This is being promoted as a bid by the Ekiti State government to ensure that Ekiti youths are trained to be self-reliant and look beyond government patronage, and to also prove that, aside education, developing unskilled Ekiti youths does not warrant only sending them overseas for training.
The idea was floated by Hon. (Dr.) STB Omotoso, Ekiti State House of Assembly Member-elect (Oye 1 Constituency, PDP) during a courtesy visit by Ekiti State Assembly Members-elect to the corporate head office of Vanguard Media Ltd, Kirikiri, Apapa, Lagos, on Wednesday last week.
Hon. Omotosho, while condemning critics of Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State for their criticisms of what has come to be termed “stomach infrastructure”, said such criticisms give the concept a narrow definition as it goes beyond giving gifts of bags of rice and other foodstuff to voters to influence their choice.
“Stomach infrastructure is narrowly defined by critics of Governor Fayose”, Hon. Omotosho said. “It is not all about just feeding people or giving gifts to people. If one should expatiate on the concept, it entails providing the people not only with the basic necessities of life after election, but also empowering them by making them self-reliant, with the best education and training and then giving them employment, which the Fayose government is presently engaged in.”
Speaking further, the lawmaker-elect said the Ekiti State government did not need to waste scarce resources sending Ekiti unskilled youths to Europe or America for training. “Instead, they could be sent to Aba to learn how to make shoes and bags, and to Onitsha to master trade; while those who are qualified and competent will be given local contracts. This is the concept behind the so-called ‘stomach infrastructure’ and not just distributing gift items. Stomach infrastructure goes on after election. It is about helping the poor. It is about engaging them in what can feed them earn a living.
That’s what Fayose wants to continue doing. He needs stability to achieve for no progress can be made during crisis. We have had enough crisis and we want peaqce in our state.”
Aba, well known for its handicrafts, is reputed for its handmade shoes and handbags. It is also a major manufacturing and trading centre in South-Eastern Nigeria, with its Ariaria International Market as the largest market in West Africa, seconded by the Onitsha Main Market.
And Onitsha is known for its trading, where the average traders are known to bring in at least six consignments of 40 tonnes (40-feet containers) of goods annually. Some of the major importers do more than 20 consignments of 40 tonnes of goods per year.
Interestingly, the multi-billion dollar economies of both commercial towns are dominated by craftsmen and merchants many of whom do not have university education, but rely on apprenticeship to cut their teeth in the trades before going on their own.
It will be recalled that “stomach infrastructure” crept into Nigeria’s political lexicon following the 2014 Ekiti State governorship election when voters were given gifts of bags of rice and other foodstuff by office contenders to influence their choice. Both Fayose and Fayemi, the then governor gave out gifts. But Fayose’s became so prominent that it was believed to have led to his victory.
Fayose sending Ekiti youths to Aba and Onitsha in furtherance of his stomach infrastructure will be a move which is believed will enjoy the backing of the incoming Ekiti State House of Assembly, as all 26 members-elect were elected on PDP ticket, like the governor.
The youths, according to the said plan, are expected to return to Ekiti State after completing their apprenticeship, to re-enact the Aba and Onitsha phenomenon in their home state.
Culled from vanguard