Worried that Nigeria is now faced with hard times occasioned by recession, there is the need for the country to harness the various skills that abound in its youth.
The Minister for Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, stated this in Umuahia on the occasion of the graduation of 472 people under the state’s Education for Employment pilot project as well as the launching of its Job portal.
According to Sen. Ngige, the nation’s curriculum is tailored towards white-collar jobs, stating that today in Nigeria, nobody needs to tell us that we are in hard times. We went into recession because nobody planned for tomorrow especially with the kind of training we give o our children.
He said Nigeria now produce children who go through the university and the university did not go through them, hence producing graduates who cannot work with their certificates, stating also “we are going for white pan because of white-collar job, while skilled people make money while on duty.
What happened in Abia, he said, is a beginning of new dawn, expressing happiness that the skills and the opportunities are there.
We must start thinking because things are no longer well for our children”, he said, noting that the state has the highest arable land that is lying waste and which is ready to be cultivated.
He posited that the states in the country should be given the opportunity to be on their own “so that there will be competition amongst them”, hence the need for power devolution in the country which he noted some people are afraid of.
People are afraid of devolution and confuse it with resource control, but it is developing yourself. Nigeria does not need idle hands as such insurgents which are as a result of idleness, he said, stating that the country must give its graduates adequate skills and equip them.
Nigeria is ready such that after the skill acquisition, we will equip them”, he said, disclosing that the Federal Government has concluded plans to match-make skills with employment opportunities, adding that the Federal Government will partner with the state to realise this.
He used the opportunity to advise the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, to tap into such Federal Government programmes as NDE and N-Power, regretting that in the past phase of the N-power, the state recorded poor participation as only 16000 registered, while Bauchi recorded about 44000.
In his speech, the state Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, said the education agenda was captured in his five pillars of development and is also an enabler.
The state governor said Abia has the highest depository of skills in Nigeria, stating that efforts to industrialise the state is ongoing as the state among others has acquired 9000 hectares of land at Ukwa for that purpose.
He expressed his desire to see the graduands working in industrial clusters as the engines to drive areas and the various ICT centres that will spring up there.
He also disclosed that his administration has concluded plans to set up care-givers centres for the elder citizens aged 70 and above, while stating that 170 persons will be recruited to man the 17 centres that would be set up at the 17 LGAs of the state.
In his goodwill message, representatives of NABTEB and NBTE described the graduands as the potential “Bill Gates” and thanked the state for being a trail blazer in putting back the students to work.
They urged governors in the country to embrace technical education as a way of equipping the nation’s youths with viable skills.
Also speaking, the MD/CEO of Innoson Group of Companies, Chief (Dr.) Innocent Chukwuma, described the programme as the foundation and as the only way for the young ones to grow and be leaders of tomorrow, stating “today is still good as when you have a foundation like this, youths will grow”.
According to the representative of the CEO of Dangote group, Joe Makoju, the group will by 2019 create 250,000 jobs through its $20 million investment in many for areas, aimed at diversifying the economy and urged the graduands not to entertain any fears of the future as the programme will equip them with the right skills to succeed.
For the senator representing Abia North Senatorial District, Mao Ohuabunwa, the programme is a revolution in ICT as the nation cannot develop without it.
Speaking with newsmen later, Coordinator of the Abia State Education for Employment Programme, Endi Ezengwa, said the programme will also train 50 people on “Abia Care” from its database with over 36000 applicants for the care of the elderly.