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Why are nearly a million young, healthy persons in Imo State unemployed? Why has quality infrastructure eluded Imo people? Why is the healthcare system in the State in a shambles? Why has poverty become almost endemic in an entity as richly endowed as Imo? Why has education taken a nosedive in our State? Why can’t our arable land yield bountifully again? The answer to all these lies in the failure of governance in Imo State. Then, what can we do to arrest this poor governance? A rebirth is the answer, and the SDP Governorship Candidate, Sir Okey Ezeh has formulated a comprehensive economic blueprint known as the Imo Marshal Plan (I-MAP) to midwife the rebirth yearned for.
It is not all hopelessness. We now have a great opportunity to build the Imo of our dreams. We have a lot of human and natural resources that can help us reinvent our State.
The affliction of Imo shall be turned into affluence, as Okey Ezeh intends to permanently keep the unemployment wolf out of Imo State by making simple investments in the production of particle board. Sawdust and woodshavings are the main raw materials required for the production of particle board. It involves mixing sawdust and woodshavings with resins and running it through a hotpress. This is the main input for 80% of global office and hotel furniture. Yet, at the Timber Dealers, Saw Millers and Allied Business Market at Naze traders are charged for collection of sawdust and wood shavings which are gathered into a landfill and burnt! What an irony! This initiative alone can create over two hundred thousand direct jobs for our young people.
The I-MAP will vigorously pursue the up-skilling and building of human capacity and improvement of all aspects of financing and access to finance by SMEs through deliberative actions and interventions. A key priority will be to unleash the energy of the entrepreneurial spirit of Imo people who are known to be great innovators.
Agriculture will be revolutionized by training young school leavers as ‘agripreneurs’ to take advantage of any aspect of the agricultural value chain, setting up processing facilities, tractors, in-farm housing units in each of the three senatorial districts and creation of special unit for packaging for export in order to earn foreign exchange.
The LGA structure in Imo State as presently constituted is not accountable as it is structured for rent-collection. The culture of transition in perpetuity must be discarded for the State to make progress and alleviate the pains of the grassroots. A properly constituted LGA structure is one that is elected through the ballot. Once people have to face the electorate, they become mindful of scorecards to brandish.
A reformed state administration as conceptualized in the I-MAP will energize the LGA structure and create performance metrics that will guide operators of the system and revolutionize development in the remotest of our communities
Imo shall establish Forest Reserves and re-introduce Forest Guards to control logging and tree felling activities. Urban renewal will be redefined from the current concrete jungle mindset to the more environmentally-friendly tree-lined boulevard concept, more aesthetically pleasing and far less expensive.
Imo can create jobs through State Capitalism which means that the state acts as an investor by creating new State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) that operate according to private sector mechanisms, and are based on sound business plans and are entirely independent of government.
The State’s infrastructural challenge can be used to create jobs by engaging 100% homegrown talents from among the pool of unemployed graduates and artisans. Imo will reticulate her capital within her own territory and at the same time engage local skills and in the process build long-term capacity.
Imo is not beyond salvation. We have another opportunity to reinvent the State and harness our vast natural and human resources for the benefit of all. We desperately need a leader that will run a transparent, accountable and value-for-money administration with zero tolerance for corruption, ineptitude and cronyism. This alone will free up huge resources that will be applied to harnessing our virtually limitless potentials. This is why Okey Ezeh is an idea whose time has come! Umunnem, Okey Biara Ndozi!
“Imo can create jobs through State Capitalism which means that the state acts as an investor by creating new State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) that operate according to private sector mechanisms, and are based on sound business plans and are entirely independent of government”