Unemployment in Delta State is becoming abnormally high. This is in spite of the fact that Delta State is one of the richest states in the country in terms of the revenue it receives from the federation account. This has probably led to increase in crime.
Recently, during the workers’ day celebration, the state leadership of Nigerian Labour Congress accused the civil service of collecting six hundred thousand naira (N600, 000) from applicants before they can secure employment. The State Governor has vowed to investigate this and assured that anyone found guilty will be dealt with. We hope that this avowal will not be mellowed by party intrigues as it was with a similar promise made by the governor on DESOPADEC some years ago.
First, it is surprising that the governor heard of this rumour only during the May Day celebration. This is a rumour that has spread all over the state and appeared consistent with the opportunistic hustle for employment in Delta State where those who do not need the jobs are offered jobs in the first instance by allocation according to hierarchical political importance rumoured to begin with the governor’s interest. It was not hidden. In his attempt at defending his employment record, the governor said that the state wanted to employ only two hundred and fifty workers but had to raise it to one thousand. Only one thousand to be employed from a sea of hundreds of thousands of unemployed youths – any wonder why criminal activities have gone up in the state?
Where will the newly employed get such huge sum to pay for the alleged bribe demanded by the state or its agents? How many unemployed can afford to pay such stupendous sum? Does it not show that only the relations of those bleeding the state dry are the ones who would afford this? In a state where minimum wage is little above eighteen thousand Naira (N18, 000), how many years will it take these newly employed to recoup their investment? If such money has been borrowed, how many years will it take them to pay back? What moral lessons are we teaching these newly employed? Are we not telling them that corruption pays? Are we not telling them that once they are employed, they should look for all available means to recoup what they have invested? Are we not telling them that the process of getting money does not matter but that the end justifies the means? Is Delta State now Delta State Corruption Limited? Has the DTHA become so spineless or they secured their own quota in the allocation of the jobs that were eventually traded to the hapless applicants who have received their authoritative baptism of corruption?
Setting up an investigating team is not a wrong move but the governor should first and foremost accept full responsibility for this alleged offence by his subordinates. The buck stops at the governor’s table. If a very transparent process has been put in place, this embarrassment wouldn’t have occurred. That the governor can boldly say that he employed one thousand workers goes to show that the state has no plans of reducing unemployment menace in the state. When states like Osun and Oyo are employing twenty thousand workers each, Delta State is employing one thousand and in a controversial manner too. Government and government policies drive the economy. We agree that government cannot employ all but government policies can help in creating that employment. So far, we have not seen the policies that will create employment in Delta the state. All we see are inflated contracts and abandoned projects and drain pipes such as theN7.4billion meant to demolish hills at Asaba Airport. These will not create employment.
Let the government honestly and holistically reduce drastically the crime rate in the state. If this is done, investors will troop into the state to invest. Delta State is still a virgin land waiting to be explored and developed. Opportunities abound in the state. Once kidnappings, armed robberies and political crimes are reduced to the barest minimum by using a sociological approach that taked most of the criminally inclined off the street, then Delta State will be a haven for investors. These investments will create employment opportunities and jobs.
Energy must be provided to run homes and industries. Once energy is constant, cottage, small and medium industries will begin to grow and in the process reduce unemployment. Delta State has an advantage over many states in the country. It is blessed with gas. This can be utilized in generating power that can even be sold to other states. The gas being flared in Ebedei, Orogun and other numerous communities could be channeled into making Delta State the power state of the country. We are not referring to the haphazard and insincere job at Oghara power project. These power projects will be able to employ thousands of Deltan youths.
In the short term, agriculture is another major sector that can reduce unemployment in the state. Agriculture is the greatest employer in the country. Unfortunately, the Delta State government has not done enough in this sector. The only thing it claims to have done is joint venture between the state and Obasanjo Farms for which a curious sum of over N2 billion was paid to Obasanjo Farms a few years ago. This cannot employ more than a hundred workers. Youths want investments that can yield dividends, more jobs and quickly too. They have not got the patience for long term investments hence most of them shun agriculture. Vegetables and tomatoes are quarterly farm products. Within months, anybody farming these will begin to make returns. Our soil is good enough for these products. Who says that Delta State cannot supply the South South need for vegetables, pepper and tomatoes. Our dependence on the north will be reduced. From Umunede to Ogwashi Uku to Jesse and all over the state; the land is there to grow these crops. The youths will gladly embrace this because of the quick dividends. It is only when they have started reaping the fruits that some of them may now venture into other areas of agriculture. All government need do is to provide improved seedlings, fertilizer education and an enabling policy and programme.
Tourism is another source of major employment in the state. Tourism can only thrive if there is peace and security, good roads and a well developed infrastructure and hospitality sector. Countries such as Kenya, Senegal and Uganda have tourism as their major source of revenue. Delta State can develop her tourism sector to be at par with Cross River. Again, sincerity of purpose is needed. The Udu tourism centre that is being planned is a welcome development but the true financiers have to be made known since it has since emerged that the foreign partners have not got the wherewithal to embark on such a gigantic project.
The illogically of asphalting the divide of the Express Road from Effurun Round About along the DSC Expressway to Oleri and casing the edge of a road that was not constructed by the Delta State Government at a price that cannot be anything but provocative resonates of the kind of planlessness and waste that that the Asaba Airport symbolizes.
Let the Delta State government revive all ailing and dead industries in the state. These industries can yield revenue for the state and also create employment. Beta Glass Company is functioning and making profit while Delta Glass directly opposite it is dead. Why is there no partnership with serious private sector investors to restore Delta Glass Factory, the idle Gold mine that is wasting away, that uses the same principal raw material with Beta Glass Limited just opposite it?
While government is embarking on its investigation of the said employment bribery scandal, it must be said that the Uduaghan administration has not scored a pass mark in employment creation in the state. It also shows the rot in the system in the state.
In the words of M. Ahweyevu Mukoro Esq, Director General of Delta Rescue Mission (DRM), in a recent press conference, “the unemployment situation in Delta State is alarming and unacceptable. If not urgently tackled, we may have a crisis in our hands which may prove difficult to handle. Government should make judicious use of the people’s wealth to do the best for the majority of the people and not the few that have turned the state’s asset to their personal gold mine. A situation where the budget for Government House and Governor’s Office is more than that of four ministries in the last in the last four years can never create employment”
Delta Rescue Mission