* Youth must however enlist in RivJob portal to be picked
By Codratus Godson
Chief Nabil Saleh, who late last year emerged president of the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), has outlined new strategies for massive creation in Rivers State.
The chief, a naturalized Nigerian, told BusinessDay in an exclusive interview in Port Harcourt that every city chamber tries to align itself with the aspirations of its host city as well as joins to fight the threats of the city.
For now, he said, unemployment is the greatest threat in Rivers State and finding jobs for the teaming youth population is a big task for everyone; adding that this was the cardinal objective of his candidature while coming into office.
On what specific steps PHCCIMA can take to fight unemployment and create jobs in the state, the CEO of M-Saleh group said: “You know that I as PHCCIMA president am chairman of the Rivers Roundtable for Job Creation which is a project coordinated by the Ministry of Employment. The Organised Private Sector (OPS) in the state are partnering with the Ministry of Employment to mount workshops and roundtable for the business community in Rivers State to see how we can create employment for the youths.
“For us to achieve this, it must be a team work with relevant sectors including the OPS, the Government (public sector), the high chiefs and monarchs, and including the local government chairmen. All hands have to be on deck. The government knows that business operators cannot come and invest if you do not create the right environment. They are aware that creating good business environment translates to creating jobs. In this era, entrepreneurship is the best option to achieve this because that is the surest way to create jobs in reasonable volume and we have to train the youths and make them entrepreneurs. When you do this, you have created more jobs.”
He said this must be done by different sectors coming together to tackle this job creation drive. If this is consistently done, there would be massive jobs in Rivers State in the next five years.
On the need for database to guide in this effort, Saleh pointed at the establishment of the RivJob portal by the Rivers State Government which he termed a meeting point of the public and private sectors for recruitment. “Our members know that if any of them needs a worker, you contact RivJob to send you their details or curriculum vitae (CV). So, job seekers are encouraged to send in their CVs to the Ministry. If our youths do not send in their CVs, how would the government and OPS know about them?”
He lamented thus; “Most of our graduates need go and put their CVs in RivJob. You cannot stay in your house and keep your certificate while you are asking the Ministry to help you find a job. First step is to file in your CV, and wait for contacts. This is where employers go to pick workers. Our members are taking people from there. People there are getting jobs. There are different sectors in the PHCCIMA and they are picking people from there.”
Chief Saleh said street traders and other groups complaining of harassment must articulate their complaints and present them formally through their unions for attention, though they may not be members of PHCCIMA. “Traders must have a union to present their matter by collaborating with PHCCIMA. If they cannot reach the police or the government, they can come to PHCCIMA as a union and we are ready to assist them or give them advice. This is applicable to any business group, not just traders.”
On transformation now going on in PHCCIMA and how groups would follow up for benefits, the M-Saleh CEO said a platform for members has been created for interaction real time. “There are associate members such as fast food association, shippers, stock brokers, etc. Next, we have created a one-stop-shop which is not for PHCCIMA members alone but for all private businesses.”
He further explained the impact thus: “For instance, we have brought some critical agencies of government hitherto not in Rivers State now to Port Harcourt by creating office space and equipment for them at the PHCCIMA secretariat. In the entire south-south, NEXIM Bank was only found in Calabar (Cross River State). Imagine how someone in Rivers State or the other states would have to drive to Calabar to meet them.
“Now, NEXIM Bank is coming once a month to Port Harcourt to operate at the one-stop-shop facility in PHCCIMA. Anyone who needs their services can come to the Garrison area on Aba Road in Port Harcourt. The Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPCo) is only in Enugu. If you wanted to transact an important business with them, you faced hazards. You could get to Enugu and hear that one document needed for the transaction is not complete, so you drive back, burning fuel, time, hotel bill, etc. Now, now they come once a month to the PHCCIMA.
“The Rivers State Ministry of Commerce now has a desk in PHCCIMA to attend to those who find it difficult to go to the State Secretariat to deal with transactions and inquiries.”
The president observed that several walls or barriers have been erected over the years against business operators but that there is need to begin to dismantle them. “We need to break those walls for the private sector to move faster. Some of these agencies run huge cost setting up offices but with the office provided by PHCCIMA, those problems would reduce cost especially power supply. Most of these agencies serve only the private sector; so, without us they will not exist”.
Chief Saleh said he expects a boon in the business sector and attendant job opportunities in the next five years in Rivers State.