Akwa Ibom State indigenes in South Africa say they are worried over the high unemployment rate in their state as released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics recently.
According to the NBS report, Akwa Ibom State is said to have the highest unemployment rate in the Niger Delta region at 45.2 per cent and underemployment at 21.7 per cent.
One million, four hundred and forty-four thousand, three hundred and ninety-nine (1,444,399) residents were recorded as unemployed with a total labour force of 2,534,495.
The Executive Committee of the Association Akwa Ibom Indigenes in South Africa after its meeting, which was presided over by the President, Moris Essien, urged Akwa Ibomites in the Diaspora to return and assist the government in providing skills and developments.
“An Akwa Ibomite established the first MacDonald franchise in South Africa that have so far grown to more than 300 stores around that country,” Essien said in a statement from Pretoria, South Africa on Thursday.
“The group can boast of leaders of industries and heads in various corporate and government departments. Why then can we not take back our skills to benefit our state.”
The group also pledged its support for the Niger Delta Development Commission audit, and urged the Minister of Niger Delta, Senatir Godswill Akpabio, not to be distracted by people who were standing against accountability.
Essien said: “In spite of Akwa Ibom State contributing the highest in oil revenue to the national purse, the state could be said to be the least beneficiary of the oil wealth.
“More than 25 years since the Nigeria Newsprint Manufacturing Company (NNMC), Oku Iboku in Akwa Ibom was shut down and over 10 years after it was privatised, the company has failed to resume operations and remained comatose.
“We calls on the Federal Government to look at resuscitating various government businesses in the state like the Oku Iboku Paper Mill and the Aluminium Smelter Plant in Ikot Abasi as that will complement the state government efforts in boasting economic activities and provide employment to the citizens.”
The association commended President Muhammed Buhari for approving a new oil and gas free zone for Akwa Ibom.
Among the Executive Committee members that attended the open virtual meeting were President – Moris Essien; Vice-President – Akaniyene Willie; Secretary – Emmanuel Iwatt; Assistant Secretary, Reuben Inyang; and Welfare Officer, Etido Ogboro.