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More knocks trail Akwa Ibom’s poor unemployment ranking

Condemnation has continued to trail the recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which ranked  Akwa Ibom state as the second-highest in terms of unemployment.

Though this has been rejected by the state government saying the report was faulty, many have continued to accuse the state government of not abandoning projects that could have provided jobs for the teeming youths.

However, Gabriel Umoh, a Professor of Agricultural and Development Economics at the University of Uyo (UNIUYO) notes that “the private sector has become disconnected from government to the point where only hotels and recreational centres are owned by politicians in government thrive”.

“Akwa Ibom has no strong private sector to complement government’s policies and programmes”, he said.

He said unemployment would continue to be a recurring issue if the private sector is not strengthened to create more jobs.

In the same vein, Ekpenyong Bassey, a community leader has  accused politicians of allegedly stealing money to erect palatial houses which he said ended not being occupied

“In highbrow areas of Uyo, especially Ewet Housing, Osongama, and Shelter Afrique, you cannot count a number of palatial and imposing buildings built by politicians.

“Most of these homes are now lying fallow with only security guards keeping vigil, while their owners live in other mansions elsewhere in Abuja, Lagos and abroad.

“If these monies used in erecting such marvelous structures were invested in businesses especially housing, cottage industries, oil and gas and export, and import businesses, the government would only have the burden of creating the right environment for businesses to thrive”, he said.

Similarly, Saviour Akpan, Executive Director-in charge of COMPART foundation for equity, peace, and justice, Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) says the state government has not been able to build on the foundation laid by previous administration’s to boost employment.

“If you check out abandoned projects of the Obong Victor Attah and Godswill Akpabio, you would discover that if such projects like the Ibom Science Park, the Ibom Tropicana, and other mega projects were to be completed, a lot of unemployed youths would have been taken off the streets”, he noted.

According to checks, the Ibom Tropicana was initiated by former Governor Godswill Akpabio in 2008 and was expected to create over 5,000 jobs, but such a dream could not be realized as the project was abandoned by the present administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel.

The project which had an initial cost of N33 billion was later revalued to the tune of N120billion, according to sources.

Another major project which observers say could have provided job opportunities was the  Ibom Science Park initiated by former Governor Obong Victor  Attah (1999-2007), and contracted to a South African firm, SBT JUUL, to the tune of over $5billion  which had been re-awarded to a Chinese firm and renamed Ibom Blue Sea, Science Park.

But hopes that the project, when completed would generate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) – related jobs, have again been dashed as the Chinese contractors could not return to the site because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

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