FOR a long time many have created the impression that Kogi State is majorly a civil servant state as if she has no single industry. With this wrong impression, one would easily come to the conclusion that the state is not business friendly due to the characteristics of such a state where workers’ economy hardly rise above average since their salaries has pay ceiling compared to those of their counterparts in private sectors. There is also always a revolving door of political appointees at the highest levels who have self priorities that are not in workers’ interests.
However, there is cheering news for Kogians in particular and Nigerians as a whole because Kogi State can boast of one or two giant industries that are capable of changing her socio-economic world view.
Though moribund and awaiting resuscitation is the Ajaokuta Steel Company, the famous Aliko Dangote Cement Company in Obajana and the West African Ceramic Company in Ajaokuta are the noticeable industries and serving as windows of opportunities for Kogians and Nigerians.
Located in Ajaokuta Local Government Area and almost close to Itobe in Igala land is the gigantic ceramic company established first in Suleja, Niger State in 1996 as a small business venture before moving to Kogi in 2009 through the collaborative effort of Alhaji Lawal Idris who is the Chairman of the company and an expatriate, Mr Bakar Rao who is the General Manager. This company is one among others that have been improving the economic status of the state from a civil servant to an industrial state.
Only recently, Kogi State chapter of the Nigeria Union Journalists (NUJ), paid a facility tour of West Africa Ceramic as part of her activities to mark this year’s press week. The first port of call was the board room of the company where several awards conferred on the company dotted the walls and cupboard in the room.
The company has no doubt positively affected the lives of people of Ajaokuta where the company is sited as no fewer than 1,500 people are on its pay roll. About 85 percent of the employees who are youths are from Ajaokuta community while only 15 percent are none indigenes of the community. Thus, youths who would have been idle and subsequently fomenting trouble in the community are gainfully engaged by the company.
Confirming this to journalists on the facility tour of the company, the General Manager, Mr Bakar Rao said insecurities have been curtailed to its barest minimum as a larger number of the youths who could have been source of insecurity are fully engaged.
There is also a harmonious relationship between the company and the host community which made the company to build a mosque and a church for the Muslim and Christian faithful respectively as part of the company social responsibility. Not only were these places of worships provided for the community, the company facilitated the provision of electricity for the people, thus making life comfortable for the grass rooters.
The benefits from the company’s social responsibility has not ended as Mr Rao disclosed that a plan was in the offing to create a technical school for training youths in the community. Rao explained that when the Technical School is established, it will admit more youths who are employable to the organisation, stressing that if the youths are preoccupied there will be no way to engage themselves in committing criminal activities.
While disclosing that the federal road that passes through the community has become one of the busiest in Nigeria making business activities thrive and sending criminals away, Mr Rao extolled the good vision of President Muhammadu Buhari for Nigeria, saying his policy has helped exportation rather than importation which has helped the country saved money.
Explaining that raw materials for making tiles and marble are sourced locally, Mr Rao said their products are the best in the country. He cited an example saying the use of marble to decorate a kitchen have been found to be the best as it is easy to clean.
What has been the selling point of the company’s product if one may ask? Mr Rao said the Federal Government policy has assisted the sale of their product tremendously, just as the quality of the product drives customers to them more.
He further disclosed that the company has been motivating others to come up which is the only surviving one out of many that started at the same time, just as it is saving income for government.
Earlier in an address on why Chairman of NUJ Kogi State Council, Comrade Adeiza Momohjomoh led his members on a facility tour of the company, he said it was to access the good works being done and assist in propagating it to the world. He appreciated the management of the company for partnering with NUJ and hosting the team.
Thereafter, the Administrative Manager of the company led the team of journalists round the facilities and products of the company.
It is therefore hope that many philanthropists will take up the initiative in establishing private establishments in a bid to make the state an industrial one.