Akwa Ibom unemployment rate exaggerated – Official

Mr Charles Udoh, Commissioner for Information, Akwa Ibom State
Mr Charles Udoh, Commissioner for Information, Akwa Ibom State

The Commissioner for Information in Akwa Ibom State, Charles Udoh, has faulted the inclusion of the state among those with high unemployment rate in Nigeria.

Akwa Ibom is ranked second among states with the highest unemployment rate, according to 2018 data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly recently passed a bill that will make it mandatory for companies doing business in the state to employ at least 10 per cent of its senior workers and 70 per cent of junior workers from among the indigenes of the state.

The NBS data on unemployment in the state is wrong, Mr Udoh said in an interview with an online television, Passion TV.

“Did they count the farmers in Ini Local Government Area rice plantation? No. Did they count the workers employed by entrepreneurs who are cashing in on the wealth-creation programmes of the state government?” Mr Udoh said in the interview published on Tuesday.

“Take the syringe industry as an example. It may have about 100 people employed directly. There are also distributors, and each of those distributors has their employees.

“Those companies have service providers, and each of those service providers are registered entities with their own employees.

“If you step out of the syringe company, for instance, and go into the local community, the Mama Asuquo who ordinarily would not have had any means of livelihood, can today open a fast-food business because she is guaranteed that everyday people would come to do business in the syringe company, and they would need food. The workers in the company too would need food.

“Beyond that, the value of land and properties around that community begin to appreciate, the quality of life begin to appreciate, and people begin to see things differently.

The commissioner said job creation and poverty alleviation are among the key drivers of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, but that it was, however, impossible to provide the exact number of people employed through the opportunities created by the administration.

“When you talk about statistics, you need to have an aggregated statistics, and it’s practically impossible,” he said. “As we speak, there are cottage industries. This government did not promise employment into the state civil service; this government promised job creation, wealth-creation, and poverty alleviation.”

Mr Udoh listed the syringe manufacturing company, the metering factory, and the pencil manufacturing company as part of the success story of the administration.

He said the government was in the process of setting up a coconut refinery, flour mill, and a plastic manufacturing company in the state.

“The government in the last three years has been focusing on industrialisation, tourism, and agriculture.

“From the feedback we are getting from the streets, we can say that this government in the past three years has surpassed expectation.”

The commissioner explained the state’s model for industrialisation.

“History tells us that industrialisation effort in the past in Nigeria and other developing countries have been stagnated because of certain challenges; the challenges range from the fact that most of those industries were set up as an extended arm of one government parastatal or the other. Two, because of undue interference by government.

“But here in Akwa Ibom State what we have done is to say ‘Look, how did the developed countries arrived at the destination we are pursuing?’

“Simply, what they did was to look at where the opportunities are, and find interested and competent partners, and partnered with them to bring that technology home and then of course that technology becomes a major benefit for the local economy, and that is what we have done today.”

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