One of the most critical problems facing Nigeria as a country is unemployment, especially considering its population of over 180million people with youths making about half of the population. Unfortunately, as the youth population grows, it continues to generate unemployment rate.
It is no more news that the youth unemployment in Nigeria is an ever-growing menace successive administration in the country failed to tame. Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, puts Nigeria’s unemployment rate at an alarming 13.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2016.
According to the NBS report, the labour force population (i.e those within the working age population willing, able and actively looking for work) increased to 80.67 million from 79.9 million in second quarter.
Such indices appear scary indeed as analysts have attributed some social vices and youth restiveness to products of unemployment. This has proved a challenge for both federal and state government as they continue to tackle insecurity by ensuring youth empowerment.
The menace of unemployment has been blamed for youth restiveness and insecurity in the various parts of the country. In the north, public commentators have repeatedly blamed the inability of northern governors to tame youth unemployment as the reason behind the rise in the Boko Haram insurgency. Just as South-East region has had its own fair share of the negative sides of youth unemployment. A few years ago, Aba, one of the most popular cities in Nigeria became a den for kidnappers. And analysts and security experts blamed the trend on the high rate of youth unemployment.
Over the years, various models introduced by previous administrations to address the challenges of unemployment failed to achieve required results. But the story appears to be changing as the administration of the current Abia State governor, Dr Ikpeazu is putting result-oriented measures in place that will not just turn Aba as the SME hub in Nigeria, but will ensure the young and vibrant Abians are gainfully employed and empowered to become self reliant.
Currently, the Made-in Aba campaign being championed by the governor is getting both national and international attention that the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo who recently visited Aba was in awe of the level transformation that has taken place in the city. And commending Governor Ikpeazu’s “smart business approach to governance”, said “Nigeria has no business with China if all hands are on deck to develop Aba as a major industrial Base.”
Recently delivering a lecture titled: “unemployment: who will tame this monster”, Governor Ikpeazu, said “Unemployment have become a socio-economic problem and since little or nothing had been done to put it on check, it has had adverse effects on our country and has led to criminal activities and other evil vices.”
While he quickly identified wrong government policies, corruption, lack of skill, ghost workers holding real jobs, difficulty in accessing capital for businesses, wrong education policies, poor power supply and neglect of farming as major factors responsible for unemployment, he also listed high crime-rate, civil unrest, high suicide rate, divorce, frustration, easy availability of political thugs among other factors as dangers of failure to tackle unemployment.
As a State Governor, one can only but imagine what his government is doing to tackle and bring result oriented and lasting solution to the menace of unemployment, having importantly listed wrong government polices among other factors as responsible for the growing rate of unemployment in the country.
But amazingly, he brought to fore what he called “Abia Example”. And went on to reveal various measures in form of policies and business ventures his government is putting in place to ensuring that the monstrous face of unemployment is defeated in Abia state.
His words, “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”, includes 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 CBN 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.
“We are running a programme in Abia State which has seen to the emphasising of Technical and Vocational Education in our Secondary Schools so that students leaving secondary schools in Abia State will be imbued with skills such that even when they choose not to attend University, they will have life-sustaining skills.”
Governor Ikpeazu went on said, “Everyone is aware of the massive work we are doing to promote patronage of Made In Aba goods. This sustained advocacy has led to increased patronage, increased capacity on the part of the producers and ultimately, hiring of more hands to keep up with the high orders in the shoes, leather and garment and support services sector of Abia State.
“A Cashew Plantations in Abia State which were lying fallow for a long time is now being take charge by an illustrious Abian, Chief Chris Odinaka Igwe. He is bringing in new species and replicating the plantation scheme in the 17 Local Government Areas which is targeted at creating about 100,000 jobs for our people.
“We are massively revolutionalising agricultural practices in our state by introducing tractors and other mechanisation inputs. We have partnered with the University of Agriculture and Roots Crop Research Institute in our State to cultivate high-yielding species of different crips which provide quicker maturity-periods and higher yields. We have engaged over 200,000 Abians in our agricultural revolution.”
Also, notable to the measures towards achieving sustainable development which in turn will facilitate job creation in Abia state, Mr. Enyinnaya Appolos, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, revealed that Governor Ipeazu recently led a team of Private Sector Investment Partners, which includes Prof Barth Nnaji, the CEO of Geometrics Power, Mr. Darl Uzu , MD Crown Realities Plc., the lead promoters of the Enyimba Free Trade Zone project, and Dr Pascal Dozie, Chairman MTN Communications Limited to a one-day investmeant meeting with African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in Cairo, Egypt.
The meeting he said was at the invitation of the Afreximbank President, Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah, for a discussion on partnership opportunities in the development of a free trade zone project known as Enyimba Free Trade Zone Project and completion of Geometric Power project at Aba.
And just last week, Governor Ikpeazu revealed in a town hall meeting in Umuahia that Afreximbank has agreed to invest 100 million dollars in Geometric Power project located in Aba. And those Chinese shareholders who invested 1 billion dollar in Afreximbank have approved the investment because of their interest in Aba.
To this end, the Director General of the International Labour Organisation, ILO, Guy Ryder, said that “lack of decent jobs drives people worried and causes fear that aspirations for a better life will remain unfulfilled. Therefore that “a people-oriented government or leader is one that seeks to develop the city by providing jobs, which in turn provide food and peace to the human society.