By Cyril Aririguzo
It is very obvious that youths represent the hope, aspiration and survival of any society thinking to achieve greatness in the future. Youths as an integral part of the society are the bedrock for any meaningful development and building of a virile and healthy nation. This is why most developed countries of the world come up with programmes and policies geared towards carrying them along as well as equipping them for sustainable economic, social and political development.
Investing in youths, has become very necessary and important task in order to address adequately and reduce the problem of youth restiveness, armed robbery, kidnapping and other social vices which most youths are involved in today. With the problems of insecurity, abject poverty, corruption and disease on the increase, it is important to point out that if something is not done by the government to arrest the situation, the state may be heading to a point of no solution and by implication a lawless society may be in the making.
This is because Imo State has been trapped and messed up by an irreversible debilitating cycle of poverty disease and hopelessness as a result of unemployment. With the number of unemployed youths assuming a frightening dimension and the government not doing anything concrete to address the situation, makes it difficult for one to assume a hopeful future for our youths. The truth in Imo State is that poverty, unemployment and disease are prevalent and visible in the State.
The problem is ravaging, dehumanizing, de-populating our people en-mass. It would be ideal if any objective analysis of the critical period in the history of Imo State from the pre-military era to where we are now as a people pre-supposed a journey through hardship (suffering and smiling) stagnation, maladministration, lack of purposeful leadership, corruption and above all insensitivity to the plight of the people. That Imo State has not been lucky with good leadership for a very long time now is a truth that cannot be argued.
The frightening increase in poverty rate across the nooks and crannies of the state have sent shocking waves to our spire that the state is presently sick and under siege as it is experiencing the worse form of economic hardship occasioned by visionless, immature and insensitive government. The failure to introduce realistic policies that would benefit the citizenry instead of inflicting pain and suffering, has received huge condemnation by some concerned leaders like Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha who continuously accuse the government of running short of ideas in dealing with economic matters. The prevalent abject poverty has become endemic as it has affected the psyche of the people, our value system and has only encouraged crime of all sorts.
The malaise has swiftly pinned down our people with no sign of solution in sight and that is why many have argued that the state cannot be said to be rescued by the present government. From available statistics in the 27 LGAs, there is an unimaginable cry of hunger, starvation and disease. People can hardly eat a square meal or be able to meet up providing for their families. Survey has shown that it is very difficult for one to get assistance from friends or relatives, as everybody is grossly affected by the problem, even those in APC are also suffering the same and are merely keeping quiet to justify their loyalty to the party and government, since they have no alternative plan on where to go.
The state leadership style has become a frustrating detail in recent time and has been adjudged the worst kind of government in the history of the state by all assessment with every economic parameter. The government has been accused of compounding the expectations of the ordinary man who waits in vain to feel the impact of good governance. Civil servants have continued to slug it out with the government over non-payment of salaries, gratuities and pensions. Sadly, the confidence reposed on the government to bring the desired change has been dashed with frustration and disappointment, while many have resigned to fate as the crisis continues.
The present day Imo State has been rated very low in education, health, tourism, sports, agriculture and housing. The fallen standard of education predicated by the poorly managed free education programme is the reason for the massive failure of Imo Children in external examination like: WAEC, NECO and JAMB. If I may recall, Governor Okorocha soon after his second tenure reiterated his determination to address unemployment and to fulfill his campaign promises of factory, factory, Industry, Industry! Industry!!, Job! Job! Job, Employment, Employment, Employment. Still nothing is seen to be done for the youths.
Unfortunately, these long years of neglect have gradually robbed off on the youths negatively, in terms of their potentials, abilities and responsibilities as future leaders. This has invariably contributed to the upsurge in criminal activities in the state. What does the future hold for our youths? What kind of legacy are our leaders leaving for the youths to emulate? Are the leaders really interested in building the youths that will outlive them? Is the assertion “the youths are the future leaders” still attainable and realistic? When will the government make proactive steps toward harvesting the surplus natural and human resources in the state?
We thought the government should have provided an enabling environment to drive the economy and create jobs for our youths. Late Same Mbakwe’s industrial master plan with which the establishment of Amaraku and Izombe electric power plant, the Nsu tiles factory, Okigwe bricks industry, Uboma Rice project and mill, Avutu poultry, Inyishi Aluminum extrusion company, Mbaise paint industry, Imo shoe factory, Imo Palm Ltd. etc, to kick-start an industry revolution and engage our teeming idle youths.
Governor Okorocha should urgently do something and alleviate the suffering of the people by initiating concrete programme that will empower the youths in the areas of entrepreneurial skill, agriculture, vocational and technical education. This time-soft loan should be made available in banks and should be made less cumbersome for talented graduates. With all these abnormities in Imo State political clime, many are beginning to see the mistakes they made by not supporting PDP governorship candidate, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha with their votes to salvage them out of this whole mess.
The day will come again in 2019 when I expect Imolites to rise up above zonal sentimental politics and ensure that people with vision are voted into power. A government of an Emeka Ihedioha can never be compared with what we are experiencing now in Imo State, believe it or leave it.