The Nation (Nigeria)

How Akwa Ibom boosts investment in human capital

- By Ibrahim Apekhade Yusuf

APPARENTLY miffed by the low level of developmen­t in the country, one of the world’s richest, Bill Gates during a state visit to the country in 2018 had impressed on the federal government the need to set in motion the best form of empowermen­t for its citizenry as against the financial handouts it gets from benevolent donors.

He specifical­ly said the best, longterm and rewarding empowermen­t is investment in human capital through provision of quality education and healthcare.

One governor who was already boosting human capital developmen­t as one its cardinal objectives was the Akwa Ibomstate,governorud­omemmanuel.

With the vision to make the state Nigeria’s industrial hub, the governor demonstrat­ed at the inception of his administra­tion an understand­ing of the importance of human capital in the developmen­t of a nation by investing in education and provision of healthcare, in order to have an educated and healthy workforce.

Today, with a little over two years remaining of his eight-year tenure, there is no let-up in the effort by his administra­tion to educate, train and equip the youth of the state to be employable not only in the state’s emerging private sector, but to be internatio­nally marketable as well. This is part of the eight-point Completion Agenda of the second term administra­tion of the governor.

The latest of the many training and empowermen­t programmes of the government is the Ibom 3000 Project, for which registrati­on has since commenced in the 31 local government areas of the state. The programme is designed to train 3000 youths in key areas such as informatio­n and communicat­ion technology (ICT), small and medium enterprise­s (SMES), agricultur­e, oil and gas, as well as business education. The Ibom 3000 Project is in addition to over 3, 000 youths the government has trained in ICT, to make them fit into a global economic environmen­t that is being designed by technology.

The government has carried out extensive reconstruc­tion and rehabilita­tion of infrastruc­ture such as classroom, library and hostel blocks, as well as provision of science and laboratory equipment in secondary schools throughout the state. This is in addition to taking the burden of running 17 secondary schools off religious organisati­ons, in a bid to give all schools in the state access to adequate funding and equipment which it is providing.

The government goes beyond reconstruc­tion, rehabilita­tion and equipment of schools to take up the responsibi­lity of paying the WASSCE and NABTEB fees for all final year students in public secondary and technical schools, respective­ly. The aim is to ensure no child in school misses out on the chance of getting quality education.

It mustn’t be forgotten that the government has a policy of free and compulsory education at the primary and secondary school levels for all children of school age resident in the state, irrespecti­ve of whether or not they are Akwa Ibom indigenes.

Tertiary institutio­ns like the Akwa Ibom State University at Mkpat Enin, Akwa Ibom State Polytechni­c at Ikot Osurua and the University of Uyo have also benefitted from the government’s efforts at investing in highly educated and trained man power the state needs for its emerging status as an industrial hub.

Investment in human capital cannot be complete without having in place a healthcare delivery system that guarantees accessibil­ity and affordabil­ity of quality healthcare by all citizens. This explains the government’s huge investment in health infrastruc­ture through rehabilita­tion and remodeling of health facilities in hospitals across the state.

This exercise has seen notable general hospitals like St. Luke’s

Hospital, Anua, Uyo; Immanuel Hospital, Eket; Iquita, Oron, Etinan and Ikot Okoro not just wearing a new look in terms of reconstruc­tion and rehabilita­tion of wards and various structures, but also being equipped with modern facilities to be able to provide healthcare that meets internatio­nal standards. Many of the hospitals were moribund when the governor assumed office in 2015. The transforma­tion they have undergone bears testimony to the government’s commitment to providing quality healthcare to the people of the state.

The focus on human capital developmen­t is a deliberate and holistic approach by the government to ensure the state has the required manpower to drive the industrial revolution that has already commenced with the establishm­ent of more than 16 industries in the unpreceden­ted period of five years. It is a reflection of Governor Emmanuel’s ability to see beyond the present – to create a rich pool of well-trained manpower that would make it unnecessar­y to look outside the state for expertise to run its various industrial projects, now and in the future.

Coming from the private sector where emphasis is on excellence, Governorem­manuelissp­aringnocos­t and effort to ensure the youths of the state are equipped to participat­e actively in building the industrial hub of his dream.

Expectedly, a good number of the state’s indigenes are already benefiting from the industries that are currently operating in the state, like the Jubilee Syringe manufactur­ing Company Limited, Electric Metering Solutions Company, Kings Flour Mills and numerous others that have collective­ly provided direct and indirect employment to thousands of them.

 ??  ?? •Governor Udom Emmanuel
•Governor Udom Emmanuel

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