The role of industrial development in economic growth is the most vital aspect of modernisation and no State can be said to be developed without it. The challenges of leadership in the 21st century is not just only tied to the ability to churn out innovative ideas but using those ideas to create jobs and making life more meaningful for the people. The case is completely different in Edo State where the managers of our economy led by Adams Oshiomhole do not believe in industrialisation neither do they believe in Public Private Partnership to engender growth and stimulate the economy. A State cannot produce goods and services of high quality in order to attain decent living standard without the progress of industrial sector.
It is no wonder Governor Adams Oshiomhole on his 7th year tenure celebration openly told the people in a town hall meeting that he never promised to build industry in the State. The amazing thing was that he didn’t also tell the people what he promised and has delivered on. Another curious question is how does Oshiomhole intend to develop the State without industrialising it whether through government projects or PPP? A closer and critical look at Edo today is indicative of the fact that the State Government and his Party currently do no have any policy direction, which has left all sectors of the State in shambles. While some States in Nigeria are fast rising and becoming an industrial powerhouse in the nation, Edo State is still in the cocoon.
For us to realise the enormity of the State’s government callous disregard to industrial development and how this singular decision has underdeveloped the State, it is important to have adequate knowledge on what could have been done to make the State truly industrialised, and I shall attempt to bring to fore areas that could have had lasting impact on our economy. Industrial development is necessary for modernisation of Agriculture. In Edo, agriculture is traditional and backward. The cost of production is high and productivity is low. We need tractors, threshers, pumps sets and harvesters to modernise agriculture. To increase productivity we need chemical fertilisers, pesticides and weedicides etc. These are all industrial products. Without industrial developments, these goods cannot be produced. Agricultural products like jute, cotton, sugarcane etc. are raw materials to prepare finished products like flex, textiles and sugar etc. We need industrialisation. So industrial development is necessary for modernisation of Agriculture.
Another area where industrial development is key is science and technology. This area of development has become a revolution in our world today. Research is being conducted to develop new products. Ethanol in the form of biofuel is an example of industrial development. Industry conducts research on its waste and develops by-products like biodiesel from Jatropha seeds due to industrialisation.
What Oshiomhole doesn’t realise is that urbanisation succeeds industrialisation. Industrialisation in a particular region brings growth of transport and communication. Schools, technical institutions, banking and health facilities are established near indsurtrial base. Today we have many ancillary towns in Edo that have remained underdeveloped simply because people living in these areas do not have access to basic amenities. Siting of industries where necessary will not only halt the Rural-Urban drift, it would also raise the living standard of the people, which would in turn affect their economic lives.
Another vital area of industrialisation is its importance in international trade. Industrialisation plays an important role in the promotion of trade. The advanced nations gain in trade than countries who are industrially backward. The underdeveloped countries export primary products and imports industrial products. Agricultural products command lower prices and their demands are generally elastic. While industrial products command higher values and their demand is inelastic. This causes trade gap. To meet the deficit in balance of payments we have to produce import substitute products or go for export promotion through industrial development. The present government has neither gone for import substitutes products or products through industrial development. Yet our State has some of the best furniture makers and blessed with the world’s finest woods if well harnessed could be a major export product through industrial development. We also have the finest bronze casters known to man in Edo. Our art works adorn most of the finest museums and displayed in galleries all over the world. This is another industry that has been completely neglected by the government of Oshiomhole. One could go on and on to discuss about products that cannot be easily substituted with high value export through industrial development in Edo that are all lying fallow only because we have a callous govt whose sole interest is to enrich self.
It is a common saying that India is a rich country inhabited by the poor. It implies that India is rich in natural resources but due to lack of capital, innovation, will and technology, these resources haven’t been tapped. Same can be said of Edo State. Edo has the largest gas reserve at Oben and also has oil fields at Ologbo and other communities but the State govt haven’t made a conscious effort to enter into serious talk with the Federal government with a view of partnering with private investors to begin a massive gas and oil refinary in Edo. We are also blessed with the Gelegele Sea Port, another vista of opportunities wasting away that could transform the economic lives of the people of the State if well utilised. Resources must be properly utilised to transform them into finished industrial products.
Another area and which is by far the most important is how poverty and unemployment can be easily eradicated through rapid industrialisation. I am tempted to pause for a minute to ask Governor Oshiomhole how he intends to eradicate poverty in the State when he said ‘bye bye to poverty’ in one of his numerous campaign slogans’ if he had no plan to build a single industry! The non-existent industrial sector in Edo State is responsible for widespread poverty and mass unemployment, which the Comrade governor promised to eradicate. So with fast growth from the industrial sector, surplus labour from village can be put into use in industry and make our State truly grate.
Industry is viewed the world over as leading sector to economic development. We can have economies of scale by applying advanced technology and division of labour and scientific management. So production and employment will increase rapidly. This will bring economic growth and capital formation. Unfortunately the APC and Oshiomhole does not believe in this as they never built one nor renovated in their over seven years reign in the State. To prove my assertion, I have included 32 industries, just to mention a few that were functioning before the administration of Oshiomhole but have since been run aground and now comatose since he came in.
- Government Printing Press 2. Ethiope Publishing Company 3. Edo Transport Company LTD 4. Edo Courier International LTD 5. Edo State Sports Council 6. Edo Pharmaceutical Company 7. Urban Water Board 8. Rural Electricity Board 9. Okhoro Dam 10.Bendel Brewery 11.Ugo Forest Reserve 12.Ehor Forest Reserve 13.Urhonigbe Rubber Estate/Factory 14.Ehor Fruit Juice Company 15.Uromi Cassavita Plant 16.Fertilizer Blending Plant, Auchi 17.Solid Minerals Company, Ikpeshi 18.Leventis Farm, Agenebode 19.Michelin Company, Benin 20.Raw Materials & Ceramic Industry 21.Edo State Library 22.State School Of Nursing And Midwifery 23.Ikpoba Dam 24.Bendel Insurance Company LTD 25.Bendel Insurance FC 26.Bendel United FC 27.Ojiramen Dam 28.Council For Arts And Culture 29.18 LG Councils 30.Edo State Judiciary 31.Stella Obasanjo Children And Women Hospital 32.Edo State Law Review Commission.
From the aforementioned comatose industries, one cannot imagine the gross incompetence, failure, lack of empathy and governance in the State.
Governance is creating new traditions that honour the dignity and humanity of every individual. It is about empowering all of our people to fulfill every last bit of their God given potential and when we commit to that kind of governance, that is when we truly start making progress. There is a clarion call for an urgent need for positive change in Edo this year and I am very hopeful that our people are prepared to heed this call as they have never been afraid to bring about change. We have done it before and we shall do it again!