The 21-storey smart building that goes by the name, Dakkada Towers, has remarkably changed the landscape and skyline of the Banking Layout in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital. You cannot fail to notice the eye-popping architectural masterpiece from wherever direction you are approaching it – even from a distance of 1000 meters – whether coming into town from the Victor Attah International Airport; through Udo Udoma Avenue from the Aka Road end, or from the Oron Road-Nwaniba Road Junction. It is a sight to behold.
Originally slated for siting at the old Akpan Ndem market, the location of Dakkada Towers had to be moved to a more befitting area that is designed to be the Uyo Central Business District –where financial institutions and other high profile economic structures like the Ibom Tropicana Shopping Mall have already established strong presence.
But Dakkada Towers is not all about beauty and a bold statement in architectural ingenuity. The significance of the structure and the role it is going to play in the life of a state that is being positioned to be an economic hub in Nigeria and the West African sub-region are quite enormous. They go beyond the alluring, serene and welcoming environment, and the gadgets that speak volumes about the deployment of technology from the main gate to the interiors of the building where everything is electronically operated to function with clockwork precision.
The building speaks to the dream of Governor Udom Emmanuel to transform Akwa Ibom from a civil service state to an economic giant that is privates-sector-driven. It is an embodiment of virtually everything the government set out to do from inception in 2015 – provision of infrastructure, economic transformation, job creation and betterment of the lives of the people of the state. Indeed, with Dakkada Towers, Akwa Ibom is ready for business.
Charles Ekpenyong, and Uyo-based development economist and management consultant, says existence of a structure like Dakkada Towers in Uyo has given fillip to the government’s efforts at creating an enabling environment for investments to thrive in the state. He said shortage of accommodation has been a major issue for investors, especially startups, which may not have the wherewithal to build their own structures.
“You will recall that when Akwa Ibom was created in 1987, the seat of government was in an old colonial building that had been abandoned for decades”, he said. “Government ministries operated in rented properties until Governor Victor Attah came up with idea of building the Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat. Only recently, Governor Udom Emmanuel’s clamour for ExxonMobil to relocate its administrative headquarters to Akwa Ibom where it has its operations always met with the argument that there is no accommodation in the state for a company of that size, apart from the fact that its head office in Lagos houses more than one company which cannot all relocate to the state”.
Ekpenyong said with the world-class facilities available in Dakkada Towers, multinational companies intent on setting up shop in the state will no longer have the issue of befitting accommodation to worry about.
Indeed, Dakkada Towers is designed to provide the kind of accommodation international oil companies (IOCs) would need to operate in Akwa Ibom. At the moment, some IOCs, including ExxonMobil, as well as others like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Oriental Energy have indicated interest in taking up spaces in the building. The probability is high that the presence of oil companies in Uyo would attract ancillary businesses to the state, who may also wish to operate from a building that has all the facilities any modern office anywhere in the world can boast of.
A banker in one of the leading financial institutions in the vicinity of Dakkada Towers says the presence of the structure in the area is a welcome development for banks, as its tenants would need their services. “Apart from the tenants that are going to occupy the structure, it is also going to attract other businesses to the area, and this is good for the banks”, he said.
Ekpenyong believes the presence of the Ibom Deep Sea Port and the proposed Liberty Oil and Gas Free Zone will attract businesses like clearing and forwarding, logistics, exports, etc, which would all want to operate from Uyo. “Dakkada Towers would certainly be an attractive option in terms of office accommodation”, he said. “I believe there will be need to build another structure like Dakkada Towers in Uyo, because I do not see that building offering enough accommodation for businesses that are going to come into the state in the next two or three years. Private investors may need to look in the direction of building this kind of structure, because government cannot spend scarce resources on the provision of accommodation for businesses”.
Businesses that are going to utilize the accommodation opportunities offered by Dakkada Towers are not limited to Akwa Ibom. The structure is probably the tallest in the entire South South and South East regions. The building has the potential to make Uyo the business centre for the two geo-political zones.
It bears mentioning the fact that Dakkada Towers is not designed only for big companies. There are provisions for small businesses that may not need whole floors.
Engineer Francis Uwah, the project coordinator for Dakkada Towers, said over 400 workers were involved in the construction of the building. The number did not include suppliers of the various materials and components that were used in building the structure. He said it is difficult at this stage to estimate the number of jobs that would be created when the structure is fully occupied, as the companies that take up tenancy will employ the number of workers according to their sizes and needs.
“But I can say that the number of direct and indirect jobs that will be created when the building is fully occupied will be in their hundreds, if not thousands”, Uwah said. “And we are not talking only about those who will work directly in the building. It is possible some of the companies will engage the services of suppliers of various items. That is a huge business opportunity for people in that line of business”.
He also said a building the size of Dakkada towers, coupled with its sophistication, will require the services of a company to provide cleaning services. “The company may not need to take up residency in the building, but it will certainly employ staff who will work here on a daily basis, just like what you have in banks where you see staff of cleaning companies in their uniforms”.
There is also the very crucial aspect of maintenance of a structure like Dakkada Towers, which will require expertise – an area of job creation on its own. Uwah says apart from creating jobs, Dakkada Towers has also brought about the transfer of technology to the people of Akwa Ibom, from the time of construction to regular maintenance, going forward.
The people of Akwa Ibom are going to be the main beneficiaries of the job opportunities that will be created by Dakkada Towers, in all categories. Ekpenyong says even if the technology to maintain the structure is going to come from outside the state, those to be engaged for the job are Akwa Ibomites.
Dakkada Towers is going to add to government’s efforts at creating jobs and improving the standard of living of the people of the state.
Udeme Asuquo writes from Uyo