Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia has assured Aba shoe manufacturers, known as Omenka Shoemakers, that government will not allow the entrance of the Chinese in the business to disrupt their interests.
The assurance was given in a statement in Aba on Wednesday by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Enyinnaya Appolos.
According to Appolos, the meeting held at the Governor’s lodge in Aba was convened to brief Aba shoemakers on the gains of having Chinese investors in the Aba shoe industry.
The governor also challenged the representatives of the 14 clusters to leverage on the coming of the Chinese to improve on their skills and learn new ways of doing business.
Ikpeazu further warned that the government would do everything to counter attempts to frustrate its efforts to attract foreign investment to the state.
The governor said he invited them to for abrief on his recent trip to China and commended them for retaining their place in the Nigerian leather and garment industry.
“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 1.5 billion dollars in our economy.
“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 any way 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”, Ikpeazu warned.
The governor told them that 100 shoemakers from Aba would be going to China any moment for further training in modern shoemaking that would 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 Chinese investors.
He said that they had thought the entrance of the Chinese would take away their businesses from them.
He thanked the governor for promoting their products “vigorously in an unprecedented way never seen in any regime” since they started producing shoes.
Williams 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 would make the list of 100 persons to China for further training