Joe Effiong, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State government has continued to reject National Bureau of Statistics’ report that the state has the highest unemployment and underemployment rate in the country.
The NBS in its 3rd quarter report of 2018, had said that the unemployed and underemployed persons in Akwa Ibom State constitute 37 percent of the entire population of the state, the highest in the country.
But the state Commissioner for Economic Development, Mr Ekong Sampson, told our correspondent that the report was untrue.
“No discernible person will agree with the statistics that Akwa Ibom State has the highest number of unemployed persons in the country. That statistics does not reflect what is happening on the ground in the state.
“In the first place, our people are very industrious on their own. They work very hard. We have a very robust work force; very robust work attitude. Secondly, the state government has shown clearly that government can industrialise and broaden the flanks of the economy. Industries are on ground employing a lot of our people. There has been intense awareness through the Dakkada philosophy.
“When you add this to the fact that Nigeria is coming daily to Akwa Ibom State, you find the rating by the NBS quite debatable.
“We have a private sector that is working closely with the state government to provide employment to our people given the fact that the state government has shown good faith in addressing the concerns of the people over unemployment
“As I said earlier, industries are opening up in an environment that is very peaceful; that statistics doesn’t really add up.
“Equally debatable is the rating that Akwa Ibom has the highest number of out-of- school children.
“Akwa Ibom State operates free and compulsory education and we have a state that our people clearly are education-prone. The average Akwa Ibom parent is determined to send their child to school. That is very serious and the state government has also shown real commitment to providing key infrastructure to make education accessible to every child.
“So the rating that the state has the highest number of out-of-school children cannot stand and is highly debatable,” Sampson said.
He said that it was not impossible for the reported to be politically-tented since so many things are possible in Nigeria.
“But to every discerning observer, such a rating is debatable. We don’t need to wait for the rating to improve infrastructure in the state. Before the controversial rating, the state government had already cleared the way in industrialisation. Äkwa Ibom State apart from Lagos State is rated as having attracted the highest level of foreign direct investment.
“Ibom Air will soon start flying; the syringe manufacturing company is operating maximally; if you visit Mkpat Enin, you will see coconut plantation. We are doing all this to broaden the scope of the economy and create wealth,”he said.