We’ll Address Unemployment Through Agricultural Revolution, Made-in-Aba Goods —Ikpeazu

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The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said in its recently released World Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2017 (WESO) that the number of unemployed persons globally will hit over 201 million in 2017, with an additional rise of 2.7 million expected in 2018.

According to the ILO report is because the pace of labour force growth outstrips job creation, globally. Expected to be worst hit is Africa, and other third world countries where unemployment and poverty have combined to create insecurity and various forms of vices.

In Nigeria for instance, the rate of unemployment is becoming worse daily, coupled with the bad economy which is engineered by over-reliance on mono source of income and product, which is oil. All efforts to find solutions to the issue of unemployment have not yielded much result.

Dr Okezie Ikpeazu

Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that the labour force population, that is those within the working age population willing, able and actively looking for work as at the third quarter of 2016 is 80.67 million. The NBS puts Nigeria’s unemployment rate at an alarming 13.9 per cent within the same time.

With such statistic, it is expected that governments in Nigeria, both at the federal and state level will confront frontally, the issue of unemployment.

In Abia State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, described such statistics as unacceptable, considering the human, material potentials and especially the vast natural resources available in the country.

Adding that the story must change, he vowed to turn Abia State to the hub of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country. Governor Ikpeazu is already putting result-oriented measures in place, which would not just turn the state to the centre of cottage industries, but also ensure that youth in the state are gainfully employed through various measures being put in place.

The state is getting both national and international attention through the Made-in Aba campaign championed by the governor. Recently, the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo who visited Aba, commended the level of transformation that has taken place in terms of employment. He applauded the governor’s “smart business approach to governance,” and concluded that “Nigeria has no business with China-made if all hands are on deck to develop Aba as a major industrial base.”

While delivering a lecture titled: “Unemployment: Who will tame this monster?” Governor Ikpeazu said unemployment has become a socio-economic problem and that since little or nothing has been done to curtail it, “it has had adverse effects on our country and has led to criminal activities and other evil vices.”

The governor identified wrong governmental policies, corruption, lack of skill, ghost workers syndrome, difficulty in accessing capital for businesses, wrong education policies, poor power supply and most importantly the neglect of agriculture as the major factors responsible for unemployment.

He also listed as dangers of the many years of failure to address the issue of unemployment to include high crime-rate, civil unrest, high suicide rate, divorce, frustration and easy availability of political thugs, among other factors.

Speaking on what he called “Abia Example,” Ikpeazu pointed out that his government has put in place various measures in form of policies and business ventures in ensuring that jobs are created while the high rate of unemployment is reduced in the state.

“What we have been able to do in Abia State to stem this tide and create jobs for our people since we came on board include what we called One-Stop Shop/PPP. We have built a One-Stop-Investment Centre which is geared towards easing the process of starting a business in Abia State for investors.

“We have a very short period of providing Certificates of Occupancy and other business requirements so that the businesses can start and employ our people.

“Abia State is currently playing host to the Central Bank of Nigeria Entrepreneurship Development Centre which provides training and empowerment for youths in the South-East. As the host state, naturally, our youths have had the lion share of this programme and quite a number of them have become meaningfully engaged through the programme.