By Stanley Chiamaka
It is trite to say job creation is crucial for a healthy economy to fire growth and improve the lives of the citizenry. And since the importance of creating jobs is to ensure a stable and progressive society, the electorate and the general public are always keen to know what an intending public office holder/seeker has in stock for them in terms of jobs/employment creation. Therefore, as September 19 approaches, Edo State is also not left out of that consideration.
The level of enlightenment among voters in Edo State ahead the coming governorship election has increased significantly. People are more interested in who governs them and what benefits are available through the various choices as revealed in their manifestoes.
This is where the Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his handlers appear, to be ahead of their main rival, incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki. They must have learnt this all-important fact, because his contract with the people, simplified as the ‘SIMPLE Agenda’, which has long been presented to the public, clearly indicates his readiness to tackle the menace of unemployment head-on.
Manifestoes are the ideas or plans of what a candidate projects to do to address societal problems and the SIMPLE Agenda presented by the APC candidate in Edo State comes as one, which understands the problem of shortage of gainful employment, the right measures for its alleviation and possible eradication.
One way to generate employment is to create enterprises that are self-sustainable. Corporations and governments must be innovative as they seek to solve the hydra-headed problem of unemployment. Reasonable government will achieve so much in doing this with corporate engagements that can justify investment and ensure returns on investment.
Though governments like that of Edo State are different from other conventional profit-oriented entities, and this seems to have prompted the approach that Mr. Ize-Iyamu and the Edo APC have adopted in their blueprint on how to move the state forward in respect of employment generation.
The SIMPLE Agenda reveals that, Mr Ize-Iyamu, when elected governor would embark on the maximisation of every government engagements towards creation of gainful employment for the Edo people. In other words, governments will generate jobs from every programme, project and activity in each of the 18 local government areas of the state.
The “SIMPLE AGENDA”, an acronym for Security, Infrastructural development, Manpower development, Public private partnership, Leadership and Employment creation, is an action plan with the potential to transform lives of the people if followed to the letters.
Ize-Iyamu promises over 75, 000 direct and indirect job opportunities in a well-calculated projection based on job creation through policies and programmes enumerated in his SIMPLE agenda within a period of fours years.
As revealed in the document, every government undertaking aimed at generating revenue would also provide opportunity of gainful employment to the teeming masses, and as well, solve socio-economic problems of the people.
Every policy will serve the dual purpose of wealth creation and economic empowerment and amelioration of the sufferings of the masses.
Not only that jobs will be created in sectors such as education, agriculture and rural development, housing, electrification, fire service, industrialisation, waste management system, employment creation and social empowerment as well as water supply; the promise of the sustenance of existing jobs contained in his manifesto have endeared Ize-Iyamu the more to the electorate.
Government retrenching or downsizing the workforce would no longer be acceptable to the people. They desire a government that would guarantee existing ones and as well create more jobs.
The highest point for the majority observer is the well thought-out Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme through, which the administration will seek counterparting with stakeholders, banks and financial institutions to resuscitate the moribund state-owned industries.
He listed a few of them to include the fertilizer plant, Auchi; Cassavita industry, Uromi; Ava cement factory, Akoko-Edo; fruit juice factory, Ehor; Bendel Brewery, Benin City and Ewu flour mill, among others.
In this, financial institutions, industrialists, Chambers of Commerce, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and other stakeholders will partner the government on resuscitation of failed and failing industries – all in a bid to generate revenue, create employment opportunities and by extension, improve upon the lives of the citizens.
This is undoubtedly a great way to improve on people’s lives. Industrial clusters in the three senatorial districts namely Edo South, Central and North. Each of the senatorial districts will directly mop up at least 10,000 able-bodied men from the streets in direct engagement.
This means at least 30,000 employment opportunities for the Edo people. Edo State is reputed to having 21 per cent unemployment rate as at 2019 and this means that out of about 600,000 job seekers in the state, not less than 30,000 will be gainfully engaged through the Public Private Participation to revamp government-owned ailing industries alone.
The SIMPLE agenda recognises the importance of education and provision of power supply to the continued sustenance of national livelihood and is set to give this proper attention to guarantee a living economy. The agenda will characteristically preserve existing jobs, as well as create additional opportunities.
Any policy with the capacity to create 2000 direct jobs in the electricity-dependent industries and additional 1000 small scale businesses to be aided by the government among rural dwellers is a good bargain for the Edo electorate. 1000 newly found businesses will in turn create at least 2000 direct and indirect job spaces.
In the area of water supply, the document promises to make shortage a thing of the past as existing jobs will be safeguarded while an additional 10,000 construction-related employment opportunities will be created, while the government seeks heavy investments in the sector.
The SIMPLE agenda is clearly a product of many experiences of Pastor Ize-Iyamu after many years in the service of the Edo people in different capacities since 1999.
As a former Chief of Staff and later Secretary to the Edo State Government, he would certainly bring his wealth of experience and knowledge in the various sectors of the state’s economy to bear.
From Education to waste management, the APC manifesto for Edo State will generate more wealth than any past government. The government will partner the private sector to provide a better living standard for the populace in a counterpart arrangement that would also create sustainable employment from emerging corporations while generating the needed revenue for the government.
*Chiamaka wrote from Warri, Delta State