A strategic roadmap for the industrial development of Igala/Bassa Land

roadmap for an industrial zone

By SAMSON AMEH OPALUWAH

  • The need for a Development Agenda
  • The political Structure for Nigeria – Fed, States & LGAs / Dev Areas
  • Proposed areas of focus of the Agenda – Political, Economic, Educational, Infrastructural, Agricultural, Industrial, Social, Health etc.

INDUSTRIAL ROADMAP

Types of Industries:

  • Heavy
  • Medium size
  • Small scale
  1. IGALA/BASSA located East of the Niger & Benue, bounded Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Nasarawa & Benue States. It is approximately 160x140km(length x width) lying between Latitude 6o30I & 8oN and Longitude 6o30I & 7o40I
  2. Population is over 2 Million made up of mainly agrarian settlers who live in clusters of towns and villages.
  3. Landscape & topography – This land enjoys largely plane arable and fertile land with some unexplored deposit of several types of minerals.
  4. Countries with comparative or less endowment as Igala land
Igala-land Comoros Lesotho Gambia Seychelles
2,000,000 817,324 2,195,628 2,009,648 94,921

ECONOMIC ENABLERS

  • Arable agricultural land
  • Good land tenure system
  • Proximity to Power (Gegu power plants & Ajaokuta steel complex)
  • Proximity to the two great rivers, Niger & Benue
  • Proximity to the FCT
  • A pleasant and open-minded population
  • A hard working and teachable population 

PRODUCTS OF IGALA/BASSA LAND:

  • Rice Bassa, Ibaji, Ife
  • Yams – All over the land
  • Cassava – All over the land
  • Maize -All over the land
  • Palm – All over the land
  • Forestry – All over the land
  • Tomatoes – Ankpa
  • Fruits – All over the land
  • Fishing – Bassa, Idah, Ibaji
  • Poultry – All over the land
  • Livestock – All over the land

SOME MINERAL RESOURCES IN THE LAND:

  • Coal – Ankpa and Dekina
  • Clay – Idah, Bassa and Ankpa
  • Iron Ore – Bassa and Dekina
  • Petroleum/Natural Gas – Idah, Ankpa, Olamaboro, Omala and Bassa
  • Salt – Bassa
  • Lime – Ofu
  • Marble – Idah, Ofu, Bassa
  • Tin – Bassa, Dekina, Ofu
  • Limestone – Ofu
  • Gypsum – Ofu, Bassa, Ankpa
  • Uranium – Idah

CURRENT CHALLENGES IN THE LAND

  • Population Explosion
  • Educational Regression
  • Agricultural decline
  • Unemployment & Unemployability
  • Inadequate Infrastructure
  • Inadequate quality healthcare
  • Youth Restiveness & skewed orientation
  • Social Dysfunction & Moral decadence
  • Political Standstill
  • Economic downturn
  • Security Challenges
  • General Despondency

HOW DO WE ADDRESS THESE ISSUES THROUGH INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT?

The Industrial development in Igala land must focus on the production goods, processing of agricultural & mineral deposits and provision of services for the huge Nigerian market as well as the international community. These can be achieved through the following:

SMALL-SCALE INDUSTRIES

  1. Develop Economic clusters (similar Israeli Kibbutz system) using our village settlements as focal points. These clusters will also serve as centres of development. Studies have shown that only by creating small economic units, building them up and multiplying their capacities constantly can you lift the economic status a large population in a short time.
  2. Promote export oriented small-scale industries in each local government or development area to beneficiate our raw products for the international market. This will ensure the inflow of foreign exchange into our communities to uplift their economic status.
  3. Promote small-scale industries for the provision of consumables in each local government or development area targeting the huge Nigerian market. Nigeria’s huge population is a market waiting to be tapped by local production companies.

 Large production companies in Nigeria have failed to succeed or packed up in this country because of the poor infrastructure, high capital cost, huge overheads, and inexplicable tax burdens. However, small scale outfits will require less funding, demand lower levels of energy for operation and lower overheads.

(These small-scale industries will be owned by the cluster communities with government providing only support for access to funds and technical advice)

  1. Restore and re-engineer the agricultural products marketing boards to ensure stability of the market prices of agricultural products and to encourage large scale production. Farming is still profitable. However more traction is obtained when the raw products are beneficiated and processed before sale to the user/consumer.

THE OIL & GAS INDUSTRY

  1. Our people should get involved in the development and commercial exploitation of hydrocarbons in Ibaji area. A deliberate drive for investors in this area by providing enabling environment for business and free access to land will facilitate this.
  2. Igala people should position themselves to partake of the oil industry in Nigeria not only as workers in the oil industry, but as stakeholders and owners of oil licences for exploration and exploitation. This will make us stakeholders capable of directing industrial investments to Igala land.

THE FOCUS

  1. The focus of our industrial development in the immediate should be on re-engineering agricultural production and establishing small-scale agribusiness outfits as vehicle for the industrial development of Kogi East.
  1. However, for our people to benefit maximally, we should embark on relevant and functional education to provide technical and managerial manpower for these companies.  

SOURCES OF RAISING CAPITAL AND SEED FUNDS

  • Government – Federal, State and LGAs
  • Organised Private Sector
  • Unorganised Private Sector
  • Co-operatives, Clubs, Associations etc.
  • International/Local Development Agencies
  • Non-Governmental Organisations
  • Individual investors
  • International Investors

WHAT THEN SHALL WE DO GOING FORWARD?

  • Aggregate and update all past studies and designs already done from the first republic up until now on this subject.
  • Harmonise, modernise and design a detailed Roadmap for the Industrialisation of the land for this next fifty years.
  • Set up a contact and mobilisation team
  • Sensitize Igala Communities, opinion leaders, stakeholders & current investors in the land.
  • As much as possible obtain the buy-in of the following groups of citizens
    • Politicians
    • Public servants
    • Organised Private Sector
    • Traditional rulers
    • Community and Social Development groups, NGOs.
    • Individuals
    • All Igala sons and daughters
    • Development Partners etc.

Examples of turn arounds within the last fifty years

  • Brazil
  • South Korea
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Rwanda

CONCLUSION

Igala land and her people must chart a course for themselves within the context of Nigeria. No one will develop our land unless we rise to begin to do the right things together and to show investors that they are safe in dealing with us and our people. Igala people are peace loving people, we can make our homeland the envy of others in Nigeria and beyond.

We need to imbibe the culture of sacrifice of self for the benefit of all of us.

SAMSON AMEH OPALUWAH, FNSE, FNIOB, FNIM

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