CEM FEATURE | Like every other Local Governments in Nigeria, Etsako-East Local Government is yearning for development in every ramification, from infrastructure to human capital and to the economic power of the people. All these are resting on one thing, which is purposeful leadership with a clear positive vision and strategies to achieve the vision with respect to the numerous obstruction that prevent the advancement of that tier of government.
Etsako-East is one of the Local Governments in Edo State, Nigeria, created from the then Etsako Local Government. It has an area of 1,133 km2 and a population of 145,996 at the 2006 census.
In a chat with Continental Economy Magazine, Fred Akhalame, one of the Chairmanship Aspirants under the platform of People’s Democratic Party, says he has the vision to industrialize the Local Government and that he knows the right strategies to achieve that vision.
Chief Fred Akhalame, a native of Ivioghe Agenebode, is a successful business man in health and pharmaceutical sector having worked with Fidson Healthcare Plc for several years, rising to the position of National Sales Manager, the first non-pharmacist to climb to that rank.
He left Fidson to Medhieght Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a branch of Vitabiotics, a London based multinational where he has grown to become an Executive Director, Sales and marketing.
The MBA holder has served in Edo State Government under Governor Godwin Obaseki as Special Adviser on Grass Roots Strategic Mobilisation.
Chief Fred Akhalame spoke with a high level of authority in his knowledge of the economic history, status and prospects of the people of Etsako-East
“I delivered a lecture some years back which I titled: “Wepa Wano Economic Power” where I excavated critical issues in the economic development path of Weppa Wano and the Etsako people. If there is something I know so well about Etsako-East, is its economic viability. I have taken time to research this so well”; Fred said.
There is no better way to spark off development than creating opportunities for people to engage in meaningful and productive economic activities as history has revealed. Therefore, and sincerely speaking, anybody stepping into the administrative seat of a local government must be able to develop a pathway towards revitalizing the economic opportunities for the local dwellers.
On this, Akhalame said; “I want to recreate the economy of Etsako-East. I have the full knowledge of the challenges confronting our local economy and the resources available to us both in Weppa Wano and Okpella to revitalize our productivity and re-awaken our prosperity.
“Etsako-East is the most endowed in all Afemai region, I must say, we have the resources to compete with a State”.
Of course, Fred Akhalame did not underplay a major challenge that confront all Local Governments in Nigeria which is paucity of funds.
He asked a striking question; “where do States get money from”? Obviously, any State that want serious development must grow its internally generated revenue, IGR
In this light, Fred continued; “Local Government is a tier of government as we have States. We will grow our IGR, we have the river, our markets, and our transportation channels. Our transport was the most viable, many people didn’t see the need to go through Okene when going to Kogi and other States on that axis. We had the ferry and other sources of revenue, we will bring them back. We will increase the capacity of the Local Government transport line for more productivity.
“We will partner with private sector, with our sons and daughters and other investors to set up industries and production outfits. We will explore the tourism potential of our Local Government. The most important resources in a beach is sand and we have it in abundance.”
Chief Fred Akhalame, while speaking in specifics, highlighted some industries that are most viable or will thrive well in Estako-East aligned with some agricultural products that are in abundant supply in the locality.
“Definitely, we still will not rule out private partnership because that is one veritable channel to economic development. Government has no business creating businesses, the only business of government is to create enabling environment for businesses to thrive, that we will do”, Fred said.
“In the whole of Edo State, Weppa Wano produce the highest volume of cashew nuts. These is an industrial raw material in high demand both nationally and globally. Groundnut is another crop we grow so well.
“The first thing I will do when I get to office is to bring in nuts processing industry to process our cashew nut and groundnut.
“Another product in abundance in Weppa Wano is tomato. We will go into discussion with companies that process tomato to establish branches in Etsako-East in partnership to enable them stabilize and continue operation.
“Fishing and fishery is another major occupation and business of our people, we have the water that can sustain multibillion fishing industry in Etsako-East. We will get experts from places notable for fishery to come and train our people on best practices”; Akhalame said.