Cross River state governor, Professor Ben Ayade has warned that any further extension of lockdown of the country in response to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic will spell doom for the country.
He said any further extension of the lockdown will give rise as to uncontrollable youth restiveness, adding that it was better to lockout than lockdown.
The governor, who spoke on Tuesday, 21st April, 2020, at the Industrial Park, Calabar, also used the opportunity to confirm that his administration has already created 8000 jobs in response to the Coronavirus outbreak and the recruitment of these youths in their thousands, was targeted at avoiding social tension in view of the harsh economic impact created by COVID 19.
Gov Ayade said: “With prices of oil falling, locking out is far better than locking down because another two weeks of lockdown will find this country under siege by young people. There is no way you can hold down these young energies for too long.
“It is demographic, it is statistics. Sixty Five percent of the population is below the age of 35 and the virus itself does not have penetrative force in such a demography and that is what we have to recognize as a country”
The governor explained that the difference in climate conditions between the west and Africa was the reason the pandemic is ravaging that part of the world.
“Our demography is different from the west. Our climatic conditions are different. If you take the wind speed, the wind direction, sun intensity, radiation and the factors that govern the movement of a virus, ours is a situation that makes it difficult to spread with the speed it is spreading in the western world.
“So, our response strategy should reflect our environmental sensitivity. May be what COVID 19 will eventually do is to sharpen the consciousness of young people to come together. That will be very dangerous and so, to nip that in the bud, we have to find jobs for them because sincerely, that is the provision in the constitution. Section 14 sub section 2 says the welfare and security of the people are the primary essence of government”
The Cross River state governor disclosed that industries established by his administration will absorb the youths and get them engaged.
“I have to get the young people off the street, I need to get them engaged. I need to get them to survive and that is the essence of government.”
He explained that the urgency of the situation has forced his administration to slow down on major projects, saying: “At this time, major projects have to slow down and we have to switch attention to the young people who for no fault of theirs are out of school.”
Governor Ayade then advocated channelling donations to the COVID-19 campaign to job creation. “If you have international support of N21 billion, you have to find how to use it to create jobs and not how to use it on COVID 19 campaign because it will end one day”, he said.
Speaking extensively on the motivation behind the massive recruitment drive, which he disclosed was part of measures to cushion the economic impact of lockdowns following the outbreak of coronavirus, Governor Ayade said: “On Tuesday we commenced the recruitment of 8,000 youths for a flat salary of N30,000 a month.
“It is difficult to continue putting food on people’s tables. If today I bring you bags of rice, beans and everything else and tomorrow I do the same, by the third day you are becoming a beggar.
“Any man who loses his identity and integrity, who cannot work with his own style has lost humanity and that is what makes you a human being.
“And so I do not want to turn my people to beggars who will depend on the gift of food. Rather, I have invented a system of only giving food to our old parents, the physically challenged, those who cannot farm , those who cannot fish because you don’t give fish to a fisherman.
“A young man with all the energy cannot be allowed to waste it, you can only engage that energy. If you give him food with all that youthful energy he will still exert it either on something good or bad.
“So, we need to take that youthful energy and convert it into value.
“I have no elections to run, but I have to do this personally. I have a Commissioner of Finance, I have a Commissioner of Health, I have different people who could do this, it’s not my job but I was personally there to oversee the process because I didn’t seek power for the mere aggrandizement of the office but clearly to serve.
“The 18 Local Government are here including non indigenes and we are going to take as much as we can…We have lots of equipments here as you can see and if you are interested in becoming bulldozer drivers please indicate in your form, for those who want to drive tractors and payloaders please indicate same in your forms. We also have category for farming, litter picking , urban renewal, please indicate accordingly.
“It is only in Nigeria that you have full students. In Europe you find students who are in school and working at the same time, so here we will give students work too.
“I urge the applicants to use this N30,000 monthly payment judiciously if employed. N30000 is no money but at least it is better than nothing. Here at the industrial park we have many factories and we are ready to employ many more to man these factories especially widows.
“I advice you, choose a job close to your home so that you don’t end up spending all the N30,000 on transport every month. This program is our own little way of supporting you through this difficult period as a government,” the Cross Rivers State Governor said.