By: Oke Ezeh
NEARLY A MILLION YOUTHS ARE UNEMPLOYED IN IMO STATE
A management consultant, Mr. Okey Ezeh, says there is need for a leadership that will immediately re-order priorities to face the existential threat of festering unemployment in Imo State. The chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in a chat with journalists in Owerri, weekend, maintained that the state requires a leadership that will funnel resources away from non-regenerative, cosmetic schemes to agro-based industrialization drive using the industrial cluster model that will be spread across the three zones of the state. He emphasized the up-skilling and building of human capacity and improvement of all aspects of financing and access to finance by SMEs through deliberative actions and interventions. A key priority, he said, will be to unleash the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of Imo people who are known to be great innovators.
“The National Employment Survey currently estimates that Imo has 800,000.00 unemployed youths. This is completely unacceptable. It is not the vision of our great forebears and so it must be reversed with the urgency that it requires. Imo is not beyond salvation. We have another opportunity to reinvent the state and harness our vast natural and human resources to the benefit of all.
“We desperately need a leader that will run a transparent and accountable, value-for-money administration with zero tolerance for corruption, ineptitude and cronyism. This alone will free up huge resources that will be applied to harnessing our virtually limitless agricultural potentials. We need a visionary leader that will invest in high-yield fertilizers and introduce organic, high-yield seedling varieties to not only shore up food security in the state but to create the capacity required for the agro-industrial transformation of the state. We need an achiever that will bring back the Farm Settlements of the Michael Okpara era. We need another Alvan Ikoku that will revamp our near-comatose educational system with improved funding, better learning tools and training and re-training of teachers. Such a man will additionally attract grants for our tertiary institutions and enroll them in offshore support programmes, exchanges and linkages that will promote skills and knowledge transfer with institutions of international repute,” Mr. Ezeh averred.
He said one of the ways the state can banish unemployment and revolutionize agriculture is by training young school leavers as ‘agripreneurs’ to take advantage of the opportunities in the entire agricultural value chain, setting up processing facilities, tractors, in-farm housing units in each of the three senatorial zones, establishing seed multiplication farms – livestock and fish breeding centers – to facilitate access to high-yielding and disease-resistant inputs (livestock and fingerlings), and creating special units for packaging for export in order to earn foreign exchange.