When it first debuted some 15 months ago, many considered it a political rhetoric and a platform for the relaunching of a re-run campaign that seemed then to rule political discourse in the State. But the sincerity that underlined it as a policy was noticeable in the passion exemplified by the midwife, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, governor of Akwa Ibom State and the commitment of the facilitators who spared no efforts in reengineering economic models that are suitable to our clime. Today Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme, AKEES is raring to take the place of being the flagship policy of the Udom administration. Thanks to the power of vision for which the governor is already being associated.
When the Udom administration came to being, it articulated the focus of his governance to be industrialization and of course with its sine qua non being job creation. And any government that seeks to achieve job and wealth creation at a period of global economic volatility like now must be creative and familiar with inventive models. That is part of the role AKEES has come to fill I our economic spectrum. AKEES as a policy is designed to engage the skills, ideas, capacities and productive endeavours of Akwa Ibom people as strategic prelude to the industrial revolution that the State is set to embrace. The approach includes trainings, partnerships, franchise schemes, internships, specially designed development schemes and capacity buildings.
AKEES, as a policy, has set objectives and milestones. One of such is the reduction of youth unemployment by 50% come 2020. It is an indubitable fact that unemployment across the youth bracket has constituted a serious social anomie. Vices like violent crimes, drug abuse, rape, militancy, political thuggery and sundry other sub – culture behaviours are results of lack of gainful engagements. It is often common yet disheartening to observe that many youths populate any political gatherings on working days suggesting therefore that the youths available at such places are literally idle. Afterall no sane person that is involved in a money making venture would abandon his lucrative undertaking to go and idle away his precious time at political events that he knows his contributions are not needed. The Udom administration seems to be determined to change the mindsets and attitudes of our youths and reconfigure them into a vision that is in strict tandem with the Dakkada philosophy which is a launch towards greatness.
Suffice to say that AKEES vision has successfully merged with the Dakkada philosophy and crystallized into a galvanizing tool. In about 15 months, more than 21 thousand people have registered for the AKEES programme in acknowledgement of the moral demand that they must rise to their fate of greatness. It is good bye to the era of complacency, lamentation and self pity. It is a period of reawakening and realization that our destiny lies in our hands and that with GOD on our side, our dreams are within our reach. That is what this robust vision midwifed by the Udom Emmanuel administration has redefined for Akwa Ibom people.
Interestingly, AKEES thrives on ideas. In deference to its underpinning, it has made itself a marketplace where ideas enjoy a think through. It is possible therefore for one to walk into an AKEES centre with an idea but without tools for execution and come out a millionaire as they are people who would help in the embellishing of the idea while facilities are also available to enable the implementation of the concept. AKEES also encourages synergy and partnership to broaden production capacity with attendant increase in realizable income.
Pursuant to this, AKEES has evolved four unique enterprise activation models. The first one is that which allows beneficiaries of AKEES to own their individual businesses through small partnership and business based authorization. There is also the enterprise programme where individuals are supported to start their businesses through the meeting of some certain needs in the marketplace. Another of AKEES model is the job programme which is designed to equip youths with the requisite skills-sets for diverse industries. Then comes AKEES common facility and equipment centres drawn from prototypes used in emerging economies in Asia. The model is developed to encourage the formation of industry clusters. The strong merit of this model is that different entrepreneurs in similar engagement can utilize the same facilities for their operations. But one point must be made abundantly clear, according to the facilitator who doubles as the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Technical Matters and Due Process, AKEES is not involved in the business of giving or sharing money , neither is it into loan shacking. It is available to help enrich business ideas and perhaps design programmes of operation for the owners.
AKEES’ success stories are indeed heartening. Rising from latent and docile youth entrepreneurship to a record breaking feat of preponderant business initiatives within the State in just 15 months is indeed cheering news. Within the period in reference, 85 businesses have been either created or strengthened. More than 1500 of youths in the State have been gainfully engaged within the period under review. If such novel leapfrogs could be made within such a short period with humongous number sucked out from participation in sundry social Vices, then we can imagine what the State and its people stand to achieve with AKEES if the programme is sustained. Hope is however given vent by the fact that consistency, principle and sustainability are watchwords of AKEES.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of AKEES is its broad based framework with unlimited options. AKEES is designed to cover every gamut of business. The human imagination is a resource of limitless possibilities. The programme encourages the subjection of the human imagination to the task of thinking with AKEES remaining receptive to any idea. Its resource persons are also always on hand to assist in fine-tuning and embellishing the idea for productive application. In Elder Ufot Ebong’s seminal press briefing, he tinkered with a scenario involving someone who wishes to undertake the business of polishing shoes noting that if he does that for 100 clients a year at the cost of N3000 each, such a person would gross a net income of N300 Hundred Thousand per annum.
AKEES programmes in the State as at today has covered significant grounds spanning agriculture, finance and legal solutions, fashion and clothing’s, publishing and advertising, ICT and Data management etc. So far it has proven itself an effective tool of employment generation and viable option for wealth creation. But sadly, cynics and those who do politics with all things had since pooh poohed the programme describing it as a scam. Now that the programme is yielding viable fruits, their impervious and cluttered minds have refused to accept the phenomenal success so far recorded. May God help us see the light and take advantage of opportunities without playing politics with them.
Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst.