By Madonna Nwani
The Ebonyi State Commissioner for Human Capital Development, Dr. Stephen Odo had advocated a radical approach to address the spate of unemployment in the state.
Speaking in a capacity building workshop at Peoples Club in Abakaliki last week, Dr. Odo opined that a direct negotiation and mediation by the state on behalf of the citizens will shore up the employability of Ebonyians in the labour market. According to him, the efforts at human capital development must be conscious and deliberate.
He said, “If both throughout the whole federation, let’s say in the oil sector for instance, can we find an Ebonyian at the very top level in the oil industry! Can we say in the banking industry that we can find Ebonyi man that is a board member in any bank?”
“The banks are taking our money. The state is investing so much these days in banks. We must negotiate with them. We can’t be keeping our state’s money in your bank and other people will be managing it. We must be part of it. If you are not ready to give us that chance, we take our money to other banks.” he said
Dr. Odo revealed that his office has already written to the federal character commission to know where Ebonyians are shortchanged in federal agency employment schemes.
“Each federal agency must give us space because there is a law that makes it mandatory for proper representation of all state.”
To achieve this, the commissioner announced a commencement of collation of the workforce database for the state.
“We want to document all the fields. We want to register the unemployed and all employed in Ebonyi State. We want to be sure that every Ebonyian that has the certificate will come to the ministry to register it.
We want to see your capacity; we want to see your qualification. We want to see your skills. If you don’t have the skill, we want to see your intended skill. If we go to UBEB for instance and they are asking for a carpenter, we go to the database and say in local government A, B, or C, we can find this kind of carpenter, Dr. Odo averred.
He equally hinted of a partnering initiative with the States Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), whereby, the massive infrastructural development at state school which commences this October, that all the manpower requirements are sourced from/among Ebonyi citizens.
“We want to be sure that it is only Ebonyians that are used in every stage of the work. We are copying the ministry of work, the Ministry of Infrastructure. We want to make sure that whatever work that is going on, it is only the ones that Ebonyians cannot do that we go to Enugu or Lagos to bring people.”
“There is no magic to development. It must be conscious and deliberate. We must use our people. We must increase wealth. We cannot be talking of unemployment and our people are denied our job.”
Dr. Odo also said his ministry is engaging the small And Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) to conduct free entrepreneurship development training for citizens in the state soon.
“There is need for mentorship. There is need for guidance and we need to provide that guidance.”
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