This Essay was Submitted by Eze Ebuka Harrison
Great people of Enugu State, I stand on this day to declare publicly my profound intentions for the land on the hills; a land rich in arable soil and favourable climate, known for its coal, cultural uniqueness and traditional dishes. Moreover, we are faced with arduous challenges affecting the socioivities in the State. However, this current dire strait requires urgent attention. Our youths are faced with an unemployment crisis, small scale businesses struggle to survive, agriculture is not seen as a formal business in our land, human capacity building low, and economic zones are not even within the seventeen Local Government Areas (LGA)1 According to the 2006 census, there are 722,664 people in Enugu. In addition to this, the National Bureau of Statistics (2015), averred that the population growth rate in Nigeria is 3.28 per cent per annum and the fertility rate is estimated to be 5.4 births per woman. Needless to say, our population has increased exponentially. This has contributed to the large streams of young people entering the labour market annually. Yet the rate of unemployment is skyrocketing and much of the crimes in Enugu is attributed to unemployment.
To address this deadly backdrop, I shall industrialize the State. Through the establishment of economic zones in key strategic areas for businesses and industries to thrive sustainably. We have seventeen Local Government Areas; I will ensure that there are even distributions of economic activities in each Area: Enugu North, East and South. This will foster job creation and youth empowerment while large, vibrant industries will absorb the vast number of youths entering the labour market annually.
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are the engines for economic growth in Enugu State. Furthermore, Anthony (2013), highlights that SMEs employ 87.9 per cent of the workers in the informal sector. Therefore, I shall set up a favourable environment for the SMEs to thrive effectively. Ease access to credit facilities, free mentorships and training resources will be issued to all small-scale business owners.
Grants and start-up capital will be disbursed to all business owners, particularly the youths. I shall compound efforts with other stakeholders to ensure that human capacity building takes the lead in Enugu State. However, it will reinforce regional, national, and even continental competitiveness. as healthy competition help make the community a better place; improving workers health care, providing incentives and promoting overall protection of workers and staff. Seemingly, agriculture is not recognized as a formal business in Enugu State; most farmers think agriculture is not a business. Perhaps, many students think agriculture is only for old people or the uneducated. This mindset is irrational and logically unjustifiable. Agriculture is a business.
Therefore, to address this inapt occurrence, favourable policies that promote agricultural activities must be implemented in all metropolitan areas. All Enugu State farmers will register their business with ease. Incentives and funds will be allotted to farmers to expand their business. Consistently, farmers will be entitled to free mentorships on how to prepare a business plan that will attract investors and ease access to credit facilities. Also, across all social media platforms, students and youths will be encouraged to engage in agriculture. Therefore, the large portion of unused arable land will be utilized.
The National Bureau of Statistics (2018), affirms that women constitute 49.5 per cent of over 183 million people in Nigeria. And Enugu State is not unique in this situation. Moreover, women suffer a 6.3 per cent unemployment rate higher than that for men. This statistical data emphasizes the need for gender equality in Enugu State. Otherwise, females would suffer more risk in contributing to regional growth and development.
I shall partner with the Local Government Councils and other community leaders in ensuring more female participation in education and vocational training. Girls are more vulnerable to social exclusion than boys; however, to change this narrative, vocational skill development programmes mandated to empower the young people of Enugu will be implemented. But more emphasis will be on incorporating the female in the skill acquisition programmes. No region can survive without health care. Quality health care services are essential for the sustenance of our people. Nonetheless, many of the hospitals in Enugu are privately run. These hospitals are often beyond the reach of the poor masses. Some people have to travel to the capital city, Enugu, for standard health care service. Therefore, standard primary health care services will be extended in all rural communities. Cutting down the cost of transportation and also save time.
In addition to this, health care equipment and facilities shall be upgraded. Physicians, doctors and health officials shall undergo annual training to reinforce their technical know-how. The health of every individual is paramount for the development of Enugu State and Nigeria in general. Within my political jurisdiction, these shall be my area of interest for the good of the land: human capacity building for self-reliant citizens through an enabling environment for sustainable growth and development to thrive. And as rightly expressed by Rt. Hon. Ugwuanyi Ifeanyi (Gburu-gburu), “Enugu State is in the Hands of God.” Therefore, the key to appointing the right leader rest in your onus.