Ngor Okpala- in Owerri senatorial zone, is one of the largest local governments in Imo State/Nigeria. The local government has a rich political history, with an estimated current population of over 300,000 people. It also has huge oil and gas potentials and is endowed with a large expanse of land.
Yes, the local government is strategic to Imo State’s industrial growth and truly has the capacity to become an industrial/agricultural hub of Imo State. However, certain strategic conditions are required:
First, the roads and basic infrastructures in Ngor Okpala, are in very poor conditions. There is a need to commence the urgent construction and rehabilitation of key roads in Ngor Okpala to improve the ease of doing business in the area and the movement of agricultural products across and outside the communities in the local government.
Some, of the roads – which demand immediate attention are the Ulakwo- Imerienwe- Umuekwene Road, the Okpala- Eziamma- Alulu- Amala Road, the Imerienwe- Umuokoro Road, the Eke Obiangwu- Umuolulu- Umuoye Enyiogugu Road, the Ulakwo/ Nguru/Umuneke/Eziama Road, etc.
Again, the local government is endowed with fertile landmass, and to that extent, has significant comparative advantages/potentials in the areas of farming/agriculture and food production.
To this extent, the construction of integrated agricultural facilities possibly, along the banks of Uramurukwa River- around Ulakwo/Imerienwe, etc. axis and along the Umuekwene- Etche Road axis would be pertinent in delivering value to the communities, the local government, and the State.
The integrated agricultural facilities could be in the areas of snail farming, piggery farming, oil palm production, livestock farming, cassava farming, plantain/banana farming, and other cash crops- using both traditional methods and new technologies to enhance output and productivity.
The facilities would employ thousands of young men/women and would redefine Ngor- Okpala as ‘the food basket’ of Imo State, as well as, open up the rural economies of the local government.
Third, there is an urgent need to construct, modern Agricultural Produce Markets (APMS), possibly along Umuowa – Imo Airport and other strategic axes.
The Agricultural Produce Markets would serve as focal points for the buying and selling of agricultural products produced in the rural communities of the local government, and other neighboring local governments such as Owerri West, and Aboh Mbaise local government.
The markets would connect farmers with off-takers, deepen competitiveness among producers, and stimulate economic/trade activities within the local government.
Furthermore, the markets (APMS) would generate local employment opportunities for the communities, as well as increase the revenue potentials of the local government and that of Imo State Government in general.
Fourth- the huge land acquired, by the state government, around Amala/Eziamma communities in Ngor Okpala, should be developed as an industrial cluster as a matter of urgency.
This project- which had been abandoned for many years, by successive state governments, should be revisited and possibly funded under an investment option – that would require minimal cash- outlay from the state government.
These key strategic steps, in addition to the renovation of health centers/facilities and public schools across the local government would help to strategically position Ngor Okpala, in the economic calculus of Imo State.
Note: Parts of this write up were drawn from the submissions of an Economic Forum- of which I was a member and the Secretary.
Chijioke Churuba is the Managing Consultant/CEO – Sprog Consulting Limited.