The St Gabriel Coconut Refinery, Akwa Ibom State is set to commence production in June 2019, according to Mr Gabriel Ukpe, chairman of the technical committee on foreign direct investment.
In a radio programme, he said the refinery would harness the produce from coconut plantain located in Mkpat Enin, which the present state administration, under Udom Emmanuel, has sunk in huge financial resources to see to its completion.
According to him, the governor was sincere about the project because of the enormous value it would add to the state's economic profile.
He said the refinery would also export the products to other places of interest, in addition to servicing the internal needs of Akwa Ibom.
Ukpe also used the medium to announce the state government's readiness to establish the first fertilizer manufacturing outfit in the state, to complement the already existing fertilizer blending plant in Abak.
He noted that the N3 billion manufacturing outfit would be cited in Ikot Abasi, with agreeable equity participation by the state government. “The state government is trying to dot the “I” and cross the “t” before proceeding to clear the site for the much needed project.
On the purposed civil servants housing scheme, he assured that the present administration was very passionate about civil servants accommodation, hence its decision to establish the housing units at Ikot Adaidem, Ibiono Ibom Local Government.
Meanwhile criticism and disbelief have greeted the state government's promises. From Mkpat Enin, Chief Okoko Akpan, a community leader from Odoro Ikot host community of the coconut refinery has accused the state governor of taking them for a ride.
According to him, the state government had not paid the compensation for the massive plot of land which was the only source of livelihood for the remote area.
He berated the state government for only employing their youths as causal labourers, while juicy positions are reserved for outsiders.
And from Ikot Abasi, a former councillor and chairman of Ikot Abasi youth council, Penieu Udonta described the state government's promise as a scam.
According to him, the governor, during his electioneering campaigns, promised to revive ALSCON, link the local government to national grid as they were the host community of Ibom Power Company and to construct Ikot Abasi jetty as the area was naturally blessed with maritime endowment.
“Up till now, four years after, none of those promises is met. Ikot Abasi that houses the power plant that generates electricity that powers the state and beyond is groping in the dark for four years. ALSCON is dead and forgotten. The local government is a dead end. So the promise is a scam,'' he said.