It is no longer news that the Delta Governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, recently signed into law, the Local Content Agency Act 2020. The Delta State Local Content Agency Law 2020, the governor stated during the ceremony, would provide opportunities for transfer of skills and technology to the people and warned against host communities taking laws into their hands.
“We believe that there is a need to begin to think about our people and how to strengthen them..This is not just about the oil industry; it includes all industries and business enterprises in the state employing people within the limit of the law. “I believe that this local content law being domesticated in our state is for the good of our state and for our federation, because once Delta is peaceful, it will contribute her quota to the development of the country. “Once the community is peaceful, the state is peaceful; we are contributing our quota towards the development of the country.
Obviously a well thought development. It is both socioeconomic and moral issues that affect the survival of Deltans human civilization. It is not a question of party divides or affiliation. It is a right step taken in the right direction particularly as the state has in the past been faced with various economic, social, political, educational, and development problems.
These problems have eventually led to poverty, corruption, kidnapping, unemployment, stealing, terrorism, militancy, and armed robbery amongst others. Unemployment has diverse implications. As large unemployed youth population is a threat to the security of the few that are employed, and any transformation agenda that does not have job creation at the centre of its programme will take us nowhere.
It was also a similar concern/consideration to tackle theses challenges facing the nation, that propelled the Federal Government of Nigeria, under the leadership of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR), in March 2010 signed into law the Nigerian Local Content Act which aimed at promoting industrialization of the nation’s oil and gas industries and thereby improving the economic and social well being of citizens engaged in the industries.
However, for this recently domesticated law to be useful, impactful and improve the life chances of Deltans, there are many steps that the state government must take,
First, this is an all important time for the state to pay less emphasis on university education. Technical and Commercial colleges should be established and funded to produce graduates that are technically fit. This step should be followed by massive industrialization of the state. To create opportunity for optimum local content utilization the state must engage in owning business and manufacturing outfits like what was done in the 1970s-1990s when the now rested MidWest/Bendel State efficiently operated companies such as; MidWest Lines, Bendel Hotel, Bendel Insurance, and Bendel Glass, Asaba Textiles Mill among others.
This step is necessary as there is no wisdom in teaching a man to fish in an environment where there is no river or training a man without a job creation plan. It is the opinion of the Ika Weekly Newspaper that the state government can revive old, establish and operate profitable businesses.
As a responsible organization, we are of strong opinion that it is not right for the state to dole out money to Nigerian youths with the aim of eradicating poverty or as a means of supporting local content development. Such huge resources do not have economic value. Instead, such funds should be used as soft loans to support already existing privately owned industries and factories of production in the states, whose owners already have business and job creation experience.
This proposition is not without precedence.
In the 1980s/90s, small scale loan schemes from the then Bendel state Ministry of Trade and Agriculture supported with favourable economic environment created by the state government, assisted many organizations specifically in Ika Land and Bendel State as a whole to flourish. Those organizations with foresighted leaderships/management created hundreds of direct and indirect jobs for the people. Examples of such industries in Ika Nation include but not limited to; Central Industries Limited, SNOW WHITE Pulp and Paper Company, Crest Biscuits Industries Ltd, Unity Plastics Industries, Cornerstone Plastics Industries Ltd and Renea Industry Limited among others. These are verifiable facts.
Also, as the Governor noted at the ceremony that ‘it is important that there should be a collaborative effort between the companies that operate in the state and the people in whatever form the company is operating’. It will not in any way be considered a bad idea if the state government thinks in the above direction as a way of promoting such collaboration.
In the same vein, the state should be ready to incorporate commercial farming into such specialised areas of dairy farming; essential fruits. And they (Government) should be ready to demonstrate leadership by example via patronage/consumption of these locally produced commodities. Aside from providing employment and income, such a move will assist the Governor right his name in the sand of time.