To reflate its economy, Jigawa State looks no further than providing jobs and an enabling environment for workers. Small-scale entrepreneurs are getting much attention across the 27 local government areas of the state. Local miners are encouraged, as are traders and industrialists. There is impetus on skill acquisition. To leave no one in doubt as to the seriousness of the Abubakar administration in lifting the economy, trade unions are also getting the stimulus.
Virtually every part of the state is aware that something positive and different is happening in Jigawa. On the day the governor made known the various job packages at the Yakubu Gowon NYSC orientation camp, thousands of residents turned up at the colourful ceremony. They were not the only ones present; traditional rulers and political leaders were also there. About 1,574 job categories were available valued at over N300m. Job tools were provided for small-scale entrepreneurs.
The Abubakar administration wants to achieve a number of things with his jobs plan. The state economy will buoy up, people will be employed and as they are productively engaged, crime will be contained. The government sees it as a win-win plan.
The state government has a plan to use agriculture and its value-added chain to build its economy, with equal priority on mining, commerce and industries especially through supporting small and medium enterprises with soft loans and providing the enabling environment for business to flourish.
The distribution ceremony was the talk of the town.
It was not the first time the government would empower the people. In the last two years over 50,000 persons have benefited from different programmes. The latest one, though, is unique in style and approach.
Speaking at the event, Governor Abubakar said, “Since the inception of the present administration various economic empowerment initiatives have been established aimed at reducing the high rate of unemployment among the youth where over 51,000 people, mostly women and youths, were empowered in the last two years.”
Speaking further, Alhaji Abubakar said, “I wish to inform you that our programme targets both youths and women. Today, by God’s grace, we are empowering about 1,574 youths on various acquisitions skills and related equipment worth N300 million”.
He said, “Over eighty percent of the people of this state are small-scale farmers. That is part of the government’s reason for placing more priority on the agricultural sector as the greatest potentials for economic transformation.”
Governor Abubakar also said that the state’s job plan is in line with the federal government’s drive to diversify from the oil sector to agriculture, mining and other cash sources that will discourage importation and encourage export.
He said, “The new economic empowerment initiative includes the cluster farming system, micro-credit, soft loans, and skill acquisition equipment of different phases,” adding that buses were also provided for the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
Abubakar said, “Now we are giving 100 rice and wheat threshers of 200kg per hour, 100 rice mills of 200kg to 700kg per hour in three sizes and 100 single row multi-purpose planters, and 100 double row multipurpose planters, 300 hand-held rice/wheat harvesters and 574 manual sprayers two per ward across 287 wards distributed to beneficiaries.”
Others include Seed Capital Drugs to 287 PCN Certified Youths empowered with patent vendor medicine stores (1person per ward, 27 commercial buses to members of National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), 4 25 tons rice mill to large-scale agriculturalists, 40 rice dealers with Seed Capital of N10 million, 20 paddy dealers with N200, 000:00 each and 20 rice dealers with N300, 000.00 each.
Badaru called on the beneficiaries to use the equipment judiciously and make prompt repayment ý so that other programmes can be rolled out to ensure programme sustainability.
Many of the public commentators and observers are of the opinion that looking at the equipment and other packages distributed during the ceremony, certainly the programme looks to succeed, and is likely to produce multiple jobs that could positively impact the social and economic development of the state.
While some noted that the programme is well-conceived, they also stressed that its success will depend largely on mechanisms put in place to constantly monitor and review beneficiaries’ performance. This process of monitoring will spot areas needing adjustments and further engagement.
In his keynote address, the National President of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Dr. Kasim Ibrahim Batayya called on other state governors in the federation to emulate Governor Abubakar’s jobs plan, “especially loans to transporters”.
Batayya also appealed to the federal government to come up with a similar programme “but the federal government should be seeking to improve the transportation sector and enhance the economy and citizens’ well-being”.