for the promotion of good governance

THE POWER OF NETWORKING

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Chinenye Nwaogu is an administrator, development, advocacy, communication and management professional with over 20 years of experience in legislative, Social development work, public administration. and advocacy work with strong political exposure.

With a well-developed business and administrative acumen reflecting a career of strong leadership skills coupled with modern lT and other applications. He has worked as a Senior Legislative Aide in the Nigerian’s National Assembly, developing advanced knowledge of the workings of the legislative arm of government. As Executive Secretary of PlOEN a national NGO, he developed deep skills and knowledge of the social development sector working extensively with USAlD, DFID, NDI and lFll, served as secretary of the IR] Abuja Civil Society roundtable, he participated in several advocacy and communication skill development short courses and programmes of USAID in Nigeria. In 2002, he secured and managed a funding from USAlD to the tune of $38,000 for a good governance and democracy project in Plateau state of Nigeria, one ofthe biggest of such USAlD funded projects in Nigeria on improving the participation of youths in politics and decision making process. PIEON is a youth and vulnerable group focused NGO with deep capacity built through network with development partners and international donor agencies etc.

As the Executive Director of Renewed Hope Foundation a fully registered NGO in Nigeria, he has pioneered several peace building and youth empowerment initiatives, in addition to exposing and training youths and youth groups on MDGs and SDGs, youth groups on MDGs and SDGs, some of which includes; Youth in Democracy Action Plan in Umuahia 2010, Young Impact Programme Enugu 2011, Improving the participation of youths in politics Jos 2002, etc.

As the CEO of Adkel Consults, he has provided consultancy services to several organizations in Nigeria on human resources management, skill acquisition trainings, good governance, and financial discipline. He has an outstanding record of delivering simultaneous large-scale, mission crucial projects on time and under budget. Currently Chinenye Nwaogu Serves as the Special Adviser to the Governor of Abia State Okezie lkpeazu on Social Investment and Intergovernmental Affairs, helping the Governor develop policies that will achieve the vision of making Abia youths “Self-reliant and socially responsible”.

ln addition, he serves Investment Programme where he coordinates all pro-poor federal and international intervention programmes in the state aimed at addressing socio-economic challenges faced by the vulnerable groups-youths, women, children etc. Within the past 3 years on this saddle, over 200,000 youths women and children have benefited from the various SIP activities. The N Power programme has provided 16,000 jobs for Abia youths who earn 30,000 monthly, under the School feeding, Abia accesses over 347 million naira monthly, through his ingenious partnership with GEER Abia has a loan basket of 3 billion naira and over 18,000 MSMEs have receives soft loans ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 naira.

ln addition Chinenye serves as State Focal Person on Ease of Doing Business coordinating state government’s effort on Enabling Business environment for private sector growth. Through his efforts in coordinating this Abia State was among the 5 most improved states on the 2018 World Bank Ease of doing business ranking, he received and award from the Federal Government for himself and the state for this work. Chinenye has deep capacity to drive social intervention programmes his Shoe to School project in partnership with the Abians in diaspora has distributed over 5,000 pairs of made in Aba school sandals to pupils in public primary schools across the state. As a major team member of Governor Okezie lkpeazu’s Made in Aba Campaign programme, he has been at the forefront of many Made in Aba product promotion activities including the Abuja Fashion Show, New York Fashion Show and just recently, he served as co-coordinator of the Abia China Shoe training programme for Abia youths who went for automated shoe production. Chinenye coordinates the State government’s effort to develop the MSME sector representing the state at the federal level on many of the MSME activities which also attracted an award from the federal government for the state.

For the past 3 years Chinenye Nwaogu is among 5 African youth leaders invited to sit at the panel during the annual United Nations Youth Assembly in New York. He holds a Masters degree in Policy Analysis and Public Administration, a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Administration.

Currently he is running an MBA in Human Resources Management at the Nigerian Open University of Nigeria. He currently studies Law atthe Abia State University Law Faculty, Umuahia Campus.

Abia Today: Sir, you’ve had a lot of experiences in both the private and government sector. Give us an overview of how this experience has affected your world view?

When I arrived here I noticed that first, with all the challenges that every Governor that came In 2015 faced, you needed to think outside the box if you were ever going to make any impact on the lives of the citizens of the State. So essentially, I leveraged on established contacts and platforms that I heard prior to coming to this place, to begin to attract several programs that came with funding and support capacity building support and funding from the Federal Government and from the Development Sector, to be able to drive the activities and assignments that we were given by the Governor. Working with Governor Okezie lkpeazu, you cannot help but be encouraged to look beyond your scope of responsibility to be able to see how you can leverage platforms to be able to support the works we do here in the Government. The overreaching goal is to have huge positive impact on the livelihood of Abians. Incidentally, in my own case I was given responsibilities that had to do with social inclusion programs that affected the members of society who operate at the very low level of the social ladder. We were supposed to design an implement programs. Beyond the official programs we had, I was also privileged to be in the State’s first Economic Management team and the State Investment team that worked and travelled round the globe with the Governor to attract foreign investments to Abia State. We had several trips to China, United States of America, Brazil, UK; to be able to engage with potential foreign investors to look the way of Abia. I am bold to say that the last National Bureau reports recorded that Abia just came after Lagos and Abuja as the numbe rthird state that has attract foreign investment and in trying to drive those programs the Governor also nominated me to serve on the board of Enyimba Economic City representing the interests of the State. Vu to report directly to him on their activities of Enyimba economic city within the space again he ask myself and my colleague sir max to go facilitate his vision to drive the made in Aba projects which has several architect of that because you are aware of the china’s children program for Abia youth that are into the field of production so we took thirty first barge to china after two month in china we brought them back as I speak to you now we have fully installed all the automated machines for ship production, we train them in china bought all the equipment brought the equipment back built the factory and brought foreign partners, just last week we concluded on the installation of these equipment waiting for the governor to flag off that factory of production automated issues, you could say that l am malti- perfected person in terms of assignment in the administration

Ahia Today: What do you understand to be the vision behind the creation oi your ollice ?

The clear vision we have for me is just generally to improve the livelihood of Abianss. Fredrick Forsyth , in his book, indicated that Abians are the best traders you can find anywhere in the world. We are skilled people. We are entrepreneurs. Even before the Governor came into office, Aba had become a global brand. Aba had made name as the Japan of Africa, producing everything. In fact, the Vice President, Proffessor Osibanjo ,when he came here, said that it’s only a human being that cannot be made in Aba Everything else can be practically produced in Aba. Before this time however, those artisans that were so creative and ingenious had no mention within the government circles. They were just on their own, doing their own thing with very little or no institutional The Governor’s clear vision is generally to improve the livelihood of Abains. upport but when we came in, the governor avowed that this would be one area that we must show that government cares. After a thorough study, we found out that certain major issue such as infrastructural deficiency, the issue of branding and the artisans taking ownership of their craft, issues around market share, the issues of access to finance which was a huge challengethat stared the artisansto theirface, issues of automation and soforth. The world has moved on, Most of the shoes produced all over the world today are done in world class, high definition automated facilities, yetthe Aba person in this 21st century still uses hands to do shoes finishing . The Governor in his wisdom directed us to intervene with branding and he becamethe chiefBrand Ambassador. it also became a policy that when we have high level visitors, the souvenir we give them are all made in Aba. We packaged things produced by Aba artisans for all the high profiled personalities from Former President Obasanjo, to Vice president Osibanjo. That immediately triggered a lot of attention and excitement. In 201 6 the Federal Government launched the MSME Clinic in Aba. The Clinic was to bring all the operatives within the MSME program under one roof – the Federal and State MPA’s that had one responsibility or the other to the growth of SME, where brought under one roof and engaged to find solutions on the way forward for Abia State. While launching the program in Aba, the Vise President did say that the experience had exposed him to the need forthe Country to make a deliberate policy to support our local artisans. Few weeks after leaving Aba, the Federal Government signed Executive Order Number3 which mandated MDA’s to source every procurement item locally first, if they can’t find it locally then they may now source for it outside Nigeria. That immediately expanded the market shares of our local artisans. It was after that Executive Order that we got the order to produce fifty thousand boots from Aba. NYSC came calling. INEC came calling – for us to produce electoral materials in Aba. And because the Governor was adorning himself with made in Aba products the artisans and entrepreneurs now began to confidently inscribe their logo in their products. Happily, courtesy of Governor lkpeazu, the shoe makers in Aba proudly engrave the MADE IN ABA insignia in their shoes. The practice wherein they finish making superlative shoes and then inscribe the name of Italy or any other foreign country is gone for good. This administration has succeeded in curbing that stigma and restoring confidence. Then, we began to strategically give Aba entrepreneurs and creative artisans huge global exposure. We had our maiden Made in Aba National Fashion Show in Abuja in 2017. In the later part of that same year, we took them to New York for Made in Aba international Fashion Show. Of course, you know the history of New York as the fashion center of America. We equally took them to Brazil. and China. In some of these outings, we had business meetings with their Presidents with these Aba Entrepreneurs in attendance. So you can imagine what happens to the mentality of the ordinary Aba shoe maker and tailor who has been privileged to become the guest of Mr. President and have a handshake with the Vice president, it was a huge morale booster. The result is that with that heightened sense of belonging, they began to own their brands. Today, I can thankfully say that we have deliberately created a huge buzz about what is going on in Aba in particular and Abia in general. Interestingly, the Federal Government became impressed by our modest efforts. They came in and asked, ” Mr. governor what they can we do to support what the artisans are doing?” That was what led to what we have today as the Ariaria independent Power For the first time ever, Ariaria Market is now fully energized. It has become the only market that enjoys fully automated 24/7 uninterrupted power supply powered by gas turbine East of the Niger. This, as you will agree, is a very consistent and reliable power source. That project was commissioned by President Buhari himself when he visited Abia State. That is to show how important that project is. So, Aba Traders, artisan and Entrepreneurs in Ariara Market now have reliable power supply. Can you imagine and quantify the multiplier effect? This is one of the most unprecedented achievements any Governor can ever make. To the glory of God, Governor achieved that for our brethren and they are reaping the bountiful dividends.

Abia Today: Besides these intangibles, what is governor ikpeazu doing to revive the comatose infrastructure in aba which he met on assumption of office?

The Governor began massive infrastructural intervention in Aba by constructing roads that lead to target centers of production. Road construction for him is not a political issue. It’s a facilitator; an enabler. That’s why you see the focus on Faulks road, Aba Owerri road, Port Harcourt road and roads around the Ogbor Hill area. These amongst many other feeder roads and links in Aba are receiving serious attention simulteanously. This is despite the very challenging issue of funding. So far, the result is gradually showing and will become more obvious in this second term of the Governor — when most of the funding arrangements will materialize.

Abia Today: What are you doing in the area of capacity building?

On the issue of capacity building, we engaged with a very reputable foreign Non Governmental Organization, the Ford Foundation, they came to our aid to build the capacity of our entrepreneurs. They began with leather products, conducted several trainings forthem.This succeeded so immensely that the Governor now Iunched an automaton program in order to gradually phase out manual production. The intention is that by exposing the Aba shoe makers to automation, their very creative products will come out faster, neater and meet global standards. This has becomet he norm in the industry.

Abia Today: Won’t this automation lead to loss of jobs and creativity?

Not at all; Its rater the other way round. Creativity is more at the conceptualization level, from the creative mind. This ingenuity is already there, naturally, with the average Aba artisan. lt’s inborn in every Abian. All that the Governor seeks to do is to use automation to develop aviable value chain in the shoe making process. You will now see different specialized segments — design, coupling, finishing, packaging and marketing. Each artisan will now fit into his area of skill and interest. Abia Today: In practical terms, how tar have you gone in this regard? We started by carefully identifying one hundred talented shoe makers, both male and female. Then, we sent out the first badge of thirty to Chinato spend quite some time in a fully automated factory where they saw, experienced and where trained in an excellent facility. There, they were exposed to a modern machine based production process from the beginning to the end. The participants were very excited . And being naturally smart, within one month, they where operating the factory like their own till we brought them back. That’s transfer of technology in action courtesy of the visionary leadership of Governor lkpeazu. Again, you can’t quantify the multiplier effect. The Governor went further by establishing a fully automated factory, from the cutting machines to molders, to the very last stage, all the machines you require to produce shoes from beginning to the end have been imported and installed in Aba. So from this January, you can order 1 0,000to 100,000 pairs of shoes and be immediately told when it will be delivered to you- all fully automated. That’s the tremendous success story of the Made in Aba Campaign. if you begin to look at the impact of an average person who does business within that ecosystem, you will see that we have built their capacity and exposed them to financing opportunities, exposed them to the international market place and for the last lap of that efiort, the Governor just recently launched the Abia SME micro finance bank. Like I said, when he carefully understudied the Aba ecosystem, he discovered specific challenges and is finding solution to them methodically and steadily.

Abia Today: What is the thinking behind the establishment of a new Micro Finance Bank at this time? Are the existing banks not enough?

One of the problems which Dr Okezie lkpeazu discovered as a major impediment militating against the artisan one was access to finance. After a careful research, it became obvious that if the Aba entrepreneur is exposed to the rigors of commercial banks in Nigeria, today with the current fiscal policy, it will be difficult for them to measure up. So, as always, the Governor decided to think outside the box and create a platform that gives them access to credits without asphyxiating conditions. That’s how the idea of setting up a Micro Finance Bank came up. To the glory of God, that bank was commissioned a few weeks ago and has started full operations. On the day of the launch, the Governor declared a ten million naira micro credit scheme for artisans in Abia State. He equally directed that sixty percent ofthat facility should go to the women. That was an icing on the cake .The facility will be given on a first come first served basis. All that is needed is a good plan, then you go to the bank and because it’s a micro finance bank, the conditions are easy and convenient. Also, because they operate within this environment, understanding the peculiar needs of the artisans – their products are all designed and tailored to the needs of the people within the Aba milieu. Overall, you can now see the wonderful vision behind these elforts. It’s nothing else than the improvement of the livelihood of Abians. Using the SME’s and the Made in Aba Project, our dear leader and pragmatic Governor has impacted massively in the lives of these hardworking Abian who were hitherto forgotten and relegated to irrelevance.

Abia Today: In this 2020, what other innovations that will impact positively on the lives oi Abians should we expect?

There are several evolving life changing projects in the offing. For example, the Enyimba Economic City. Like I said earlier, Aba before now was reputed as the Japan of Africa, but overtime, due to hard economic conditions, a lot of our industries collapsed. We had issue of power, access to finance, skilled manpower and this led to a massive exodus of our human capital out of Nigeria. Aba The Enyimba Economic City is the most ambitious industrial project that is going on in Nigeria today almost lost its place as the industrial base of Africa. For Dr lkpeazu, there is an urgent need to return the glory days of Aba. That what brought about the big vision of what l will like to call a mini Dubai, an industrious City where you have industries, service sectors like Education, Health, Entertainment – you have a wholesale market and all kinds of activities going on at the same time within a well planned , secure and modern city. That’s why it is called Enyimba Economic City. By the time we do the ground breaking around the second quarter of this year, within two years, the entire landscape of Abia will automatically change for better. The Enyimba Economic City is the most ambitious industrial project that is going on in Nigeria today. The location is world class. The advantages the location confers on the project has excited global investors. We’re attracting the biggest textile m a r k e t i n g company in the world, several automobile industries, big players in the mining industry, players is the sporting circle, big players in the health sector, big players in the entertainment are all rushing in to be a part ot the Enyimba Economic City. Abia Today: Curiously, there has been this synergy existing between Abia State and the Federal Government despite being controlled by dillerenl political platlorms. What do you think informed this level of collaboration? The Governor has consistently placed on record his appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for his huge support towards the sustenance of the Enyimba Economic City Project and other development initiatives of his government requiring Federal Government support.. As the @ ABIATODAYJANUARYZUZU “s.:¢,.-j Governor lkpeazu has consistently placed on record his appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for his huge support towards the sustenance of the Enyimba Economic City Project and other development initiatives of his government requiring Federal Government support” State Focal Person for Social investment, I can assure you that the synergy you are referring to is very robust and symbiotic. It cuts across all sectors. If you observe closely, you will notice that all the Ministers appointed from Abia State by President Buhari and otherAbia born Federal appointees both in the first and second tenure enjoy a very cordial relationship with Governor lkpeazu. That in itself is a whole lot of achievement it you take into cognizance the kind of disharmony that used to exist between both levels in the past. It goes to show the kind of person that Governor lkpeazu is. He is ableto elevate development of the state and the well being of it’s citizenry way above petty political squabbles. Abians from all walks of life are commending him in this regard. And the synergy has broughta lot otdividendsto our people.

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