The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, has assured of his resolve to create over 1.2 million jobs for the citizens using the opportunities presented by the state’s abundant potentials in agriculture and agro-allied industries.
Mbah gave the assurances during an interactive session with the members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Enugu State Chapter, held at the Nike Lake Resort and Hotel, Enugu at the weekend.
Addressing the professional body, the PDP gubernatorial candidate said his plan to transform the agricultural sector from subsistence farming to mechanised farming and agro-allied industrialisation would lead to the creation of different economic zones in the state to create at least 1.2 million jobs for the teeming youths.
“Our objective in the agricultural sector is to have special agro-allied processing zones across the three senatorial districts. We are also going to deploy technology, not just migrating from manual to mechanised agriculture, but also migrating from pipeline to platform means in intervening in the agricultural sector.
“We can’t afford to do a catch up because basically technology is taking over the space and we have to do a quantum leap and be in front and make sure that our farmers are ICT literate so that we will be able to use the technology we have to enhance and scale up their production.
“We know that if we can add an additional hectare of farmland to the level of farming we are doing now, we would have created four employments. It is one hectare, four people. Our plan is to have 100,000 hectares of farmland in each senatorial zone. That would amount to 400,000 jobs in each zone and 1.2 million jobs generated from agriculture alone across the state.
“We intend to do that by designating these areas as special economic zones so that the friction that the commercial farmers would ordinarily have with the communities would be avoided by such designation. We will work with the State House of Assembly to harmonise the land tenure system so that we can plot them depending on the size of what investors want to do”, he said.
He reiterated his commitment to move agriculture from the manual and pipeline method of cultivation to platform and technology-enabled agro-allied industrialisation where there would be value in the chain of production such as processing, packaging, storage facilities and infrastructure that would facilitate transportation of farm produce to the market.
He emphasised that his administration would embark on aggressive investment drive to create employment and ensure exponential economic growth.
“Our job as a government is to enable the environment for investment and that could be by several ways. Because the only business we have as a government in Enugu State is to make the state the preferred destination for investment, we are interested in de-risking investment flow. It could be by going into partnership with the prospective investors. It could be by making sure we undertake to provide some parts of that investment such as infrastructure.
“Our plan is also to ensure that as we are bringing in these investors, we are also aggressively training our youths; which is why we talk about skills acquisition centres; technical and vocational training centres and practical skills that are relevant to this ecosystem of investors and industries that we are going to be experiencing here in Enugu State.
“We are going to make sure our graduates have the relevant skills to support this huge influx of investment we are going to have here in the next four to eight years through our deliberate programmes to attract these investments. So, we’ll be creating those private sector driven growth across all the sectors” Mbah concluded.