Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has advised youths to focus on skills acquisition as the mainstay of their economic and social well-being.
Ikpeazu also urged them to avoid wasting their talents riding commercial tricycles and motorcycles.
The governor gave the advice while speaking with officials of the N-Power that visited some of the tailors sewing kits for N-Build volunteers as well as the Skills acquisition centre in Aba to assess the progress of the job and training of the volunteers.
“We want to ask our people to focus on skills because God is not a frivolous God; whatever he gives, it must be for a purpose.
“You cannot abandon your skill and begin to do something else.
“The Federal Government in collaboration with state government is creating opportunities.
“It is no longer sloganeering (but) creating opportunities for you to become the best you can in whatever thing that you are doing.
“That is why I have taken some of my tailors to Turkey, China, Germany and US.
“ I do this all the time to encourage them.
“I do this and say to them once you are a good tailor and you can buy your ticket to U.S., that same plane that carried Abiola (the late MKO) yesterday will carry you on the same seat if you can afford it.
“So there is nothing demeaning about being a tailor; you don’t need to change your name and call yourself a designer; if you are a tailor, be proud to say you are a tailor.’’
The governor noted that such people had carved identities for themselves in the fashion world because he had taken them on fashion show in New York and when one turned their dressed upside down one would not find faults.
According to Ikpeazu, quality control and personal touch are very high and that is why we appeal to the federal government to assist us to re-launch us in the garment industry because we have the value chain.
He noted that the state started from the tertiary and secondary levels but the primary thing was to enable it to produce garment, the fabric, in Aba.
“Once we produce the fabric then we have tied up the end otherwise all our efforts will end up in the hands of the fabric factories across the world.
“Let us do the thing end-to-end from primary to tertiary and that be it,’’ he pleaded with the Federal Government.
He reminded the youth in particular that “the future of the world economy is in what we can do with our hands not in white collar jobs neither is it in any other thing.
“Keke (commercial tricycle) is not a business. If you are riding Keke of Okada (commercial motorcycle) it is not something that will sustain you until you are 60.
“It is not a sustainable way of life and what you cannot wish your child should not take place,’’ he said.
The governor said that his administration was opening comprehensive skills acquisition centres in the three senatorial districts and advised the youths who could not afford to be trained in private organisations to utilize the centres.
The governor stated that the state had opened its doors to non-indigenes as anyone could hire the skills of another who was neither his tribesman nor belonged to his religion.
Ikpeazu said: “It is not about Abia, it is about Nigeria. The skills acquisition centre is for all.
“For many years, the man who used to repair my car is called Rashidi. He is a Yoruba man in Aba here.
“Skill also has no colour or state of origin.
“When we are sending people to China we send people from Ebonyi, even Imo. Once again, skill has no state of origin, the common denominator is can you do it?
“So we want to define a new environment, we want people to speak about Abia tomorrow as a basin, a basket of skill people.
“Some people allude to themselves as the food basket.
“This is the skill basket of Nigeria and that is where we are going so that people can take a decision to cite industry in Abia just because we find skill people here.’’
The governor also stated that the collaboration between the Federal Government and Abia government on job creation was yielding positive results.
According to him, Abia state has benefitted from the social inclusion programmes of the Federal Government in a massive way and I do not think that there is a state which is as prepared as Abia.
“Because before the Federal Government’s Npower (programme), we already had 34,000 youths in our data base, segregated according to skill sets, LG of origin, sex, areas of interest, levels of education etc.
“All that we needed to do was to key in on a platform that already existed,’’ the governor said
He explained that in the free school feeding system started by the federal government Abia was the only state that was feeding primary 1 to primary 6 pupils.
Federal Government is assisting us in Primary 1 to 3 but we are dong primary 4, primary 5 and primary 6 “because we understand the socio-cultural implication of feeding a primary 1 pupil in the same school where his brother in primary 4 is not eating anything’’.
He said that the state felt that the dichotomy would cause disharmony in the family as the junior pupil after eating egg might not get home safely because he would depend on the guidance of his elder brother who did not eat egg to take him home daily.
“So we decided to do 4, 5 and 6 and it is working.
“Our primary school enrolment in Abia today has moved from 115,000 to 303,000 in two years.
“And we have consistently retained the first position in West African School Cert for in Nigeria for three years.
“So these are clear evidence of things; our university has moved from no 90 to less than 40 in rating.
“Three years again, no strike, consistent training calendar; I think we are making progress and we are prepared,’’ he stated.
The governor also spoke on the epileptic power supply in some parts of the state saying that the problem was caused by the license granted to an individual to provide power in Aba without the input of the consumers.
He said that the administration would encourage competition in the power industry and would patronize any group that gave the least offer for power supply to consumers as it would boost production and investments in the state.