FEATURE ARTICLE

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
keshiafrica@gmail.com

X-RAYING GOV. IKPEAZU'S REVOLUTION IN RICE PRODUCTION, AUTOMATED SHOEMAKING, AND WASTE MANAGEMENT

f all projections of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu's administration in Abia state do not suffer any hitch, the state in few years ahead will achieve sufficiency in rice consumption from its local cultivation and may extend the stride to exporting rice.

It will be recalled that the coordinator of the Abia State Accelerated Rice Development Program, Pastor Okechukwu Dike during the flag-off the 2019/2020 rice farming season in the state held at Bende Agro Services Rice Field at Okpotom Bende, in Bende Local Government Area assured that Abia will depend on its local rice production to meet its consumption needs in the next two years.

Two rice mills were recently added to the rice mills in the state, raising the number of rice mills in the state to four. It is also expected that more rice mills will be commissioned in not-too- distant future to make the governor's dream of revolutionising the rice production situation in the state a reality.

The governor briefing newsmen Government House, Umuahia, after commisoning two rice meals in Uzuakoli and Acha communities all in Abia North section of the state during a media tour recently,said that he was moved by the sight of some women of the area traveling long distances as far as Ebonyi State to mill their rice in his recent visit to the area.

Before now the governor has provided farm implements and improved rice seedlings to Abia farmers to support the rice revolution.

Also, Gov Ikpeazu's administration has recorded the following achievements in the agricultural sector:launching of large scale mushroom production and training program that is already yielding great results and attracting requests for support from other states .This venture has enabled many young Abians to be trained in mushroom production and are currently engaged in large-scale commercial mushroom production.

The state has also engaged in a massive Palm planting campaign which has so far yielded over 4 Million Tenera specie palm seedlings across the state. The target is to plant 7.5m seedlings by the end of 2020.

Another area the state is making serious inroad is its strides to automate the shoemaking process.Since the inception of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu's administration in Abia State, it has been his firm desire to root the Aba-made shoe in global footing. This desire has promoted some actions to back it up such as sending some shoe makers overseas to undergo trainings in automated shoe making.

Also, earlier this year, a ground breaking ceremony for the establishment of its Footwear Factory and Leather City Industrial Park was performed in Obuaku, Ukwa West local government area of the state.

The project, powered by NIBRA Designs Limits and a Brazilian Shoe making firm, is expeceted to produce 15,000 pairs of shoes daily at take-off and 100,000 pairs when the project fully comes on board.

According to Chairman of Nibra Designs Ltd, Dr Aura Abiola, the decision to set up the factory in partnership with a Brazilian shoe making company was informed by the need to tap into the existing footwear ecosystem in Aba and support the governor's industrialization agenda.

Another leg of the project targets to train Aba shoe makers and graduate them from artisans to full entrepreneurs.

The automation of the manufacturing process of made in Aba shoes is at the threshold of actualisation as batches of equipment that will drive the process have arrived.

Gov Ikpeazu has unveiled these equipment at the governor's lodge in Aba with strong assurances that he will not relent in his efforts to drive the made in Aba campaign which he is the brand ambassador.

The governor reiterated his stand not to compromise the quality the shoe makers will be churning out in the few months ahead.

He also renewed his appeals to the public, especially the federal government to step up their patronage of made in Aba footwears.

Recently, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu renewed efforts to improve waste management in Abia .Going by these efforts and barring any unforeseen circumstances, the refuse situation of Abia State will soon assume a new narrative.

Part of the governor's efforts is the declaration of state of emergency in a bid to respond to the increasing challenges of waste management in some parts of the state.

In addition to this is the proposed creation of distinct Waste Management Authorities for some local government areas which Aba North, Aba South, Osisioma Ngwa, Obingwa, Ugwunagbo, Umuahia South and Umuahia North. These actions are backed up by the appointment of local government waste managers to supervise the waste management efforts of the affected local government areas.

The new order will ensure street by street collection of waste in Aba and environs which will commence by 5pm on daily basis; ensuring that only approved point for waste is the buckets placed by the state environmental agency(ASEPA).On this note, those who are hell bent in flouting directives should have a rethink as indiscriminate disposal of waste shall be punished by arrest and prosecution.

Also, to ensure that the emergency period is not a wold wish, the governor shall within this period of one month personally coordinate waste management activities within Aba metropolis to restore sanity in the waste management system.

As the governor has usually demonstrated that he is a leader that walks his talk, compactors and buckets have been handed over to waste managers in the state.One directive Abia residents should not take for granted is the call to embrace this new waste disposal order by ensuring that they bag their refuse properly and dispose accordingly.

Equally, Gov. Ikpeazu's warning that those in the habit of littering their frontage with refuse will face the wrath should also not be wished away.

The news from the governor that his administration is working towards phasing out the use of secondary dump stands to enable big trucks collect refuse directly from households straight to the tertiary dumps as the roads are repaired should equally elicit strong hopes that the refuse management situation in the state is remarkably improving.

Another cheering news is the governor's proposal to unbundle ASEPA .Unbundling of a public concern to private concerns is the process of selling off certain lines of the business in order to focus on fewer. The greatest benefit of this is that it ensures efficiency and the same time promotes customer satisfaction.

This move is apt now that Gov. Ikpeazu's administration is thinking of turning waste from liability to asset. Unbundling refers to the process of a business selling off certain lines of the business in order to focus on fewer, more focused lines of operation.

Now that metals and other waste components are fast disappearing from our waste bins leaving predominantly biodegradable materials, there is need to generate wealth by recycling biodegradable materials.

Biodegradable substances are capable of being broken down (decomposed) rapidly by the action of microorganisms. They include food scraps, cotton, wool, wood, human and animal waste, manufactured products based on natural materials (such as paper, and vegetable-oil based soaps). Biodegradable or organic wastes like peels, waste food, leaves, dead flowers, and egg shells can be recycled, they are converted into dung by burying them in compost pits is called composting.

It it is widely noted that "it takes two to tango", Abia residents have critical contributions to offer here to complement the laudable efforts of the governor in ensuring that the waste management narrative of the state is changed.

This can manifest through the adjustment of refuse disposal mindset of the residents. It is unworthy to note here that some residents are in the habit of disposing refuse into drainage thereby blocking the free flow of water in the drainage.

This unbecoming attitude has cost the state a lot because hence the drainage are blocked, the storm water will return to the constructed or reconstructed roads and shorten their life spans. This mounts pressure on the lean resources of the state as it returns to these roads earlier than the time expected.

Also, some artisans undergoing automobile repairs in the state have cultivated the habit of fixing broken down vehicles on the newly- constructed roads. This attitude is highly negative because some materials used in these repairs are corrosive and compromise the integrity of the roads.

The state environmental protection agency and other relevant authorities should up their ante by making sure that these negative practices are checked. Relevant laws should be promulgated and religiously implemented.

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