Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, today convened a heart to heart meeting with the leadership of various shoemakers in Aba, under the aegis of Omenka Shoemakers covering over 14 shoe clusters in Aba, including Ariaria.
According to a press release by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Enyinnaya Appolos, the thrust of the meeting held at the Governor's lodge Aba, was to brief Aba shoemakers on the gains of having Chinese investors in the Aba shoe industry.
The Governor assured the shoemakers that their business interests will be protected by the government, and challenged them to take advantage of the coming of the Chinese to improve on their skills and learn new ways of doing business.
While stressing that the state government will do everything to protect the business interest of Aba people, he also warned that the government will do everything to counter attempts to frustrate its efforts to attract foregin investment in the state.
"I invited you here to brief you on the outcome of my recent trip to China, where I took our made-in-Aba campaign to. I must commend you people for holding forth strongly in the leather and garment industry in Nigeria. I promised when I was campaigning to be governor in 2015 that I will promote made-in-Aba goods. I have been doing that and I am ready to take it a notch higher to make in Aba.
"When I went to china, I met with a major investor in the shoe industry who indicated interest in investing $1.5b in our economy, and the investor- Mr. Zhang Huarong of Huajian Shoe Factory Guangdong, China, visited Abia State last Sunday and I took him to some industrial locations within Aba, where we think he can site his industry.
"As those in the business, I must brief you and also assure you that his coming will not in anyway affect your business negatively. As your brother and your governor, it is my duty to protect your interest and that I must do. But let me also challenge you to take advantage of his coming to improve and upgrade your processes and systems in the industry.
"This government will do everything to protect your business interest and also do everything to thwart any plan to frustrate foreign investment into the state."
The Governor told them that 100 shoemakers from Aba will be going to China any moment for further training in modern ways of shoemaking that will impact positively on their output and quality.
Responding, Chairman of the Omenka Shoemakers Aba, Mr. Okechukwu Williams, thanked the Governor for finding time to brief them, and also for dousing their fears over the coming of the Chinese investors, which they had thought will take away their businesses.
He, on behalf of members, thanked the governor for promoting their products vigorously in an unprecedented way since they started producing shoes , and also promised to take advantage of the coming of the Chinese investors to improve on their business processes and systems with a view to competing favorably.
They pleaded with the Governor to ensure that only members of the Omenka shoemakers in Aba will make the list of 100 persons that will go to China for further training.