Apart from insecurity, ignorance or illiteracy and disease, the greatest ill or rather scourge, evil or sickness ravaging the 36 states of Nigeria with greater emphasis on our dear state is unemployment. This is probably the mother of all other ills and evils bedeviling our nation for some decades now and as there has been lack of profitable jobs, otherwise referred to as “unemployment”.
Unemployment in Nigeria particularly in our land-locked but seemingly over populated state of Imo appears to defy every solution and above all the capacity of successive governments in Imo or can we aptly state that politicians have been paying lip service to the dearth of jobs within our domain. It is a well known fact that all other factors that hamper the individual and collective progress, development, well-being, growth of the society are occasioned by lack of profitable jobs.
Unemployment leads to poverty, starvation, hunger, anger, robbery, drug peddling, kidnapping, prostitution, child trafficking, drug addiction, rape, frustration and sorrow or agony. The Holy book teaches us to believe that an idle brain is the devils workshop. The escalating rate of joblessness among Imo youths and women have forced so many into doing several unthinkable or unfathomable things to eke out living, including illegal migration to other states or countries, where they carry out nefarious acts which make them unwanted or declared personae non-grata or attract xenophobic attacks to themselves as witnessed recently in South Africa, Ghana and Malaysia, where majority of the deportees are known to be Imolites.
The case of unemployment is more pronounced within the category of graduate youths, who usually come out of over twenty tertiary institutions in the state, yet government, voluntary agencies and individuals continue to invest and develop more schools without commensurate plans to establish agencies, companies, industries or factories to absorb the teeming products of these myriads of institutions hence these young minds indulge in all sorts of crimes or criminality to engage their inquisitive minds, time or practice their learning.
There is no doubt that no government, no matter how generous or benevolent, can engage all the teeming youths without the co-operation of the private sector, the community or local government system. But the government and the society is in a position to create enabling conditions to provide avenues for employment.
Since the exit of the legendary, Dee Sam Mbakwe as governor in 1983, subsequent governments have not thought it wise to establish more avenues for employment and Imo State government last offered employment under the Udenwa administration with Obasanjo’s Poverty Alleviation Programme. Dr Ikedi Ohakim’s four years tenure never employed anyone nor created any industry. The Okorocha mission was busy creating job! job!! job and industry! industry!! industry!!!, only on bill boards, after proscribing Ohakims 10,000 job beneficiaries, which came as a political offer to lure the youths into returning him to office after four years.
Now that we have embarked on Rebuild Imo, let us revive all the Sam Mbakwe built industries, open the roads and install power with water supply at the Onitsha Industrial Layout, Naze Industrial Cluster, create small scale industries, establish small scale industries or cottage industries. Let our big brothers, entrepreneurs in Lagos, Kano, Abuja and in diaspora bring home their establishments in Owerri, Orlu, Ahiara, Obowo, Ihitte/Uboma and Okigwe to create jobs for the teeming graduates or professional youths. It is time we looked into solving the unemployment saga in Imo state and stop creating more academic institutions, since there are no employment opportunities.
As usual, let all hands be on deck. We must resolve to tackle unemployment frontally in Imo. It is a task for all of us.
For a start towards ameliorating this scourge of joblessness in Imo, government should give waiver to the 27 LGAs to fill all vacant positions, revive all the 20 abandoned industries in the state and encourage investors by providing enabling environment. Efforts must be made to restore all destroyed or abandoned markets, artisan villages, abandoned commercial farms and set up new co-operative farms, increase ICT centres in the state, and above all revive commercial farming.