By Uwemedimoh Umanah
A miracle takes place when there is a sudden functional change that eludes human comprehension. In socio-economic and political parlance, someone or society is said to experience a miracle when it there is a sharp transformation or progress that was unplanned, astonishing and incomprehensible.
At the global stage, the Asian economic miracle remains one of the most fundamental transformation the human society has known of since the end of the cold war in the 1991. This miracle, though prevalent in most of the East Asian countries, the four dragons or tiger: HongKong, SouthKorea, Singapore and Taiwan, had the most far-reaching touch.
It should be noted that the concept of the four Asian ‘’Tigers’’ or four Asian ‘’dragons’’ is a term used to explain the economic revolution which took place in the highly free-market and developed economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
These nations were notable for maintaining exceptionally high growth rates( in excess of 7 percent a year) and rapid industrialization between the early 1960s (mid-1950 for Hong Kong) and 1990s. By the 21st century, all four had developed into advanced and high-income economies, specializing in areas of competitive advantage.
Hong Kong and Singapore for instance, have become world-leading international financial centers, whereas South Korea and Taiwan are world leaders in manufacturing information technology. Their economic success stories have served as a role model for many developing countries, especially the tiger club economies.
In Akwa Ibom State, there is a conscious effort by the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel at putting in place the requisite macro-economic policies and institutional framework that would set the stage for an economic miracle. For instance, the 5- point Agenda of Mr Udom Gabriel Emmanuel which encapsulates poverty alleviation, wealth creation, political & economic inclusion, infrastructure consolidation & expansion and job creation explain the pertinence of sound public policy to the overall process of development.
Little wonder, the Governor evolved a Foreign Direct Investment Committee in the state headed by a seasoned investment expert, Gabriel Ukpe to interface with foreign investors on behalf of the state.
GETTING THE BASICS RIGHT
From his inception as Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel has instituted sound polices capable of promoting equity and growth in the state. Fundamentally sound development policy is a major ingredient in achieving rapid growth.
Macroeconomic management in the state is unusually good and macroeconomic performance unusually stable, providing the essential framework for private investment. Some of the chunky private investments in the state include the 2 billion capacity syringe factory, a high capacity flour mill, a metering plant and the Coconut Refinery, amongst others.
Also, there are policies to increase the integrity and corporate governance. In this connection, the importance of the Bureau for Technical Matters & Due Process headed by a reputable technocrat and seasoned corporate governance expert, Mr Ufot Ebong cannot be overemphasized.
The free and compulsory Education policy in the state has been deepened. It is focused on primary and secondary schools. Technical training and skill acquisition programs are also encouraged to generate rapid increase in labor force . It should be noted that unhindered access to basic education accounted significally to the success of the meji restoration (the great economic leap) in japan.
Thus, the case of Akwa cannot be an exception, as skilled and highly developed manpower beckons in the nearest future.
Agricultural and agro- related policies in Akwa Ibom are aimed on productivity and negates tax on the rural economy. Today, Akwa Ibom is self-sufficient into tomato, cucumber, cocoa, cassava and other produce. These commodities were hitherto bought from the northern and western parts of the country and at exorbitant prices.
Recently, courtesy of FERep, the pet project of Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel, wife of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, 3 Cassava Processing Factories were resuscitated and commissioned in the three senatorial districts of the state. Of course, it is expected that this robust initiative would cause a boost in good production in state, while creating jobs and alleviating poverty.
ATTRACTIVENESS OF PRIVATE INVESTMENTS:
Udom Emmanuel’s policy on investment has sustained and engendered rapid growth with a fair income distribution pattern which has led to unprecedented economic growth. Recently the nation bureau of statistics (NDS) in its report for first quarter, noted that Akwa Ibom is the second largest foreign exchange attraction from importation of development capital in Nigeria with $18.36 in foreign direct investment (FDI) and other investment component of capital importation behind Lagos.
SOUND PUBLIC POLICY AND GROWTH:
The role of public policy in orchestrating growth, accumulating human and physical capital for investment in the state cannot be overemphasized.
In his bid to use public policy to actualize his development blueprints, Governor Udom Emmanuel has developed a framework that links rapid growth with (1) accumulation (2) effective allocation and (3) technological catch up.
Governor Emmanuel’s policy choices could be classified into two groups: (1) fundamental and selective interventions. The important policies within these include macroeconomic stability, high investment in human and intellectual capital and openness to foreign technology. Selective intervention include industrial promotion, local content and provision of security.
In the area of human capital development, it must be emphasized that indigenous professionals have been sent abroad for training programs in meter and syringe production. This would enhance the process of the technology transfer and ‘reserve engineering’. Reverse Engineering, as a process of ‘stealing technology’ through re-invention accounted for the quick technological development experienced by the newly industrialized countries (NICs) of south East Asia.
Closely related to the above is the local content policy of the state Government in the construction industry. Viable local concerns such as BENEST, VERINI, HENSEK and SEYANG Construction Companies, among others have been engaged and this hassled to the avalanche in construction labor, technological development, while alternating poverty to a reasonable level. Capital flight too has been discouraged, implying that the local economy would experience a tremendous boost.
Summarily, taking into cognizance the development blueprint laid down by Governor Udom Emmanuel anchored on the 5-point Agenda, it is apparent that an economic miracle beckons in Akwa Ibom State. Unarguably, sound public policy and strategy are the primary considerations for this great leap!
Uwemedimoh Umanah, an International Public Affairs Analyst, writes this piece from Uyo