By Dr. Chinnan Mclean
The past few years has seen Kaduna state out-smart/out-wit Plateau in several key economic areas. These “wins” have left each of us (in Plateau) poorer, more destitute and beggarly quite frankly.
How has Kaduna done this? Well, firstly by enticing and wooing Plateau’s premier mechanised potato business out of its traditional home in Plateau to Manchok in Kaduna state. Vicampro, an indigenous agro-allied company which was set up for operation in Plateau –with the promise to create thousands of jobs was enticed by lavish offers and concessions from the Kaduna state government. All-in-all, Kaduna snatched from Plateau, up to 1500 potential jobs, millions of revenue (taxes) and the agricultural expertise etc.
Kaduna offered double the land the company had in Plateau, lavish tax breaks and other key benefits which were not on offer in Plateau. And even though there was a political angle relating to its ownership by the past administration, the bottom line is that Plateau lost while Kaduna has gained. This clever act of business poaching has robbed Plateau of billions of Naira of revenue, jobs, expertise etc. –thus impoverishing our dear state even further.
In the second and perhaps the most unfortunate case, Kaduna state has again stolen/poached another opportunity from Plateau. It cleverly and quickly expedited its inland port development so as to overtake the economic benefits of such venture from Plateau and other states. This means Kaduna becomes the first state to launch such a scheme and as such is in pole position to take advantage of virtually all benefits including taxes, supply chain, jobs, expertise etc. In fact, many Plateau based agro-allied businesses which were waiting patiently for the Plateau dry inland port in Heipang may consider exporting their farm produce through Kaduna –again robbing our dear state of precious revenue.
Being candid, Kaduna does not have a fraction of the agricultural endowments that Plateau possess. In fact, siting the port there may rely heavily on agricultural produce from Plateau and other states. But the government has cleverly realised that what Kaduna lacks in agricultural and natural endowment, it can gain in positioning itself aptly –and that’s exactly what it has done.
What is really a travesty is that, Plateau was the first to be earmarked for such a venture, but has again let itself down by being lackadaisical and whimsical. In fact, the big risk now with the Heipang project, is that some higher interests may begin to sabotage it to ensure that it never comes to fruition so that Plateau is permanently consigned to exporting through Kaduna.
It is very encouraging that Hon Minister Amaechi visited the site 4 months back and promised to expedite its development. Let’s hope the development is finalised soon – because it will unlock a lot of potentials in the Bokkos-Mangu-Barkin Ladi belt of the Plateau.
I shall leave you with the following questions to ponder:
- What is the state of completeness of the Plateau inland port –given the contractor promised to complete it in June 2017 http://businessandmaritimewestafrica.com/maritime-development/jos-dry-port-will-be-ready-june
- How did Kaduna overtake Plateau in this venture even though, the Plateau project was started way ahead of that of Kaduna?
- Why were structures of the concessionaire Duncan Group of companies demolished in 2012, causing a setback to the project?
- Did the developers in Plateau not know that the state was already in advanced stages of developing this port and therefore potentially trying to overtake the Plateau advantage?
- What can be done now to expedite the development of this port to turn it around in the first half of 2018?
- What should be Plateau next line of action in the light of this advancement by Kaduna state?
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