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Imo Youths' Unemployment, the Need of Industrialists Come 2019

By Prince Stanley U Okoroji
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A 21st Century British industrial educationist, George Davies, had in 1993 urged the British government and all nations in the world to ensure contemporary drastic turns from academic society system to industrial society, in order to accommodate the teaming population of youths in the middle-class. He contends that for modern societies to ensure socio-economic advancement and stability, the major concern of the leaders should be particularly on the need to change the attitudes of its middle-class towards science, industry and technology, and what projects to employ in order to release considerable potentials of the talented but often underdeveloped ‘non-academic classes.’ This class in Nigeria and especially in Imo State has the youths in the greatest percentage.

Industrialisation, the condition marked by an increase in the importance of industry to an economy, which shows transition from agrarian society model to industrial society is all Imolites need come 2019, if the menace of unemployment is one of the most crucial targets of the guber candidates in the State.

An industrial society as envisioned is one in which technologies of mass production are used to make large amount of goods in factories, and which model of living dominates every other in the society. This for Ashley Crossman implies not only featuring mass production, but specific structures that support such operations must be ensured. The problem in Imo State today is the mass venting for white-collar jobs, especially government’s. Of a truth the Imo State government cannot employ all unemployed in the State (both the ready and forthcoming ones), but can create such structures through industrialisation strategies and entrepreneurial perspective planning.

Industrialisation creates booming business, which has salient roles to play in nation-building. That is why Sunil B. Mittal says that. “I see three distinct pillars sustaining any nation-building process: One, government, which also could be categorised as political leadership. Two, civil society, and three, business, the three work together to drive the process forward.”

For Imo State to thrive forward, industrialisation and the consequent business booming is the sole option. The history of the State shows that it takes an industrialist as guber candidate and thus as Governor to ensure this. Dr Sam Onunaka Mbakwe is a perfect example, and since after him, the civilian Governors in the State neglected this essential aspect of Imo wellbeing. It is difficult to enforce a non-industrialist seating Governor to invent “industry, industry, industry” or “factory, factory, factory” in the State. This is because the government alone cannot do it on its own. It needs public-private partnership, and above all, it fundamentally takes an industrialist to know best approaches to take.

The problem of youths unemployment in Imo State is that after Gov. Sam Mbakwe, who invested much in industrialising Imo State, proceeding Governors dropped his visions as anachronistic. They tend instead to the provision of services, which implies pre-existed generated wealth, and which is the function of the service sector. This consequently shows that the State leadership pilots a post-industrial society since after the Mbakwe era. On the contrary, Imo is not an academic society. It is not an agrarian society like Benue, Eboni, etc. It is not an industrial or commercial society like Lagos, Kano, Anambra, etc. It is not a civil service-dominated society like Niger. How can it purport post-industrial functioning?

Considering the phenomenon of under-employment and unemployment in the State, the plights of milliard Imolites walking daily along streets, the resourcefulness of idleness to crimes and criminality, the poor economic strength of the Nigerian society today, as well as sporadic surges of societal unrests, industrialists should be preeminent in parties’ choice of guber flag-bearers for the 2019 gubernatorial election in Imo State. They are at present the highest employers of labour in the State today.

Imo State had sufficient experienced industrialists in 2015 gubernatorial election, who came out in different parties for the primaries and gubernatorial election proper. Come 2019, many worthy candidates now emerge on weekly basis. The major concern of Imo youths, the teaming population in the State, is how the upcoming government would accommodate them, their plights, and sitz in leben (living conditions).

Certainly, almost all the major political parties in Imo (APC, PDP, APGA, UPP) have very much experienced industrialists aspiring for the guber primaries. In the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) for instance, there is Mr Frank Uzoawuotu Nneji (ABC Transport). He stands firm and high above every co-aspirant in the party. Frank Nneji is not only an entrepreneur and industrialist, but a well experienced transporter, who knows better routes and markets for goods and services. Besides his numerous business investments round the nation, which employs heavy labour, the ABC Transport alone has over a thousand workers round the country. What marvels he will do if he is the Governor of the State! The bizarre inter-states and internal transport model will be a game over.

The APC also has some experienced industrialists and entrepreneurs like Chima Anozie (Home Base). Barr Chima Anozie as an industrialist has several entrepreneurial establishments that gainfully employed over 400 Imolites in Imo State alone. If these private individuals could contribute to lessening the burden of unemployment in the State, if made Governor of the State, each will not only industrialise Imo, but will judiciously embark on public-private partnership, will provide enabling environments and basic amenities for investment, as well as draw foreign investors to the State, whose operations would both boom the State’s IGR and employment for the youths.

Of a truth, one’s socio-economic background and vision often influence his mission and core values in leadership. Certainly, industrialists like Home Base and ABC Transport, and some others in the contesting parties, cannot be Imo State Governor and the magnificent industries founded in the State during the 1979-1983 regime of Governor Sam Mbakwe go moribund. Where are the Poultry, Ceramics, Palms, Leather and Hides, Paints industries, etc, built by Mbakwe in the State? Who sells in the Mbakwe’s Owerri Modern Market? What of the Imo Newspaper and Hotels, how efficient are they today, and how many employees are working in them? Where is the Oguta Lake Motels and Gulf Course that was previously a high profile tourism centre and great aperture for IGR in State? Where are the government’s water transport systems put in place in Oguta LGA, how much do they produce today?

When in November 2013, Protus Uzorma and I were preparing to launch our book- Crime in Nigeria and the Role of the Police- CP Mohammed Musa Katsina as Role Model, I discovered that in Owerri Municipal Council alone, there were then over 180 police-recognised Hotels and entertainment centres in the city, which then made for 3 hotels per street in Owerri urban. It’s worst today as many more hotels, bush-bars, night clubs, Mbaris, event centres, and many other public gathering joints have increased. Perhaps today, it has reached up to 6 per street respectively.

Evidently, in Imo State, industries lack ominously. Private higher institution is a sort of industry in the academic sector, and Imo is the least in Nigeria. Pharmaceuticals are sort of industry in the health sector. Manufacturing companies are patchy and rarely found. What thrive in the State, especially in the capital city are hotels, fuel stations, caskets and mortuary centres, bush bars and sub-auto mechanic centres. Good roads and networks, systematically planned markets, well-structured transport and freight dispersion system are all nightmares in Imo today.

There are no developed centres for artisans, entrepreneurial skill acquisitions, factories, etc, as in Aba, Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi, Alaba (Lagos), Kano, etc. Anambra State for instance, has in its three senatorial zones, strong and diversified industrial and commercial holds for heavy IGR. These engage about 45% of unemployed youths in the State. What does Imo have- Hotels for easy-virtuous living and fuel stations? The Imo oligarchs, affluent and significant others have these as the only industrial vision in the State.

The above socio-economic situation needs a paradigmatic shift and this must begin with involving industrialists in electoral politics. Imo youths and party delegates must turn to this option if Imo must be better. The present State Governor promised Imo such, but was unable to carry his envisioned vision, for the sole reason of not being an industrialist, than not having the good will to do it. ‘Not-being,’ is a strong impediment to life-visioning. It takes an industrialist to rebuild Imo State, and each of the contesting political parties has one or two good industrialists that will transform Imo to the dreams of its foremost patriarch, Dee Sam Mbakwe. Imo youths no longer need political juggernauts but industrialists and entrepreneurs for governorship in the State.

Now we have the likes again in all the contesting parties. Let the political formations and party structures in the State remember that unemployment is the greatest cankerworm in Imo life today, and a deep sore in its security. They should remember that the sole solution to this is industrialisation. Of a truth, the likes of Home Base (APC), Frank Nneji- ABC Transport (APC) and their counterparts in other featuring parties have to be explored come 2019. This must be a manifesto if Imo must truly be better.