Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, has said the current security challenges in the country could be linked to poverty and unemployment.
Amaechi disclosed this when the Senate Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation paid him a courtesy visit at Government House in Port Harcourt shortly after a facility tour of federal government-owned parastatals and agencies in the state.
He explained that his administration started creating employment opportunities when he assumed office in 2007 by building over 140 primary health centres and over 300 model primary schools which created job opportunities in the state.
According to him, “The current problem we are having in Nigeria today is tied to poverty and unemployment. I believe that one solution to this insurgency is education and jobs. The easiest employment is farming, because, a large number of them are not educated and unskilled. I applied it here in the state and it worked.
“Most of them who were given guns by the ex-militants told us that their parents could not carter for their education which is why we introduced free education and free healthcare programmes.
“And it occurred to us that to address this problem, we need social policing, and while you are doing physical policing, you must also do social and economic policing. And to do that, we started creating employment opportunities by building over 140 primary healthcare centres and over 300 model primary schools. If you visit these projects, there is no way you will not see up to at least 50 workers in each of the schools.”
Amaechi further said: “We created the Banana farms that have created jobs for over 2,000 persons, we revived the Risonpalm, which was dead when we came to power, and it has employed over 5,000 workers.
“Also, the Songhai Farm has employed over 2,000 workers, while five fish farms in strategic locations have been completed. We have done all that to create employment opportunities for our people.
I am very sure that the establishment of farms will go a long way to reduce the recruitment of Boko Haram members. The federal government must therefore take education, employment and reduction of poverty as priority. We do appreciate the challenges the federal government is facing now.”
The governor however said his administration was perfecting measures to ensure 24 hours regular power supply in the state and expressed dismay over the inability of the federal government to pay what is due to the state government on its investment to improve power supply in the state.
Amaechi further called on investors in the state to improve in their investment potentials and seek ways of creating more job opportunities for job seekers.
On his part, the Chairman, Senate committee, Senator Olugbenga Obadara, said they were in the state to inspect the ongoing activities in the privatisation sector of the federal government, access the retrenchment of workers in the labour market and seek ways of bridging the gap.
“When private investors buy these companies from government, you will find out that in no distance time people working in those companies are returned to the labour market unemployed. The consequence is part of the outcome of restiveness. We have been to Indorama Petro-chemicals, Eleme where the state has 10 per cent. In all of these, what we decided not to do is to seat at Abuja and call the government agencies to come and show us papers that are not easily verifiable. As a responsible committee and engine room of government, we want to make sure we interact with them. We want to know their challenges, the agreement they signed and their financial responsibilities,” Obadara said.