The government of Delta State, through agriculture, infrastructure development and creation of an enabling environment, has expanded employment opportunities for the people
From inception, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan promised to turn around the fortunes of the people of Delta State. For the governor, nothing is as good as putting smiles on the faces of the people. The reason is that when people are happy and contented, the state would be the better for it. And so, the administration took bold steps in expanding employment opportunities for the people of the state. Though there are many strategies adopted by the government, Uduaghan is wont to say that all the programmes and policies of the government are geared towards job creation and employment generation. The Delta beyond Oil economic strategy for instance, which is about creating an enabling environment for local and foreign investments, he says, is about creating jobs for the people.
Even before Uduaghan won the governorship seat in Delta State, he had it at the back of his mind to rekindle the pride of Deltans who he asserts “are proud people who would like to fish, and not be given fish”. The micro-credit programme of the state government is one of the deliberate poverty-alleviation strategies of the government. The micro-credit programme described by Chike Ogeah, Information Commissioner, as “the star programme of this administration”, is an empowerment scheme aimed at developing new generation of entrepreneurs. According to Ogeah, “what we did, we built up capacity in our micro-credit banks; we were able to give out loans to help set up businesses…so, what is happening is that a new class of people, even the physically challenged, people that could not walk but have one talent or another, or one skill or another, are being empowered and they are now employing people”.
A good example of this is what a group of hitherto unemployed graduates were able to do in fish farming at what is now popularly known as Camp 74 in Asaba. With the support of the micro-credit programme, the youths were able to develop their fishponds from just a few to about 500 presently. They drew inspiration from a similar one at Uvwie community established by a group of youths who were formerly involved in resource. Impressed by the effort of the youths, the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation which runs the programme, also assisted them with loans for expansion. Anthonia Ashiedu, Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation, recalled that “in August 2008 when we first intervened there, they had 2,000 fish ponds. Today, they have over 6,000 fish farms. Indeed, it created a lot of jobs for everyone around the vicinity”. Ashiedu said the government had put in over N3 billion in the programme “and there have been a lot of collateral advantages to it”.
One of them is the partnership between the state government and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO, on the establishment of a leather factory in Asaba, which has the potential of employing a lot of people. The government has also concluded plans to establish shoe-making village where many youths with the necessary skills can eke out a living.
Agriculture is also another sector the government is making huge investments in order to grow the economy of the state and create employment opportunities. According to Missan Ukubeyinje, Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, agriculture is a major factor because the essence of Delta Beyond Oil’s strategy is basically to invest revenue being earned from oil in other areas. “And one of the best areas to invest it is agriculture.” He was also quick to add that, “agriculture is the greatest employer of labour.” Citing example with the Uvwie fish farmers, he said about 3,000 farmers were involved, while in Camp 74, the farmers there numbered 74. So far, about 112,000 Deltans have been so empowered.
Ukubeyinje also noted that the administration of Uduaghan is currently adhering to the agriculture policy of the state, which was enshrined as one of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs. The policy aims at reducing poverty; to provide food for Deltans; to discourage rural-urban migration by rural integration; to provide raw materials for the industries by increasing food production; and to create jobs.
The government’s massive infrastructure development has also had its trickle-down effect on job creation. With the construction of roads, hospitals and schools, no doubt, both skilled and unskilled labourers are being engaged. Amin Maolouf, site engineer, CCC, a construction company, confirmed that majority of those engaged in the massive road construction projects in the state are locals both skilled and unskilled. With the road construction also comes more business opportunities. Hitherto, rural communities that were before now obscure have now been opened up.
A very clear example is what obtains in Abigborodo, a rural community in Warri North Local Government area of the state. Before now, access to the community was only through the waters, but since the construction of road into the community, many businesses have sprouted.
Similarly, the various massive housing constructions going on in the different areas of the state, especially in the capital, have thrown up employment opportunities for the people. Aside from those who are directly involved in the construction, others like artisans, food sellers, and their likes are also provided opportunities to eke a living.
The state government, by upgrading the transport system, has expanded business and employment opportunities in the state. With its provision of intra and inter-city buses of various capacities, many more of the indigenes are gainfully employed. Furthermore, the state government provided tricycles to many operators, first to help curb the menace of commercial motorcyclists, but more importantly to generate employment for those desirous of such business. In the estimation of Ben Igbakpa, Commissioner for Transport, in the area of employment opportunities, “we should be talking about over 3,000. And more will come because as soon as the BRT is on stream, we should be getting vendors, ticketing agents at every bus shelter, as well as ticket validators to go into the bus to check that people have tickets”.
One of the biggest projects of the state government is the Asaba International Airport, which is a state-of-the-art edifice. With the construction, many people have been engaged in one way or the other, starting from the different aviation agencies to other support staff. Those involved in other businesses such as restaurants, bookshops, cybercafé, transportation, and many more, are also enjoying the benefits. Austin Ayemidejor said about 1,500 persons have been directly employed at the airport while many more jobs have been created in the number of cab drivers and other support services.
In addition, Delta State is home to entertainment, with over 70 per cent of Nollywood films produced in Nigeria shot in the state capital, Asaba. This, to Richard Mofe-Damijo, ace actor and Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, translates to the fact that indigenes of the state are major beneficiaries. He said, “there’s no denying the fact of what has happened to the industry in terms of employment because people will tell you that outside of the oil industry and perhaps government, Nollywood employs one of the largest number because you can easily multiply the number of productions that happen in a month and an average of how many crew per production; and it gives you an idea what is going on, not to mention the number of people who sell the product, the number of people who replicate, the number of people who print the jacket and all that”.
Besides, more and more Deltans are also going into acting, thereby taking more and more youths off the streets as they develop new passions. Mofe-Damijo noted that, “there are people who do films in Itsekiri language and you already have films in Igbo. So, the thing is just evolving and… look at the Film and Broadcast Academy, FABA in Ozoro owned by the Ejiros and some other people”. He hinted that recently, the Consulate of the United States of America “came here and they are concentrating in doing some films about …Dawn in the Creeks. Jeta Amata is the creative consultant for that project that is being supported by the American embassy and they are concentrating in one area of Delta State producing movies. So, our successes in Delta are all due to the government’s efforts”.
Ogeah is excited about how entertainment has affected the image and economy of the state, especially given the big names in the industry that are from the state. In his words, “we have a factory for them and I think that would have informed part of why he got someone like Mofe-Damijo to come here and develop these talents” as part of the Delta Beyond Oil initiative of the Uduaghan administration.Follow Us on Social Media
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