The Chancellor, Gregory University, Uturu (GUU), Prof. Greg Ibe, has advised the Federal Government to give concessions and rebate to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as part of the economic stimulus package.
Ibe gave the advice when the leadership of Correspondents Chapel, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Abia Council, visited him in his country home in Uturu, Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia.
He said that such economic relief from the government would help to rejuvenate the SMEs and make the economy more buoyant in the face of the current recession.
The renowned development consultant and founder of GUU advised against the federal government’s policy to regulate the price of agricultural produce.
He opined that the measure would be counterproductive.
Ibe said that it would be unjustifiable for the government to try to regulate the price of produce when the price of raw materials and other inputs remained high.
“The forces of demand and supply should be allowed to determine the price of food items in the market because farmers and producers spend so much to get their raw materials,” he said.
Ibe expressed misgivings about the federal government’s youth empowerment through cash handouts, saying that the nation’s youths should be encouraged to acquire skills.
He urged the government to embark on what he called “programme deliveries with strong expected outcomes”, similar to the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP).
“Since the end of NAPEP where people, who were trained in different skills, were given equipment and cash to take off, there has not been any such programme in the country,” he said.
Ibe, therefore, urged the federal government to initiate a national skill acquisition programme for youths that would be replicated in the 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
He said he had a World Bank project to train 2,000 youths in different skills from the “poorest of the poor” local councils in Abia, including Ohafia, Osisioma, Ugwunagbo, Ukwa East and Ukwa West.
Ibe also said that he had 100 Abia youths under his scholarship scheme in GUU in the fields of Agriculture, Insurance, Engineering and Radiology, amongst others.
He said that he strongly believes in the development of the youths at the community and local government levels primarily to check unemployment and rural-urban migration.
Speaking on the agitation for the emergence of Nigeria’s president of Igbo extraction in 2023, Ibe said he would prefer the South-East zone to have additional state to be at par with other geo-political zones to the choice for the presidency.
He feared that the project might be difficult to realise except the zone got an “equalisation state” or all the five southeast states agreed to move to the ruling All Progressives Congress.
Ibe, who was a governorship aspirant on the platform of the People Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019, also spoke extensively on his ambition to run for the 2023 governorship poll in the state.
He said that the Abia Charter of Equity endorsed power shift with a provision that Isuikwuato should have its turn after power had moved round between the two blocs.
“This is in line with the principle of justice, fairness and equity and I am prepared to present myself to the party for 2023.
“I am glad that those elders of the party that advised me to drop my ambition in 2019 are still alive. I will remind them when the time comes,” Ibe said.
In a remark, the Chairman of the chapel, Mr Obinna Ibe, said the visit was designed to create a better and more robust relationship between the chapel and chancellor along with the university.
Ibe commended him for his love for his community, Abia and Nigeria at large as evidenced in the development initiatives taking place in the area through his efforts.