Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State on Saturday said the creation of 500,000 jobs in the next three years in Imo is inevitable for the state’s post Covid-19 recovery.
The governor said this in the remarks he made during a virtual conference of Imo economic stakeholders on agenda for Imo State post-COVID-19 Recovery.
Apart from soliciting synergy with stakeholders on Imo State’s economy, the governor invited members of the Imo Economic Development Initiative (IEDI) to partner with his administration to realise the objective of creating jobs for the teeming unemployed Imo youths.
The conference was put together by the IEDI, a group of Imo intellectuals, captains of industry and renowned entrepreneurs, among others, led by Maurice Iwu, a renowned professor of virology.
Governor Uzodimma who described the conference as “timely and most cogent” was full of appreciation to Iwu for putting together the virtual meeting that had quality participation of members.
Expatiating on the need for all stakeholders to take seriously the post Covid-19 recovery and survival of the citizenry and economy of the state, governor Uzodimma said a starting point of 500,000 jobs is inevitable and can be achieved if all hands are on deck.
“My esteemed Imo leaders, let me summarise the challenge I bring before you this way: The first is the urgent need to create 500,000 employments in the next three years. This we can achieve by the 300,000 skills acquisition empowerment scheme earlier proposed.
“With such number of people empowered for self employment, they will certainly employ others in the course of time. Also with agric loans to farmers and a more organised agric sector, over 100,000 jobs will be created in the sector.
“With Adapalm back on stream the public water supply sector set for a big time turn around and other state driven industry initiatives, the public sector is set to generate over 100,000 employments within the period in view,” Uzodimma said.
Accordingly, he has proposed the setting up of an Imo State post Covid-19 Economic Development Agency (ISEDA) which will be a platform for government officials and members of the Imo Economic Development Initiative to collaborate on how to place Imo on a sound economic footing post Cocid-19.
“Nothing can be more urgent than a thoughtful discuss on a post-Covid-19 Imo economy. This conference offers an auspicious opportunity for stakeholders to confront the grim economic reality of our generation. It also avails us the space to sufficiently provoke ourselves into finding solutions to the problems,” he said.
Governor Uzodimma said he believes that by working with eminent Imo stakeholders in the IEDI “we can leverage on available public and private funds for this purpose”.
“Already we have bought into the Central Bank of Nigeria agricultural and trade loans and graduate skills acquisition scheme. About 10,000 Imo youths are already in the queue for the facility.
“However, with an active employable population of over 2m people, a literacy level of over 75 percent and an unemployment rate of over 24 per cent, the figure I just mentioned above is still nothing to celebrate.
“I believe that a major task of this conference should be how to empower not less than 300,000 youth graduates in particular with different skills for self employment and create 500,000 jobs there from. This is the agenda I want to set for this conference.
“I believe that we can realise this through public private partnership (PPP) in sourcing for both public and private finance facilities to realise the objective,” he said.
The governor said the task of saving our generation from the looming threat of economic stagnation and possible collapse is one that we must accomplished.
Governor Uzodimma who regretted that Covid-19 has wreaked unthinkable havoc on the world said that “the world economy has practically collapsed” and that “right before us, gainful employments have continued to evaporate into thin air”.
The governor said health care architecture has been stretched to its wits end and has almost caved in, hunger looms as visibly as the shining sun in summer while food security has taken flight in the face an increasing Covid-induced massive decline in productivity.
“Yes, every craft and ingenuity that kept global economy safe and secure appear to be descending into an abyss of uncertainty, and the world watches in bewilderment and helplessness.
“Our dear country and state, Imo, are not spared from this frightening economic gloom. If anything, we are worst hit. With ever tumbling proceeds from crude oil sales, our national and state economy are not just endangered but clearly in a pillory. Herein lies the urgent challenge we face. Where do we go from here?
“With the Imo Economic Development Initiative (IEDI) I see a light at the end of the dark tunnel. With this group of prominent sons and daughters of Imo State interested in the development of the state, I see hope in a hopeless situation,” he said.