Essentially, he was a marketer but Lee Iacocca, the management guru, built a solid reputation in the automobile industry, long before Elon Musk rode to town with electric cars. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, were Detroit’s Big three auto companies in the United States and he headed the first two. First, Iacocca was president of Ford Motors and the iconoclast, with unrivalled gravitas, took the company to great heights, from 1946 to ’78. Similarly, with sheer grit, marketing skills and ingenuity, he pulled Chrysler Motors from the brink of bankruptcy.
Indeed, his ingenuity spanned engineering and design but in marketing, he was a trailblazer as Iacocca pulled at all stops to push his company’s cars. In fact, he designed advertisement copies, shot commercials and appeared in both, with sales pitch to boot. Marketing, according to him, is key to customers’ brand loyalty and to governments, it sells their politics, policies and philosophies to the people. However, in both cases, the Chief Executive Officer should be the Marketer-in-Chief, leading from the front.
Significantly, Senator Uba Sani, the Kaduna State Governor, seems to subscribe to this hands-on marketing credo to woo investors. Particularly, he has been darting within and outside the country, knocking on doors and selling Kaduna state to both local and foreign investors. The governor, as a marketing strategy , has been flaunting the state’s comparative advantage, especially its young, vibrant and educated population, its business-friendly environment, as well as proximity to the Federal Capital Territory and being the gateway to the north. Indeed, this salesmanship has started bearing fruits in different sectors.
In August, Governor Uba Sani clocked a major milestone in the housing sector, with the ground breaking of the Sanabil Project, initiated by the Qatar Charity, for the construction the Kaduna Economic City and the provision of Mass Housing. Indeed, the project is phenomenal, ambitious and the first of its kind in Nigeria and promises to redefine the country’s estate landscape. The governor, senior government officials and diplomats, including construction stakeholders, converged at Millennium City for the historic event on August 15.
In particular, the Economic City will provide world class infrastructure, make Kaduna a reference point in modern and affordable accommodation, provide adequate security and conducive atmosphere for business activities. Likewise, clinics, shops and poultry farms, including farmlands for all year agriculture, will be provided in the Economic City. Indeed, the city will facilitate international trade, by providing a platform for traders-entrepreneurs interface. In fact, the interaction ‘’will help harness product value chain opportunities and improve economic growth,’’ the governor had promised.
Interestingly, housing is not the only project on the Qatar Charity’s checklist for Kaduna State. The poor, underserved and vulnerable children, the governor revealed, will benefit from scholarships and other empowerment programmes across the 23 local governments. In fact, sewing machines, welding machines and irrigation pumping machines, as well as salon kits, will be distributed to eligible beneficiaries. Likewise, boreholes will be drilled for deserving communities by the Qatar Charity.
Similarly, on October 23, the Governor recorded a major feat in the aviation sector, when Air Peace commenced flight to Kaduna. Earlier, Senator Uba Sani had met with aviation stakeholders, including the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, in his efforts to revive the Kaduna International Airport. Thereafter, he engaged with Barrister Allen Onyeama, Chairman of Air Peace, on October 15 in Abuja. In Kaduna, eight days later, the first flight touched down at the airport, after a 19 month hiatus.
Indeed, the Kaduna International Airport, in its heydays, was a major aviation hub as Air Peace, Aero Contractors and Arik Air, including Med-View and Azman, plied their trades at the air terminal. However, due to insecurity, most airlines gave it a wide berth but Azman still soldiered on. Sadly, on March 26, 2022, bandits had attacked the airport and Azman took flight, suspended its services and left Kaduna in a huff. Largely, the airport had been dormant since then, until Senator Uba Sani intervened last month.
Likewise, a Liquefied Natural Gas production and distribution company, the Greenville LNG, has sited a 24,000 tonnes capacity facility at Kakau, a village in Chikun local government of Kaduna State. In fact, the Compressed Natural Gas, according to the Chairman, Mr Eddy Van Den Broeke, will reduce petroleum and diesel consumption across the country, provide an economical and eco-friendly fuel alternative. Besides, it will revive industries, boost micro, small and medium scale business. Similarly, it will engender economic growth and create jobs, as well as address the state’s needed energy security. Indeed, the facility is the first of its kind in Nigeria and Kaduna State, owing to the governor’s drive, will benefit from the multi-billion dollar investment.
Last Thursday, Senator Uba Sani met with the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates(UAE), Salem Saeed Alshamsi and His Excellency made some commitments. UAE, Al Shamsi promised, will facilitate multi million dollar private investments to Kaduna State, especially in the Agriculture, Infrastructure, Transportation and Clean Energy sectors. Additionally, the Emirati Government will support Kaduna State Government to address developmental challenges.
Clearly, all these investments and commitments, secured within five months, are the result of reaching out, meeting investors and development partners, outlining the vision and mission of the administration, as well as giving assurances of an investment safe haven. Surely, this outdoor marketing and the initial breaking of the ice, amidst security concerns, are best handled by the person on whose table the buck finally stops. That’s the Iaccoca principle—the lightning rod of Senator Uba Sani’s development agenda in Kaduna State.
Ibraheem Musa writes from Kaduna