Gov Otti wants United States to support Abia, Rebuild Economy

Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, has called on the United States Government to assist his administration in its effort to rebuild the economy of the state.

Governor Otti said the American government can support the rebuilding of the economy of Abia State by promoting trade, investments and playing in other areas of interest.

The Governor spoke on Wednesday when he received the Political and Economic Section Chief of the US Consulate in Lagos, Mr. Mike Ervin, who was in Abia on a working visit with his team.

Governor Otti, who took time to bring the US diplomats up to speed with the performance of his government in the last eight months in office, also highlighted a number of challenges confronting the State, especially the business sector. He enumerated poor power supply, difficulty in accessing credits, unavailable logistic support in the area of digital economy, among others as some of the issues businesses in Abia have continued to deal with.

The Abia Chief Executive, however, informed his visitors that the issue of poor power supply in Abia, particularly Aba, the commercial nerve of the state, had been given serious attention and might be eventually resolved with the coming on stream of Geometric Power project, due for commissioning on Monday, February 26, 2024. The power plant, which had been in the works for the past 10 years, is expected to transmit over 180 megawatts of electricity to Aba, more than enough to service the power need of the city.

Governor Otti said that with over 50,000 individual shoe producers, a large army of entrepreneurs engaged in garment productions, leather works and various other small and medium enterprise and manufacturing concerns, Abia prides itself as a major trading and industrial hub in Nigeria.

He regretted that the State had suffered set backs in the past due to infrastructural decay, culminating in the shutdown or relocation of many businesses. He, however, noted that some of the businesses that had relocated are gradually returning as his administration had in the last eight months embarked on the upgrade of critical infrastructure and sanitising the environment to allow for the ease of doing business.

“In the past, we have suffered quite some set back because of infrastructural decay. You really cannot do much when infrastructure is not there, that was why, when we came, we started pursuing the rejuvenation and rehabilitation of infrastructure in particular, roads, drainages, not forgetting security, and in the last eight months, we have been able to fix many many roads in Aba, which is also the industrial and trading hub of Abia state.

“You can come in, as United States, to assist us solve the power problem; then there’s another problem which is access to finance and these days of expensive dollars people are running away from foreign currency funding. But I believe we can sit down and think out a process whereby, even if it is for government to provide a guarantee and help against fluctuations in the foreign currency price, so that our people can be sure of support, they can pay back,” Governor Otti said.

Speaking earlier, Ervin told Governor Otti that the US Consulate in Lagos covers the 17 southern states of Nigeria, adding that their mission was to seek ways to expand bilateral trade and investment and ensure prosperity between the United States and Nigeria.

“As you know, in the US Consulate in Lagos, we cover the 17 southern states, and our top job more than any other, is to seek ways to expand bilateral trade and investment and expand shared prosperity between our people.

“Our people share a long history of partnership and that was highlighted by the visit of our Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkin, in Nigeria, a couple of weeks ago, where he spoke very eloquently and strongly on the significance and importance of US-Nigeria bilateral relationship and our desire is to seek ways of expanding that relationship to build prosperity for our people,” he stated.

He thanked Governor Otti for opening the doors of Abia State to them to talk about ways they can find opportunities to build shared prosperity for their people, adding, “this is one message Secretary Blinkin has been taking around the world”.

The Commissioner for Trade, Commerce and Industry, Dr. Chimezie Ukegbu, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Digital Economy, Chibuzor Elisabeth Chijioke and the Technical Assistant to the Governor, Charles Egeonu were present at the meeting with the American diplomats.

Chief Press Secretary to the Governor
Abia State
Government House, Umuahia
February 22, 2024