Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu on Wednesday, July 21, proudly displayed the first pair of sandals he made as a student of a footwear Academy to journalists in his office.
Recall that the governor had recently enrolled in a footwear Academy in the commercial city of Aba; and had revealed that he was eager to learn a new skill.
Away from his busy schedule; in a bid to push the “Made in Aba” campaign and to encourage young people in Abia to take advantage of the vast entrepreneurial opportunities available in the state, the governor signed up with “The Footwear Academy”.
The academy is owned by Mr Bentley Chukwuemeka and his wife, non-Abians who have taken advantage of the lucrative business environment provided by the current administration since 2015.
The governor, while enrolling, revealed that he has only worn locally made clothes and footwear since he first assumed office, stressing the need for Nigerians to leverage on the strength of its population, as a ready market for locally made products.
After two months, the governor can proudly call himself a shoemaker, proudly displaying his handwork to the full glare of the public.
Amidst naysayers, the governor has continued to support local manufacturers by sending Abians abroad for training and setting up the world-class Enyimba Shoe Factory; an automated shoe company that is professionally run and handles major shoe supply contracts to key agencies of the Federal Government.
A leader by example; Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu has changed the perception that made in Aba products are inferior, by wearing only products made in Aba and has now gone ahead to learn to make them himself. His enrollment could be the rationale why “The Footwear Academy” was given an award of excellence in leather works at the 4th National MSME AWARDS in Abuja.
The governor had indicated, that the award was yet another validation of the efforts of his administration to provide support to willing and able entrepreneurs to chart a course for themselves, and to make Abia a destination of choice for business breakthroughs.
Abia State has consistently won this award which is organized by the office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; as the governor proudly invites budding entrepreneurs with bright ideas, who want their business to grow, to come to Abia.
Aba has been described as Nigeria’s manufacturing capital, built on the backbone of the reputable Igbo apprenticeship system.
Okezie Ikpeazu (PhD) has set the pace by becoming an apprentice himself and giving every budding shoemaker in Aba a sense of pride; encouraging them to put their name on their work.
Hopefully, if the dry project at Ntigha is completed, Aba can compete with the Chinese and other world leaders in the Shoe Industry, flourish and even lend to nations.
Even the good book, in Deuteronomy 28:12, says, “The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none”.