Poverty And Unemployment In Akwa Ibom State: The Case For Data Driven Policy

By Clayton Udoh
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Do The Math –President Barack Obama “44th President of the United States.

I would advise that this write up is for the thinker: a person ready to delve into certain levels of dialogue. Not for the caustic brown noser that must maintain the status quo for his daily bread. For it is no more logical for certain aspects of the future of Akwa Abasi Ibom State to be argued on the table of political zealousness. Rather we should be able to agree that there are factors that act as a prelude to the prevailing poverty in our society. We pause to examine one word that resonates like the cruel wind on our bones; Unemployment.

My intro then begs the question,”Has the true conditions of Unemployment become buried in a morass of unavailable or inaccessible data which comprises of slowly decaying paper and wilting manila folders?”

Firstly, I tender as my personal opinion that Akwa Abasi Ibom State cannot operate in the era of manila folders anymore. Folders filled with “official pages” with “duplicates” too old to be discerned by the human eye as smudges of carbon paper. The unreadable Triplicate! The Prehistoric!

The limitations of this prehistoric system, that we inherited from our Colonial masters is now apparent on how far we can go as a people. Strange enough our Colonial Masters do not use this as the mainstay of their information recording/storage systems anymore.

Yes the data we have in our system today is based on the durability of the paper it was printed on. “Records”that are subjected to pressure (files piling on files), temperature (changes of the dry and wet season) humidity and all other factors that lead to the wear and tear of the environment at large.

Our storage system of information creates an impenetrable “static” in which trends and patterns in data is lost in dank, musty, dusty “record offices”.

Why Data? The power of the modern world is Data. Data provides answers to questions that must be answered to drive policy. How many people are unemployed? How many people get employed monthly (An indicator of the strength of the economy)? How many people lost their jobs monthly (An indicator of a dwindling economy)? What is causing the spike in job lost and how can we stem the tide? How many people who are unemployed graduated in the last 10 years, 5 years, 3 years, 2 years? How many of the employed are women beneath the age of 40 that are liberal art majors that graduated between 2010 to 2014? How many of the unemployed are women in the Tech sector from out of state? How many of the unemployed are men who graduated in the Medical sciences but are now pursuing an MBA that are from Eket Senatorial district? There are millions of questions that can be answered when data is stored accurately at the push of a button.

Without such granular data, how do you drive policy? This is far beyond a politician cleaning his mouth after eating his fufu and screaming that he or she will build 31 industries!

Which industries do you bring in if you do not know the nature of your unemployed?

The modern world with a distinct thunderclap is hammering down the science of Information Technology by using Data Warehousing with efficiency. In the modern industry, this leads to Data Mining. Data accumulated over a period of time begins to expose trends and patterns that show that the society is organic in nature (Can respond to stimuli or the lack of it thereof). This data can be “mined” that leads to societies even creating forecast for themselves and predicting events based on trends observed.

Why do we think that the NSA went to such pains to acquire data that far superseded its bounds as exposed by Edward Snowden?

The importance of Facebook is not its one billion users but the fact that as a data mining site, it is studying the behavior of one billion people and creating algorithms that predict everything from our eating habits to market strategies directed on the society. Same goes for Google and other sites that create profiles of us based on our use of their utilities.

So the big question remains how many people are unemployed in Akwa Abasi Ibom State? How do we define employment?

In the United States the debate has begun that the living wage should be moved from $7.25 an hour to $10.25 an hour. Based on Naira's exchange rate would it be correct for us to say that the average living wage of a worker in Akwa Abasi Ibom State should be from 2,429,000-----3,434,097 Naira yearly? This would be for the person sweeping the airport terminal, then how much more for the graduate from Akwa Abasi Ibom State?

If not so, is there a debate on this to determine what kind of industries, will pay the youth what they truly deserve?

On the other hand, would we rather say that our youth deserve the little fleeting micro-finance projects they did that transformed them into de facto brick layers and construction men/women for a few days of their lifetime?

Studies have shown that the cold grip of poverty is slowly but surely loosened across generations by a constant frequency of quality work and careers in one's life that leads to the accumulation of assets for generations to come. Little Micro-finance jobs (flash-in-the-pan money) could be actually counter-productive to the true acquisition of wealth!

It is a distraction to believe that the development of Akwa Abasi Ibom State will be dependent on infrastructure. Afterall the beauty of infrastructure is that it must serve the greater good of the populace and not the privileged few. However how can infrastructure be effective, as a resource, when created without logistics and how efficiently will it serve the populace?

We need a leader that has true compassion for the youth of Akwa Abasi Ibom State. A leader, who actually realizes that the global standard, for a thriving economy is not its infrastructure but the quality of life of its citizenry.

Clayton "Bane" Udoh, Mesa, Arizona

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