Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo, Governor of Anambra State, has emphasized the importance of labor force participation in a federal structure like Nigeria.
In a South East Human Capital Development Conference (Regional Conference Anambra 2023) titled Changing the Narrative Towards Entrenching Human Capital Development in South East Nigeria, he emphasized this point.
The International Convention Center Awka hosted the Conference.
The Conference recommendations on labor force participation, according to Governor Soludo, are government centric but go far beyond that.
He went on to say that while his government is currently training over 5000 youths, it is a drop in the bucket. “There can be no labor force if the economy is dying.”
“The most important way for our country to encourage local labor force participation is to support our innovators and producers. How will jobs be created if you do not patronize them? How will we encourage our farmers to produce more? All textile companies in the Southeast have closed their doors. The only one that works is the one that makes the “Akwete” cloth I wear. And I wear Akwete as a fashion statement.
“We should eat what we produce and wear what we produce, creating millions of jobs in the process. This isn’t rocket science!
“If over 200 million Nigerians patronize our textile industries, we will create tens of millions of jobs in two years, but if we continue to import, we will continue to kill our economy,” Soludo maintained.
While analyzing the conference theme and some data presented, the Governor concluded that the South East region is performing poorly, and human capital appears to be the region’s only asset.
He went on to say that the South East has the smallest land mass and the fewest natural resources.
“In Anambra’s case, the state is the world’s gully erosion. We have the second smallest land mass after Lagos, and our land is extremely hostile.
“Our vast productive resources, investment, and financial assets are located outside of the region.
“We are unique in a number of ways that we must capitalize on in order to ask what we will do differently to produce different results,” Soludo says.
Naturally, Governor Soludo explained that Human Capital is the only dependable resource for yesterday, today, and tomorrow for South East.
“This conference is fundamental to who we are. We will not get anywhere unless we fully utilize human capital.
“How does the South East, with its uniqueness and vast resources dispersed throughout the world, ratchet up the homeland and build the ones for tomorrow? What do we need to do differently?
“There’s a lot more work to be done for the South East working committee in addition to the ones that have already been done,” Soludo said.
“The concept of communities is very strong in the SouthEast. Many primary and secondary schools were built by communities rather than the government. Communities have paved numerous roads.
“Most of the recommendations from this conference are government centric, in essence what Government must do but more than 99% of the region’s resources happen to be in private hands.
“You must carefully consider and leverage your delivery mechanism!”
“Our delivery mechanism in Anambra is a Public Community Private Partnership. What can the community do to help? What is the government’s role? What can the Local Government do?
“We must mainstream studies, comparative studies and locations, best practices; who do we want to imbibe? Who are our counterparts or benchmarks?
“We are living in the digital age and the fourth industrial revolution. How can we get from where we are now to where we need to be? How do we make use of technology?
“What will the structure be for networking, collaboration, and cooperation? Can we form a regional team to review curriculum? This is something we’re attempting in Anambra “Soludo stated.
“The Nigerian educational system strives for common standards rather than minimum standards. Who says we can’t have a SouthEast exam board even if it’s not part of the national curriculum?
“There is room for us to think as a region. Let’s work together to make these things happen.
“In our teacher recruitment, we made a statement. It should not be about who you know when it comes to teaching. We hired solely on the basis of merit. The names of teachers were published in national dailies for transparency purposes, and regardless of state of origin, this is the message that must be conveyed to the country.
“This message must become mainstream; hiring people should not be based on their state of origin. As a Federation, we must hire Nigerians as long as they meet the basic job requirements. I’ve seen some promising people who aren’t from Anambra on the list of permanent secretaries. I will appoint them if they pass the final stage of the interview.
“These points I’m raising are not in your recommendations, but they must be addressed. We must have the desire to carry them out because where there is a will, there must be a way “Soludo concluded.
Earlier, Dr Ibezim Onyekachukwu, Deputy Governor of Anambra State, stated in his welcome address that the conference, which began yesterday, has been impactful.
He stated that Anambra State is the South East’s human development capital, which is why the state was chosen to host the conference.
Governor Soludo, according to him, has a clear vision of what he wants to do for the people of Anambra. He also chaired the Anambra Vision 2070 committee, which was combined with the transition committee’s reports and his manifesto.
The Deputy Governor revealed that Governor Soludo employed 5000 teachers in the state, indicating human capital development, in the revelation that Britain is in high demand for teachers in Nigeria. This feat, he claims, was also repeated in the health sector.
He mentioned that based on the conference’s findings and recommendations, a working document for South East Governors will be created to help move the region forward.
Personalities in attendance are; Prof Solo Chukwulobelu, Secretary to Anambra State Government, Mr. Ernest Ezeajughi, Chief of Staff to Governor Soludo, Dr Sam Ogbu-Nwobodo, the Managing Director/CEO, Enugu State Investment Development Authority, Representing Governor of Enugu State, Hon. Prince Ford Ozumba, Commissioner for Labour, Employment & Productivity, Representing Governor of Imo State, Barr. Theodore Igwegbe, Anambra Head of Service, Mrs Chiamaka Nnake, Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Prof. Kate Omenugha, Former Commissioner for Education, Hon. Titus Akpudo, National President, Anambra State Association of Town Union, Members of Anambra State Executive Council amongst others.