The Senate Committee on Industry, Trade and Investment led by Distinguished Senator Sam Egwu undertook an oversight visit to the Industrial Development Centre, Owerri Imo State from 21st – 23rd November, 2018. The Committee was appalled by the construction at the Industrial Development Centre, Onitsha road site in which he was told that the Imo state Government is guilty of the encroachment. The Senate Committee on Industries has cautioned against the illegal encroachment on the Industrial Development Centers IDC in the state. The Chairman of the committee, Senator Sam Egwu, gave the warning in Owerri while inspecting some projects executed by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) .
The chairman said the committee would communicate to the Senate leadership on what was seen for further action. “We came to inspect SMEDAN projects in Imo state as part of our oversight functions and we noticed that the agents of the Imo state government has erected a structure on a federal government property. “We are going to inform the senate on the development and we must communicate our stand to the governor on this, because we will not allow anybody to encroach on SMEDAN property, this is a federal government property” he warned.
According to him “I don’t believe that Governor Okorocha was aware of this encroachment, but if he is, it is most unfortunate,” He charged officials of the Industrial Development Center (IDC) all over the country to always ensure they protect government properties from land grabbers by duly informing the headquarters in Abuja when such illegalities were happening..
The members also inspected some of the 2017 capital projects executed by the Agency in the IDC, among which were the Woodwork workshop, the Metal workshop, the Leather workshop and the Hostels where he expressed satisfaction with the work done. He said he was impressed with the level of works at the IDC, and would make recommendations for more funds to be appropriated in future budgets to SMEDAN.
Earlier the Director General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Dr. Dikko Umaru Radda, told newsmen that the Federal Government has put in motion the process of rehabilitating all the Industrial Development Centres (IDCs) across the country.
The IDCs, spread across 23 states in Nigeria, were established in the 1960s to early 1990s to fast track the industrial development of Nigeria. However, over the years the Industrial Development Centres have undergone dilapidation thereby hindering its optimum use.
Dr. Radda said that in view of the dilapidation and the technological advancement of the present times, the Agency commissioned a study on the viability of the Industrial Development Centres under Public Private Partnership with a view to converting them into cluster Parks with a grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The Director General of SMEDAN said that this time, the private sector will be involved in the management of the centres, adding that the report is being studied after which modalities for the private sector would be spelt out and advertised for interested investors.
He expressed regret at the dilapidated nature of the centres, stressing that most of the equipment were old and out of tune with the realities of the moment.
He also restated the fact that the agency was committed to developing and promoting MSME sub sector in Nigeria, adding that it would continue to encourage entrepreneurship in the country.
He however expressed concern over the encroachment of the Agency’s land inside the Industrial Development Centre in Owerri by agents of the state government but assured that the agency would do everything possible to recover the property.
The Coordinator of Industrial Development Centre, IDC Owerri, Mrs Chinyere Nwoke, told the Senate committee that agents of the state government, without any notice, entered the land and demolished the structure in it and started erecting a building.
Mrs. Nwoke said that members of the staff were threatened by officials of the state government not to resist the takeover of the land.