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Egwim and the agenda for job creation, economic growth ~ By Chidi Iheme

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Imo State today is, no doubt, facing a crisis of development. Unemployment is widespread, health prospects are getting poorer, industrialization has long been abandoned, and living standards for far too many have dwindled.

To positively address these challenges and place Imo in an eminent, enviable position as a prosperous state in Nigeria calls for synergy between the tiers of government in the state to fashion an economic development framework which would rev up the local economy, banish the wolf of unemployment and serve as a compass in navigating Imo from the perilous sea of a civil-service, allocation-dependent economy to the peaceful and prosperous shores of a self-reliant, sustainable and robust agro-techno-industrial economy.

 

Arthur Egwim

Currently on the floor of the Imo State House of Assembly, therefore, is a bill for a law to provide for the establishment of cottage industrial development in the twenty-seven local government areas of the state. The bill has reached the Committee Stage. It is sponsored by the member representing Ideato North State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Arthur Egwim. It is pertinent to quickly add that the energy, passion and commitment that Egwim has relentlessly brought to bear in issues which touch on the wellbeing of his people in Ideato and Imo state at large have been unparalleled. And this bold, audacious effort by Egwim through legislation to bind the monster of unemployment and economic backwardness in Imo and keep it permanently away from the state is one index of such commitment.

The catalytic roles of cottage industrial development have been displayed in many countries of the world such as Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Zambia, India and even Ghana. They contribute substantially to the Gross Domestic production (GDP), export earnings and employment opportunities of these countries. In Indian, for instance, cottage industries account chiefly for cotton weaving, silk weaving, carpet making, leather making, metal handicrafts and small food processing, and a vast majority of employments in that country are generated by these activities.

Many modern cottage industries in Imo will serve a market in Nigeria that seeks out original, handcrafted products as opposed to mass-produced, name brand products. These can include anything from clothing items to crafts to decorative home furnishings. While consumers appreciate having access to locally produced products, the local economy benefits from the money spent spent within. Ingredients and supplies purchased locally help the local economy as well.

This initiative, apart from productive income activities, it will alleviate poverty in Imo by lowering income disparities and allow people to take control of their lives and bring earnings into their community. Most importantly, the industries generate gainful non-agriculture based employment opportunities for teeming unemployed youths in the state. They can play a surprisingly large role in improving Imo’s economic standing. In addition to general poverty alleviation programs, developing cottage industries is a time-tested approach to diversify the economy away from rentierism and monocultural tendencies.

A deft implementation of this in Imo will further address insecurity and curb crime, because it will intervene and eliminate those factors that hamper security and breed crime. It is a soft security measure, given that when unemployment and extreme poverty are solved, the idea of criminality will take a nosedive. It is obviously cheaper to train people and engage them than to buy guns and build prisons. When people find a pathway out of poverty, they are not likely to resort to crime.

It is refreshingly inspiring that there is a parliamentarian in Imo state like Arthur Egwim who understands the needs of the people and has consequently deployed the instrumentality of the legislature to get these needs addressed. The prospects of Imo becoming a land of limitless opportunities are now better assured.


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