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Taraba will soon begin export of Tea to other countries – Iliya Ezekiel

by Ifeoluwa Awosoji

October 11, 2018 | 4:32 pm
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Taraba will soon begin export of Tea to other countries - Iliya Ezekiel
Iliya Ezekiel is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Taraba State Investment and Properties Company Limited. In this interview with our correspondent Nathaniel Gbaoron in Jalingo, the MD revealed how seven moribund companies belonging to the state government were revived within a short time and the plans by the State Government to begin exportation of Tea to other countries by the end of this year. Excerpts:
Sir, we learnt that seven moribund companies belonging to the state government have been revived by this administration.  Can you tell us how you are able to do this?
Thank you very much.  First, let me mention these companies to you before I start talking about them. One of the companies we have revived is
The Mambila Beverages Nigeria Limited, which is located in Kakara village on the plateau. The company was indebted and was not working until we came in and cleared the debt and injected a working capital, machineries, hydro dam to power the  machines at the factory.
We started to re-engineer by engaging good hands to work in the company. All these were done by the assistance of Governor Darius Ishaku and today I can proudly tell you that Mambila Beverages is delivering profit above our expectations.
Since the establishment of the tea company, this is the first time the company generate profit above expectations. Last year was over 10,000 percent over it projected revenue and that is to say the company has hugely performed and it need more marching in other to expand and meet the demand of our customers and we are making plans to start the exportation of the tea.
It is also worthy of note that products of the company has been accepted in Germany, Niger Republic, Chad Republic, Japan, China and many other African countries that are not producing tea.
The second company that we have  revived is Taraba Gas, which is located along Yola road,  here in Jalingo. The company had collapsed due to poor management before His Excellency assume office as Governor. But with the coming of Governor Darius Ishaku, he empowered the company by injecting funds into the company and today,  the company is doing great.
The company was only rendering only restaurant services before the coming on board of the Governor, but today the company is delivering the best gas to the people.
The third company we have revived is Taraba Oils limited popularly called (TOM) oil and the factory located in Kurmi local government area.
When we visited the company site in October 2016, there was no single building standing,  but when I went back with my team last year, the company had commence production and today, the oil is all over the country.
According to the recent research by some universities, our Palm oil is the best oil they have ever seen. The oil is wildly accepted and we are producing in large quantity. We hope that before the end of this year, Taraba oil would be the best oil in Nigeria.
We have over 35,000 Palm seedlings ready to transplant and also over 6 plantation in Baissa, Bali, Gashaka and Daka.
We have a vast land that can be able to accommodate this plantations,  but for now, we are concentrating on Kurmi so that they can establish a base there.
We also want to encourage up growers (villagers) in these localities  to plant the improved seedlings which take less time to produce. We would give them hybrid seeds that in three years they can be able to harvest and sale the seed to us for production.
There are enough offices and laboratories in the company, and it may interest you to know that the machines that are producing this oil were sourced locally, some are even produced here in Jalingo and they are producing the oil that even foreign machines can not produce.
So,  how did you discovered this technology?
It’s all about determination, when your determination is to do something then, you always finds it easy.
The other company we have revived  is Trip Poly limited which is located here in the Investment House.
For over years, the people of Taraba state used to travel as far as Jos in Plateau State and sometimes Kano to buy poly products, but today, our company is producing it in high quality and we have employed over (30) indigenes of Taraba state who are working there.
All these companies we are talking about here are paying their staffs on their on and that is very important.
Let me take you to Zing, where we have Viva Feed Mills Limited.
Viva Feed Mills Limited started in the then Gongola state. The company had stop production for over a decade but now His Excellency, Governor Darius Ishaku has brought the company to life. We are producing feeds for our
Chicken farmers and we also have a pilot farm that has about 25,000 birds.
Let’s move to Taraba Savings and Loans limited. Before my coming in as (MD), Taraba Savings and Loans Limited was performing very low until 2016, when the Governor came to the aid of the company.  With the assistance of the Governor, we were able to come up with a very reasonable margin of revenue .
In 2017, we improved more and the N2bn capitalisation they asked us to meet, we are almost there. Let me take you to Taraba Microfinance Bank. Before I came in, there was gross mismanagement and the Bank was shaking, but with the efforts of the Governor and I, we were able to make profit in the last two years and the Bank is no longer shaking and because of the way we were able to manage these companies, government was able to transfer the management of Taraba Vegetables to Taraba Investment and Properties Limited are we are managing the company very well.
We are happy to have you here today to tell you what the government of Governor Darius Ishaku through Taraba Investment is doing and we are planning also to revive the Tomato Company in Lau.
We have also engage some companies to come and involve in the exploration of our solid minerals.
We are not stopping at that, the Taraba cassava has also been acquired by another company that is going to handle the company in such a manner that every body would enjoy. I learnt they have the capacity to recruit 2000 staff.
With all these, we believe that by the end of Governor Darius Ishaku’s eight years, Taraba would be one of the best place for one to come and invest.
Sir, what are the plans put in place to ensure the sustainability of these companies beyond this administration? 
Thank you very much. The number one strategy is discipline of the staff. If you don’t discipline, no matter what, people would violent and destroy the company.
Number two, after we have done all these and the companies are delivering perfect like that of Mambilla Beverages, we are going to give out percentage of our equity to the public. Government is planning to retain only 40 percent equity while the rest of the shares are sold out to interested members of the public.
Number three, sustainability has to do with auditing. If you don’t audit your staff, no matter how honest they are they, you might still have some issues.
Sir, you talked about plans by the government to commence tea export to other countries, but Nigeria does not have a tea policy to warrant that, so, how are you going to go about it? 
Thank you. Taraba state is an agricultural state and tea is one of the major crops we produced here and we are putting in place necessary plans to make tea the number one chosen crop in the state. So, we are doing everything possible to review the policy to enable us start tea exportation.
I assure you that before this week ends, tea policy would be drafted in a concrete way and we would submit it to the Governor for his input and to give us the go ahead to submit to the federal government.
Apart from this drive, we have discovered that we can do low land tea and we have identified, Ussa, Bali, Gashaka,  Kurmi, Donga, Takum and parts of Wukari local government areas as possible areas that we can plant low land tea.
These local government areas can produce tea. Few days we held a meeting with all the chairmen and they all agreed to provide land for us to start the production.
We have also engaged some tea experts and investors and they said immediately we start planting the tea (low land) in three years we can establish a factories in these areas. I  want to tell you that what the Governor is trying to do is all about poverty reduction in the state.
Each of these local governments can have up to ten of this tea factories and a factory can employ up to 500 people. So, if a local government has ten factories automatically 5000 youth would be employed.
Sir, from what you outlined here Taraba cassava alone can employed about 3000 people and each of the other companies too have engaged a good number of people. Can you tell us the contributions of these companies to the Internally Generated Revenue of the state and to the GDP?
Well,  I cannot be able to tell you in percentage terms, how these companies are contributing to the GDP and IGR of the state,  but certainly there is an increase.  When you talk about GDP, you mean gross domestic product, I can proudly tell you that the GDP of this state has risen up.
There are projects going on every where and a lot of activities that requires money are going on.
So, that is a clear indication that the state (GDP) has risen to a particular step.
Sir, the population of Taraba is increasing, is your company looking at investment in housing to address the issue of Housing deficit?  
Yes, we have already started, we have one in Technobat area of Jalingo. We are hopping to get more from government so that we can manage them, the DDI Garden along Wukari Road will be given to us to manage as soon as it is completed.
Sir, all these happened when our economy was down. So, how were you able to achieve all these in a depressed economy (recession)? 
I am happy to tell you that Taraba has contributed more than any other state in the country in bringing Nigeria out of recession based on the resources at our disposal.
The number two secret is the integrity of the Governor,  Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku. What ever he says he is going to do for Taraba, he does it and that is why you see we have achieved all these within a short time. I am proud to tell you that Taraba state has an architect of development which is Governor Darius Ishaku. Determination is another secret. The Governor has the determination as an architect to develop Taraba State.
What is your advice to your staff?
My advice to them is to sustain the way of integrity and discipline so that they can be good managers in future.
Where have you seen Taraba State economically in the nearest future?  
By the time all our plans for the state in diversifying her economy materialized, Taraba would be on a sound footing and of the greatest economy in the North East and by extension Nigeria.

by Ifeoluwa Awosoji

October 11, 2018 | 4:32 pm
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

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