By Tom Moses
With an estimated N13 billion monthly allocation from the federation account , Akwa-Ibom State is unarguably one of the richest and most endowed states in Nigeria.
But this wealthy status has not translated into prosperity for people of the state, as most wallow in poverty. The 2006 National Population Census had pegged the population of the state at 3, 902, 051, even though the elite maintain that the population is about five million. Of this figure, only a paltry 55, 000 people are employed by the state government, while the federal government employs 4,000 people. Others are in the private sector.
Peacock paint industry
The implication is that a larger percentage is either unemployed or under-employed.
Worried by the level of unemployment, the Chairman of Etinan Local Council Area, Mr. Kenneth Okon penultimate week, drew the attention of Governor Udom Emmanuel to the problem which according to him is becoming a burden.
He therefore implored the governor to revive the Ikot Ekan Peacock Paint Industry within his first 100 years in office to boost job creation efforts.
The appeal was made when Emmanuel visited Etinan to assess the state of the moribund paint industry with a view to revitalizing it.
It was also part of his efforts at establishing other industries in line with his campaign promises.
Okon said: ‘’I am appealing to the governor to come to the aid of the teeming unemployed youths in this local government and revitalize the Peacock Paint Industry within his first 100 days in office as all the equipment and facilities to make it work are functional. This will boost employment generation for the unemployed persons in this area.”
An unemployed youth leader in the area, Mr. Ndifreke Etukudoh, also urged the governor to make bold his promise not only to revitalize the paint industry but to also attract other investments to the state.
Etukudoh said that criminal activities in the state which were bolstered by unemployment would reduce drastically when the characters behind those vices would have been engaged in those industries.
Speaking at the event, Governor Emmanuel recalled that the Peacock Paint was a reliable brand in Nigeria because of its high quality, noting that the company would be revived.
He said: “I am happy with what I am seeing today. All hopes are not lost. We can actually pick up what we have today and build up a brand that will go round the whole country. The technical team will come and see how we can turn around the fortunes of this place. The legal issues will be handed over to the Ministry of Justice to advice government in this regard. What I have seen today gives us hope that we can still pick up and build based on where we are as a country.
To ensure that an industrialised Akwa Ibom would not lead to traffic gridlock in the state,
Governor Emmanuel ordered the re-designing of Uyo capital city. The governor also set up technical committees with the mandate to look into means of applying mechanized approaches to agriculture to boost food supply and sufficiency and to attract foreign investments to the state.
Disclosing this to Vanguard, Special Adviser, Media to the governor, Mr. Ekerete Udoh, said that in a matter of weeks, there would be actions on job creation.
“If you look at some of the western countries, most of the millionaires are those who are into agriculture and allied industries. It is the opinion of the governor that we put a machinery at work to ensure that we tap into the enormous potentials that exist in that sector of the economy, “ Udoh said.
He also averred that industrialization is of importance to Governor Emmanuel as reflected by the number of technical committees he has set-up and the resultant upsurge in the number of foreign investors visiting the state.
“Governor Emmanuel is desperate to make the state an Eldorado not just in aesthetical value but also in provoking industrial revolution for unprecedented economic independence of the state with the prospect of employment generation for all categories of the unemployed,”Udoh added.
The governor, he said, had toured the existing functional industries to assess their levels of workability and to also identify latent challenges holding them down.
The industries include; Peacock Paint Industry located in Ikot Ekan, Etinan Local Government Area, the Biscuit Industry, Sunshine Batteries and the Plasto-Crown Industry.
He said the governor is conviced that when the industries are rehabilitated, thousands of jobs would be created for the teeming unemployed youths, who are currently relying on politics as the only alternative means of survival.
Aside from the ailing industries, Udoh expressed the governor’s commitment to realizing the dreams of the Ibom Deep Seaport as soon as possible.
In this light, the state government recently constituted a 10-man technical committee to see to the realization of the project with Mrs. Mfon Usoro, a-one time Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), as chairman.