By Christiana Onuoha (Abuja), and Nwachukwu Cynthia Chinonso (Umuahia)
Apparently, job creation is the most effective elixir to the menace of unemployment. And there is no doubt that unemployment is a major contributor to social vices world over.
In Nigeria, the frightening consequences of the high level of unemployment especially among the youths is overwhelming.
While the call by many in different fora for governments (Federal and States) to make job creation a priority seems to be an impossible task, the Governor of Abia State Okezie Ikpeazu, no doubt thinks otherwise.
Considering the pace at which he engage Abia youths in both federal and state employment oriented programs, his ingenuity at advantageously turning a every available opportunity to a job creation avenue is evidently appealing.
From his vibrant campaign and marketing of made-in-aba products which has successfully provided hundreds of youths in the state with jobs, to other numerous employment inclined programs he ensures Abia youths are well participating in, it is obvious he is structurally building the needed foundation that would change the economic and social wellbeing of the citizens.
Speaking of his knack for job creation, Governor Ikpeazu, on Thursday, June 11, 2019, flagged off Abia State Youth Employment and Social Support Operations (YESSO) program at the International Conference Center, Umuahia, with 3,863 Public Workfare (PWF) and Skills for Job (S4J) beneficiaries.
YESSO is a world bank assisted program anchored through the federal government with Abia being the last qualifying state of the scheme and the only participating state in the South East Nigeria. Note that only states with existing Human Resources development project are qualified to participate in the program.
Recall that in September 2015, the Governor launched a program; Education for Employment (E4E) Scheme aimed at equipping Abia youths with skills. Precisely, E4E was fashioned to equip participants with technical skills that helped them become drivers of employment of the new industrial growth agenda of the state.
Successful, the program graduated many youths who were trained on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills and deployed to relevant work place within Abia.
Learnt of the humongous financial requirement for the effective sustenance of the E4E program, which includes stipends paid to trainees, Governor Ikpeazu directed the managers of the scheme to think outside the box in sourcing for funds to ensure smooth running of the program.
Prior to the Governor’s directive, the managers of E4E program, led by UK-trained Human Resources management expert, Chief Endi Ezengwa, engaged relevant World Bank officials to support the program, being the only existing human
resources development program in the South East.
With the work already done by Governor Ikpeazu using the E4E program, the World Bank readily approved the extension of YESSO program to Abia State as the last state in Nigeria to benefit before the end of its first phase.
Using the existing Abia State Single Social Register, a list of 3,863 participants were incorporated into the program from across the 3 senatorial zones of the state with expectations that further 6 months skills training in partnership with National Directorate of Employment (NDE), would be done for 4000 graduates.
Governor Ikpeazu at the epoch event, emphasized that his administration among other developmental programs, is seriously focused on job creation. He therefore advised beneficiaries to maximize the benefits of the training and strive to make the best from the opportunity.
In her remarks, the National Coordinator YESSO, Mrs. Hajara Sami, said that YESSO is an operation which was restructured in 2017 with additional finances of a hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) to address the effects of insurgency in the North East.
While she noted that YESSO signifies a commencement of support for unemployed youths with low educational level from poor and vulnerable homes who will be benefitting from a monthly stipend of seven thousand five hundred Naira (N7, 500) through the Public Work Fare (PWF) scheme for the next one year, she praised Governor Ikpeazu for being resolute on issues that concern the poor and vulnerable in the society, as well as for providing the enabling environment for the initiative and prayed for its effective sustenance.
Also, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. Rita Okengwu, represented by Mrs Hope Nwosu, said the initiative is a life changing project that will impact positively on the downtrodden and seeks to reach out to 3, 863 beneficiaries across six (6) Local Government Areas representing the three (3) geo-political zones of the State namely: Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South, Ohafia, Umunneochi, Ugwunagbo and Ukwa East.
She charged the beneficiaries to take their training seriously, as the payment of their monthly stipends depends largely on their attendance.
The Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Ikechi Mgbeoji, encouraged the people of Abia State to join hands with the government to take the state to greater heights as already envisioned by the state Governor.