Remarks by Governor Hope Uzodimma at the virtual conference of Imo economic stakeholders on agenda for Imo State post-COVID-19 Recovery
This conference by the Imo Economic Development Initiative is timely and most cogent. I thank the chairman, Prof Maurice Iwu and the galaxy of Imo Intellectuals , Captains of industries and Renowned Entrepreneurs for putting together this conference.
Nothing can be more urgent than a thoughtful discuss on a post covid Imo economy. This conference offers an auspicious opportunity for stakeholders to confront the grim economic reality of our generation . It also avails us the space to sufficiently provoke ourselves into finding solutions to the problems.
The task of saving our generation from the looming threat of economic stagnation and possible collapse is one that we must accomplish
Covid 19 has wrecked unthinkable havoc on the world. The world economy has practically collapsed. Right before us, gainful employments have continued to evaporate into tin air.
Health care architecture has been stretched to its wits end and has almost caved in. Hunger looms as visibly as the shining sun in summer. Food security has taken flight in the face an increasing covid 19 induced massive decline in productivity.
Yes, every craft and ingenuity that kept global economy safe and secure appear to be descending into an abyss of uncertainty, and the world watches in bewilderment and helplessness.
Our dear country and state , Imo are not spared from this frightening economic gloom. If anything we are worst hit. With ever tumbling proceeds from crude oil sales our national and state economy are not just endangered but clearly in a pillory. Herein lies the urgent challenge we face. Where do we go from here?
With the Imo Economic Development Initiative (IEDI) I see a light at the end of the dark tunnel. With this group of prominent sons and daughters of Imo State interested in the development of the state, I see Hope in a hopeless sstiation .
Led by the Chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, its inspiring to note that IEDI membership is made up of key stakeholders in Imo State including captains of industry, eggheads from the academia, technocrats, globally renowned entrepreneurs, retired senior military and paramilitary personalities as well as other professionals of Imo origin.
Even more confidence boosting is the fact that participants at today 's session include Hon. Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; serial digital entrepreneur and Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh; Public Health Specialist and Senior Health Economist, Dr. Francis Ukwujie; renowned economist, banker, lawyer and Harvard-bred scholar, Dr. Emeka Osuji as well as serial entrepreneur and Managing Partner, Grand Central, Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, among many others.
Let me therefore assure all of us that under my watch as the governor of our dear Imo state no stone will be left unturned in ensuing that we secure our state for a post covid resilient economy that will create and sustain employments for our people. My three R vision of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Recovery is well positioned to achieve this goal, with your cooperation.
In this respect I propose to reposition the state economy as a business driven economy through the active participation of the private sector. We already have in place an Imo state investment Agency which will henceforth partner with IEDI to work out ways we can create sustainable employments for our people beyond covid 19.
The focus here should be to empower our people to thrive in small and medium scale enterprises in both artisan skills, trade and agriculture.
I believe that by working with eminent Imo stakeholders like you we can leverage on available public and private funds for this purpose. Already we have bought into the Central bank of Nigeria agricultural and trade loans and graduate skills acquisition scheme. About 10000( Ten thousand)Imo youths are already in the queue for the facility
However with an active employable population of over 2m people, a literacy level of over 75% and an unemployment rate of over 24% , the figure I just mentioned above is still nothing to celebrate.
I believe that a major task of this conference should be how to empower not less than 300,000 ( Three hundred thousand)youths graduates in particular with different skills for self employment and create500,000 ( Five hundred thousand)jobs therfrom. This is the agenda I want to set for this conference.
I believe that we can realise this through public private partnership in sourcing for both public and private finance facilities to realise the objective.
Further more, I need not emphasise the fact that a post covid self sustaining economy cannot do without a vibrant education sector. This informs our emphasis on quality, functional education at all levels. It also informs the establishment of a second university, the university of Agriculture and Environmental sciences, for the state. We are determined to make the two state universities one of the best in the world. Your cooperation in terms of funding and capacity building in these universities is also needed.
My esteemed Imo leaders, let me summarise the challenge I bring before you this way: The first is the urgent need to create 500000 employments in the next 3 years This we can achieve by the 300,000 skills acquisition empowerment scheme earlier proposed. With such number of people empowered for self employment, they will certainly employ others in the course of time. Also with Agric loans to farmers and a more organized agric sector, over 100,000 jobs will be created in the sector. With Adapalm back on stream the public water supply sector set for a big time turn around and other state driven industry initiatives, the public sector is set to generate over 100,000 employments within the period in view.
To achieve all these will require a synergy with the private sector. Permit me therefore to propose the setting up of an Imo state post covid 19 Economic Development Agency (ISEDA) ,which will be made up of members of the government and members of the Imo Economic Development Initiative.
Thank you very much and God bless all of us
Sen Hope Uzodimma
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