• Friday, May 24, 2024
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Akwa Ibom tackles youth unemployment by setting up manufacturing companies

Akwa Ibom tackles youth unemployment by setting up manufacturing companies

Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Akan Okon has explained how the challenge of unemployment among youths is being addressed saying one of the ways is the establishment of manufacturing companies and firms in partnership with the private sector.

In an interview in Uyo, the state capital, Okon, a one-time Commissioner for Finance in the state acknowledged that though unemployment was a major challenge not only in the state, he said concrete steps were being taken to provide jobs through the creation of employment opportunities in companies being set up in the state.

“Unemployment is a major problem in the country because we are a consuming economy, we are not manufacturing. But under the leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel, prior to coming to office, we did not have many companies here. In the last five years, many firms and companies have been set up. These companies are offering employment to Akwa Ibom people,’’ he said.

READ ALSO: More knocks trail Akwa Ibom’s poor unemployment ranking

The commissioner who listed some of the factories as the syringe manufacturing firm reputed to be one of the largest on the continent, the metering solution firm, plastic manufacturing company and the coconut refinery company among others said Governor Udom Emmanuel in addition to the establishment of the firms has created an enabling environment for the growth of the private sector in the state.

Okon whose ministry is in charge of the Ibom Deep Seaport also pointed out that hundreds of youths not only from Akwa Ibom but other parts of the country would be gainfully engaged when the deep seaport is completed saying that several steps have been taken in partnership with the federal government to ensure its actualization.

“The Deep Seaport will provide enormous employment opportunities for our youths. A few hours ago, the association of dredgers paid me visited my office which was in respect of the Ibom Deep Seaport project. The level of employment opportunities that the deep seaport can provide to any economy is huge and our Deep Seaport is not a standalone project.

“It comes with an industrial city with heavy industries involved in export activities.  This will add to the employment opportunities that will be available to our people.  Things are gradually picking up. The port is in phases but I am very certain that at the rate we are going now, before the end of the present administration, we should have achieved a lot,” he said.

The commissioner who acknowledged the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the state’s economy as it affected both demand and supply side of economic activity, he said the state government has taken far-reaching decisions to cushion its impact adding that granting of tax relief to small business operators was one of such decisions.

“Akwa Ibom State being part of the world environment is also affected by the pandemic.  But you know the true test of a leader on what he does in the time of challenges. You can see what the  Governor has done during this period which shows that he has taken a decision which would stand the test of time.

“When others were busy putting up makeshift facilities as isolation centres, the Governor decided to put up a permanent structure which would be used for other medical services when the pandemic is over. It takes somebody with a vision to do what he is doing.

According to him, while some airlines around the world are cutting jobs, during the same period, “our own airline received an additional aircraft; this is a testimony to the managerial ability of the Governor, the state is equally affected by the pandemic with our major revenue source is from crude oil and the oil revenue has been significantly affected by the pandemic, it has reduced the revenue that is coming to the government.

Okon who also allayed fears about the ability of the state government to manage an airline following the floating of Ibom Air said it makes economic sense for the state government to lead the way in setting up the airline adding that with new aircraft being added to its fleet, the airline with its excellent customer services is bound to succeed.

“The aircraft in its fleet are quite new, perhaps the youngest fleet in the industry for now with all the latest technology. With the business structure, the airline would come to be a success story.  Yes, people may say that it is not the business of government to be engaged in certain businesses but in such circumstances, the government can lead the way. The airline has become the first choice among air travelers in the country.”

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