The Rivers State House of Assembly (RSHA) has endorsed a plan by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN- Rivers/Bayelsa Chapter) to return Port Harcourt as a leading hub in business and manufacturing.
This decision emerged at the end of a courtesy visit by MAN led by its present chairman, Vincent Okuku to the Speaker, Martins Amaewhule.
Leading other manufacturers, Okuku told the Speaker that the partnership should target efforts to create 24-hour power supply in the state so manufacturers all over the country can adopt Rivers or Port Harcourt as place to be.
He said the state deserved to acquire such power supply status in the immediate future so as to become a leading hub in Nigeria especially in the advent of the common market in Africa.
Okuku said the power status will attract investors as a production hub. “We have gas turbines, natural gas, etc. These form comparative advantage. We have sea ports, rail line, airport. These should be harnessed.”
He said the need to harness the numerous advantages was reason for the visit by MAN leadership in the two states.
“This is to see how we and the RSHA can partner to support our drive to re-ignite Rivers State as a hub.
“Nigeria has signed African Free Continental Trade Area (AfCFTA) and we are in a serious competition. Rivers State has been a hub and we want it back. The House should support us,” he said.
He also disclosed that the MAN Made-In-Nigeria fair was coming in October 2023, pleading with the parliament to partner with the manufacturers.
He added: “We want friendly legislation. Our mission is to make the state investor-friendly. That is why we are here.”
He warned that the industrial relevance of Rivers State was receding, saying there was competition from other states in the region which he said were keen to become the new industrial hubs. But, Rivers State was the oldest industrial hub, and Indomie that people eat is made in Rivers State.
“If we can bring more investors, things will be better. If every LGA can promote one factory, it will be a good start. Indorama Petrochemicals plant and Fertilizer operations alone can give birth to seven factories going by what they produce. We want your support to achieve this.”
Mentioning some advantages, Okuku said Port Harcourt and Onne ports were no longer on red flag and that things were getting better.
Responding, the Speaker said both bodies would work out areas of collaboration to boost productivity in the state.
Amaewhule said the House has a tradition of partnering with many organisations, but that the focus is to support the private sector to thrive for the benefit of the state’s economy. “If MAN is doing well, it will reflect in taxes, jobs, and gross domestic product of the state. “We do not just make laws but we support groups with laws. The bulk of the task is with the Executive but we work to make the people see what lawmaking can do.”
He assured that the House would be at the MAN AGM and trade fair. He said power supply was on the top agenda of the parliament with a Bill already set for tabling after some consultations.
He said both parties would figure out areas of collaboration that would boost manufacturing in Rivers State and return to the full body.