Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former Head of State, has said that the industrial progress in Nnewi, Anambra, is a great contribution to the Nigerian economy.
Abubakar made the observation in Nnewi on Saturday when he visited some of the firms in the town owned by the indigenes.
The former president who also inaugurated the Nnewi Hotels and Events Centre said that local manufacturers iin the country needed every enabling enabling environment to succeed.
Some of the factories visited, include Chikason Group , Ibeto Group, Capital Oil and Gas,mTummy Tummy Noddles and the ongoing FC IfeanyiUbah iInternational Stadium project all in Nnewi.
He expressed optimism that the unemployment challenges would be greatly addressed if the industrialists were supported.
“They used to tell me of the industrial progress in Nnewi but now I have seen for myself and I never believed it was like this.
“No economy survives on importation, so they should be given all necessary encouragement,” he said.
The Chairman of Chikason Group, Dr Chika Okafor, who spoke with newsmen, said the manufacturing sector in Nigeria was plagued with high cost of operations.
Okafor said his firm which had over 3,200 staff in its employment relied wholly on self-power generation which was threatening the survival of businesses.
He also said the current difficulties in accessing foreign exchange was hampering the operations due to inability to procure foreign raw material input.
“Government should support us here in Nnewi. This is the only town that has grown to what it is today with 99 per cent contribution from indigenes, and nothing from government.
“We face several challenges everyday, but the most pressing ones are power and foreign exchange for the procurement of raw materials.
“We run 175,000 litres of diesel every week here. We are managing to sustain the factory from what we make from other businesses.
“We have a mining arm, agriculture, real estate and we are also into oil and gas. If I retrench them, where will they go from here?”
He called on the Federal Government to come to the aid of industrialists through the provision of foreign exchange and to tackle the perennial problem of power in the country.
Also, Dr Ben Aghazu, owner of the hotel, said he venture into the tourism sector because of its potential as foreign exchange earner.
Okafor called on the government to provide minimum infrastructure, including roads and power to help the enterprise grow.