By Jacob Emmanuel
Unemployment is the forerunner of poverty while poverty itself according to Aristotle is the father of crime and revolution. The adage that an idle mind is the “devil’s workshop” is given credence to, by the negative output of a mind not engaged in any meaningful venture from dawn to dusk.
According to verified data, during the period before the siting of West African Ceramics, the crime rate in Ajaokuta was at its peak. During that period one cannot keep a pin outside and wake up the following morning and see it. Sadly, it was a time in which on daily basis we hear of armed robbery, kidnappings and cases of rape. Armed robbery alone was placed at at 48.2% while others made up the remaining percentages.
The activities of idle individuals made the polity insecure and tense. Increased clashes between rival cultist groups were also experienced between these periods. When the mind of the youth is idle the outcome is always injurious to the whole society. Some heard of how homes are burgled, some experienced it, some are victims of daylight show of brute force by criminal elements while others are blindly recruited into cultism. How can we hurriedly forget the dangers plighting Ajaokuta Adogo road early in the morning and late at night?
It was a painful period of hardship and hunger that led to the untimely death of some and the poisoning of others as a result of consuming cassava due to the non-payment of the salaries of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) workers for over eleven months by the Federal government. By this time, the sorry phrase of “when ASCL pay” was the license to getting credit from marketers. I could vividly remember how many times I had to trek to school from PYN (Lagos Estate) to Camp due to the blockade of the road by striking workers. The condition was simply no salary, hunger in the land and the rise of Insecurity caused by an economy that is solely dependent on workers’ monthly salaries.
To end Insecurity, all the estates within the Ajaokuta metropolis employed the services of vigilantes, a short term solution that was flawed from inception. Perhaps, further justifying the assertion that ” criminality cannot be defeated with force” outside the key solutions to the root causes that are unemployment, idleness and hunger.
This analysis is important because it will revive the lost memories of those that forgot the journey thus far, especially the ones that are ignoring the progress made due to undefined political interests.
Just when doomsday was upon us a protagonist like none other emerged to clear the thorny path we are trekking on and reset our destination. The hero in this piece is the pacesetter of Ajaokuta politics and a man whose manner of representation is top-notch. Please Permit me to properly introduce the man with the “Magical touch”.
Hon. Lawal is a captain of industries following the footsteps of his father (Dr Mahmud Oji Idirisu) most especially his father’s long term wish of establishing a company in Ajaokuta to benefit the people. His father was one of the forerunners that influenced the choice of Ajaokuta to site the steel complex but he was still longing to establish a private outfit for his people which was accomplished by his great son Hon. Lawal.
According to an eyewitness report, the father of our pragmatic and service-oriented lawmaker gave him a matching order to come home and help his people, which he has been doing diligently long before answering the call of his constituents to serve them in an official capacity.
The fact remains that the Stories of the unwanted happenings got to Honorable Muhammadu Lawal Idirisu and he responded with a masterstroke in the form of a private partnership that gave birth to the West African Ceramics. The project greatly reduced the number of unemployed both within and outside Ajaokuta. Today we have people from different states of the federation earning and putting food on their tables. The stabilisation of the Ceramic project brought relief to all, not just those working there.
Since the kick-off of the project, the economy of Ajaokuta opened up to other opportunities. The impact of the partnership is positively felt by those ready to work. The West African Ceramics also attracted the coming of BN Ceramics and other allied multinational companies in the area.
Artuk Bey, a character from the legendary and highest grossed Turkish movie (Ertegrul) is right when he said that “being visionary is expected of those that lead others because the followers only see the road but are sure of arriving at a destination if led by worthy leaders”, through Hon. Lawal’s vision we are sure of arriving at a destination. Through that same vision, Insecurity has been reduced to a manageable percentage and the cases of people dying as a result of hunger are a thing of the past because of the availability of companies that offer employment to the skilled and unskilled.
The relationship between Hon. Lawal and his constituents are built on trust and confidence that propaganda cannot defeat.