Save ALSCON, bring back our light

SIR: An ailing ALSCON portends grave danger not only for the people of Ikot Abasi, but also for our country as a whole. Nigeria is well endowed with millions of young people who are physically, mentally, psychologically, and academically fit and willing to work. ALSCON’s coming provided immense relief for thousands of our people and was a source of tremendous hope for our nation. Young men and women from all over the country worked there, occupying intermediate, lower, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled positions with steady incomes and ability to plan their lives. With increased business, social, religious, hospitality as well as tourist attractions, it was only a matter of time before Ikot Abasi became one of the most developed and busiest places in Nigeria. Now that the “light” is gone, what kind of life are the people expected to live?

  We cannot afford to allow ALSCON to join the long list of mismanaged projects that litter our national landscape. A country that cannot manage what it has, in spite of its abundant human capital, is courting monumental disaster. Where is the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill today? Where are all our refineries? These are massive, labour-absorbing projects that could have seen millions of Nigerians gainfully employed.

  ALSCON is not one that should be treated with indifference by the Federal Government; rather, it is an issue that requires urgent pragmatic action. A project as costly and yet as promising as ALSCON should not be left to the vagaries of Nigerian politics and ethnic sentimentalities.  As my people, the Ibibio, would ask rhetorically: Ntak ekon nnyin amisidokho mbot-o? (Why doesn’t our masquerader climb the hill?). Lest we forget, Ghana’s Volta Aluminum Company (VALCO) has been producing since September 24, 1966 when it was commissioned.  Today, it is being managed exclusively by the Ghanaians as a great success story.

  The people of Ikot Abasi want full operations back at ALSCON. They are asking the Federal Government and all the other relevant stakeholders to bail out the company, restore jobs and return power to the people. To allow ALSCON to wind down does not portray vision and strategic thinking on the part of our leaders. I do not know how many enterprises in this country with strong government interest operate at full capacities, years after they were set up. When a place like Ikot Abasi that has experienced improved standard of living and steady electricity is suddenly thrown into darkness, life is bound to return to the state of nature with unemployment and other social ills coming back in full force.

  Young businesses operating in Ikot Abasi that are patriotically trying to contribute to the economy through the small and medium scale enterprise, need encouragement, not frustration. 

• Ime Jonah,

Akwa Ibom State. 

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