Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
Governor of Anambra State, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo, has said that human capital which is the greatest capital of the South-East region should be increasingly explored to project the region to a greater economic growth.
Governor Soludo stated this during the 2023 South-East Human Capital Development Conference held at the International Convention Center, Awka.
The theme of the Conference is “Changing the Narrative Towards Entrenching Human Capital Development in South-East Nigeria.”
Governor Soludo explained that “human capital is the only dependable resource for yesterday, today, and tomorrow for South-East.”
Speaking as the host Governor, Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo said: “This conference is fundamental to who we are. We will not get anywhere unless we fully utilise 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 in addition to the ones that have already been done,” Soludo said.
“The concept of communities is very strong in the South-East. 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, Private Community 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.
Continuing, he said: “The Nigerian educational system strives for common standards rather than minimum standards. Who says we can’t have a South-East Examination 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 be mainstreamed; 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,” Governor Soludo maintained.
The Governor also emphasised the importance of labor force participation in a federal structure like Nigeria.
He noted that while his government is currently training over 5000 youths, that it was like 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 patronise them? How will we encourage our farmers to produce more? All textile companies in the South-East 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,” the Governor stressed.
“If over 200 million Nigerians patronise 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.”
While analysing 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 reiterate 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 site. 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 capitalise on, in order to ask what we will do differently to produce different results,” Soludo concluded.
Earlier while welcoming participants, the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim, stated that Anambra State is the South-East’s human development capital, which is why the state was chosen to host the conference.
According to him, Governor Soludo has a clear vision of what he wants to do for the people of Anambra, explaining that 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, which is part of human capital development.
This feat, he said, 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 would be created to help move the region forward.