From the 3.8 trillion Naira revenue Nigeria shared in the first half of 2019, it has been shown that Delta State had the highest share of about 109 billion Naira. It has been so for more than the 20 years of the current democracy in Nigeria. Delta State does have about the highest National Revenue Allocations but development on ground has not reflected what we have made as a State and people over the years. Largely as a results of misplacement of priority resulting from poor economic development strategy and planning and also endemic corruption.
Interesting to note that Delta State may have spent more money in social infrastructure development over 20 years of the current democratic system in Nigeria but today Lagos State is far more development economically than Delta State due to largely the obvious different economic development strategy of both states. While Delta State is developing social infrastructure like tertiary education facilities everywhere, Stadium everywhere, roads that leads to areas of little or no economic benefits, airports etc Lagos State has been committed in developing Industrial Estates, Industrial Cities, Free Trade Zones like the Lekki-Epe Free Trade Zone, Eko Atlantic City, Lagos State Deep Water Logistics Zone (LADOL), Several Industrial Estates and commercial markets etc. This has made Lagos State most viable for private investments and made most of the oil companies and service companies operating in Delta State, including manufacturing companies moved to Lagos State. Situation was definitely worsened by insecurity in the past.
This write up is not in anyway to criticize the Delta State Government but to advise the current Governor of Delta State to make fundamental change in economic development policy direction of the State that would enable the State to commit a minimum of 25 percent to Industrial Development of Delta State. With the assumption of 400 billion Naira annual State Budget for instance, that would amount to 100 billion Naira. Thus, within the next 20 years, the Delta State Government may have committed 2 trillion Naira to Industrial Development with huge expected returns in economic benefits.
In terms of strategy of implementation, the Government of Delta State should make it as a law through an executive bill that would be passed through the State House of Assembly, signed into law and gazetted as a law. This will make the policy outlive the current administration. A ministry of Industrial, Investments and Trade Development may be needed to develop the strategy and coordinate the affairs of the Delta State Investments Develop Agency (DIDA) and other agencies like Delta State EXIM Bank that should be develop to support companies with viable business to export goods, agro produces or products manufactured in Delta State.
The Industrial Development strategy could commence with the development of:
1. Asaba Industrial Park in Delta North due to the strategic locations of Asaba as Gate way to South East Geopolitical Zone.
2. Warri Industrial Park in Delta State with a view to develop safe haven industrial clusters of corporate office for oil operating companies and service companies in Warri, Delta State.
3. Sapele Industrial City (SICITY) in Delta Central with a view to develop a save haven free trade zones that would utilize the vast gas resources of the State to drive manufacturing process.
4. Development of a minimum of 1000 hectares of land in all Local Government of the State In cultivating cash crops like palm trees, timber, cocoa, rubber, cassava, fruits, coconut plantations etc.
If these measures are diligently and judiciously put in place, other social sectors and areas like healthcare, education, security, employments for youths, wealth creation etc would be developed naturally. Delta State economy could become the fastest growing economy in Nigeria or perhaps Africa within the next 20 years, if these strategy is adopted.
Roland E. IDIMI (UBIOMOR).