managing Director, Krisoral Group of Companies, Chris Oranu Chidume, while guiding the Vice President and his entourage on a tour of the Roll-On-Pilfer-Proof (ROPP) and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) closure factories, explained that the firm has scaled up the capacity of its plants, from two billion caps per annum to four billion caps per annum; an increase of 100 per cent.
He explained that Krisoral & Company Limited produces ROPP caps of different dimensions, HDPE caps, which come in carbonated or non-carbonated formsm printed or plain of different colours and in the sizes of 28mm, 30mm and 41.5mm.
The company also produces drug dispensing cups and PVC shrink labels.
“It is the first indigenous company in Nigeria to have full process of ROPP cap and the only company today that has top and side embossments technology. The factories directly employs about 120 staff and indirectly employs over 800 persons,” he said.
Oranu also explained that the capacities of the two plants as at 2012 were about two billion caps per annum, which has now been upgraded to about four billion caps per annum, stressing that a lot of expansion has occurred between 2012, the year they were commissioned by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and now, 2016.
This capacity, according to Oranu, is enough to relieve companies in Nigeria, especially pharmaceutical and beverage companies, of the rigours and stress of importing closures from abroad.
He noted that many people may not know that such a facility exists locally and thus may still be importing, complaining that the Central Bank of Nigeria is strangulating their businesses “by not giving them funds to import, in other words, paying more for less.”
He, therefore, called on the end user companies to utilize this opportunity to add value to their business, pointing out that what they are looking for overseas are here at their doorstep.
Osinbajo also visited the Pokobros Group of Companies, where he commended the manufacturers and industrialists in Onitsha, and other parts of Anambra State for job creation through their companies.
The VP urged Nigerians to emulate Anambra businessmen and others that have invested in the country to create job and empower the youths through industries and factories and by s doing contributing to the GDP of the country.
In his remarks, chairman of Harbour Industrial Layout Association and MD of Pokobros, Chief P.A. Okonkwor, told the Vice President that their major problem was power supply, which affects factorie’ steady production, adding that most often they pay bills for electricity they do not consume.
Other problems, he said, include foreign exchange control measures of the CBN as he requested direct window for manufacturers; flooding, export process zone, the Second Niger Bridge, which he said would ease the flow of movement in and out of Onitsha.
Okonkwor also called on the Federal Government to review the current lists of goods whose forex financing were excluded from the official forex market by the CBN, saying some of the items were critical input to manufacturing operations where there were no local manufacturer/suppliers.
The VP also visited Nnewi, where he inaugurated Rimco Refinery/Fractionation Plant, belonging to the Chicason Group.
He described the CEO of Chicason, Dr. Chika Okafor, as the biggest industrialist in Africa.
According to Osinbajo, “the Federal Government has adopted a policy of buying locally manufactured goods and it is doing this by patronising vehicles manufactured by Innoson Vehicle Motors (IVM), Nnewi, and the Federal Executive Council approved the purchase of specialised vehicles for Federal Road Safety Commission from the Nnewi-based company.
“A lot of what we see in Nnewi is as a result of private enterprise. I am pleased to see the number of people employed by Chicason Group and other companies in Nnewi, and we will support Chicason industries and other companies like Innoson. I have heard and seen many of the goods produced, as well as many other goods produced in companies in Nnewi, like Tummy Tummy Noodles Company, which has thousands of workers in its employment.”