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Where is the Organized Private Sector in Taraba State?

By Zanau Hassan.

I think the time has come for Taraba state organised its private sector to stand up and be counted.
The absence of such a body has led us on a wild goose chase for “foreign investors” that have till date not been found.

What I have discovered among states in Nigeria is that citizens or indigenes of such states end up being their investors.

The private sector in Taraba who are not organised are busy building filling stations and low-class hotels here and there; this is due to a lack of direction from the state Ministry of Trade & Investment (Commerce) to produce an Investment Master Plan for Taraba state. This has made it very difficult for willing investors to know where and what to invest in.

The absence of such plan has led to the indiscriminate construction of small scale factories and animal farms within residential areas leading to noise and air pollution.

Taraba state has been described as a state with naturally endowed potentials, but both present and past administrations have not been able to produce a guide towards harnessing and exploring those potentials for the benefit of her citizens.

The absence of industrial layout, parks, free processing zones, business hubs etc has left Tarabans to wander amidst plenty not knowing what to do.

In a time like this when National revenue is dwindling, one expects a vibrant and effective private sector driven master plan that will open up the investment potentials of the state for willing investors, but nothing of such is happening.

Its 22 months already into the Arc Darius D. Ishaku’s administration and those of us who do not belong to the civil service are asking questions and wondering whether or not we were mistaken for supporting someone we assumed had a private sector experience to come and lead us. The concentration has been on civil servants who are between 16,000 to 20,000 in number, far less than 10% of the state total population.

The government seem to have no plan for local investors as well as indigenes of Tarabans in diaspora to bring their resources home to invest.

At a time like this, as the administration clocks 2 years, it is important that as citizens of Taraba state, we draw the attention of the administration to these facts, that not all citizens of Taraba state are civil servants and that the governor has a duty to nurture and grow a vibrant and effective private sector in the state.

Today, there is a growing number of young entrepreneurs across the country blazing the trail in diverse emerging businesses like ICT, entertainment, processing, retail etc. Youths in Taraba state are still wondering whether they belong or not.

Taraba state has always been a state where raw materials are being sourced from both local and international markets, e.g. the popular “Madrid” wood, grains of all sorts to fire up factories in other parts of the country and as far as China.

Common sense tells you that when you produce raw materials and another state process it into finished products, you loose on jobs and expected revenues. What stops the state government from partnering with local investors and foreign technical partners to set up plywood processing factories in Taraba state instead of taking our wood to China and import back plywood into the country.

Taraba is a leading producer of soybeans, groundnuts and sesame seeds, but we can not boast of a single functional oil mill. The same can be said of maize rice and sorghum.

As the 3rd largest state in the country with the longest stretch of River Benue, we have not taken advantage of our potentials for irrigation. We wonder if states like Kebbi has our capacity in rice production. The National Bureau of Statistics in her 2010 Agric survey data identified Taraba state with the largest cultivated land area for rice but not yield. And this is because of our concentration in rainfed agriculture.

This government has not given Tarabans the lead in utilising our vast youthful population into irrigated agriculture. The Governor has not also shown farmers that he is the farmers Governor.

These among other potentials in tourism, livestock, forestry, solid minerals etc have not been identified by the Ministry of Commerce as possible investment opportunities for the state. It is pertinent that this government sits up and take the remaining half of her tenure to put the state on the part of progress.

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