By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
THE 20,000 young men and women gathered at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan this last Thursday bubbled with enthusiasm. Not even the scorching morning heat of the sun could dampen the eagerness with which they rushed to pass through the security check into the stadium.
For many of them it was their first day in regular employment. Inside the stadium, the gathering of fresh cadets as they were called, huddled together making a spectacle with the prescribed white T-shirt on which was printed YES-O. That is the acronym of the Youth Empowerment Scheme for Oyo State.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s bold initiative in creating 20,000 new jobs was for the many young university and secondary school graduates a salutary effort in lifting them from the scourge of unemployment that many had until this December been sentenced to.
Ajimobi was as such on target with his assertion that day that “the YES-O is projected to give the employed a sense of belonging,” which he said would provide a resource base for the state in other areas of need.
Among those who were gathered to witness the launch of the Youth Employment Scheme of Oyo (YES-O) were politicians, royalty and leading lights of the government at the state and local levels.
The scheme according to officials of the State Government is aimed at providing a pool from which other personnel resources for the state would be derived. Each of the 20,000 cadets as they are dubbed are entitled to an allowance of N10,000 monthly irrespective of qualification.
From the pool of 20,000 the state administration is expected to draw teachers and other professional hands that would be drawn into the state civil service at the appropriate salary levels based on qualification, an official of the state administration disclosed.
The inauguration of the scheme last Thursday followed days of planning by a team led by the state’s deputy Governor, Chief Moses Adeyemo. In a welcome address at the inauguration Adeyemo said the scheme was conceived with five main objectives, to wit: (a) Reduction of youth unemployment through intervention employments and skill acquisition;
(b) Reduction and elimination of crime among unemployed youths; (c) Enhancement of the rapid socio-economic developments of the State;
(d) Inculcating in the youth the passion to learn one vocational skill or the other;
(e) Exposing participants to opportunities to acquire entrepreneurship skills.
Remarkably, Adeyemo in his speech affirmed that the selection of the 20,000 pioneer cadets was meritorious.
“We discountenanced primordial sentiments and political party affiliations in the selection of the 20,000 youths who constitute the cadet of our YES-O scheme. The selection process, rigorous and painstaking, was devoid of bias, prejudices and personal preferences. Aware that excellence is the watchword of this administration, our committee looked for excellence in our selection.”
However, the claim that partisan political considerations were discountenanced in the recruitment of the cadets was repeatedly doubted at the inauguration with the proclamations of the slogans of ACN, the ruling party in the state.
Prior to launching the scheme with a ceremonial cutting of a tape, Governor Ajimobi who was escorted to the Liberty Stadium venue by his wife had given the thrust of his administration in using it as a platform to reduce unemployment and at the same time boosting the entrepreneurial capacity of youths in the state.
“The YES-O is just a minute spectrum of our youth empowerment scheme. We intend to engage the youth of this state in productive ventures that will take them away from crime and other destructive ventures. We do not want youth to be seen as a curse to our children but one to be relished and savoured.”
“The Youth Empowerment Scheme is our response to the acute unemployment problem of our society. It was established as an avenue for provision of jobs and training of our youth in cognitive and entrepreneurial skills that would in turn make them productive agents of change in the state’s economy.”
“The YES-O initiative is divided into two parts. The first, which is what we are inaugurating today, has as its major component, the involvement of our youth in the area of environmental sanitation and beautification, sensitization and enforcement of traffic rules, provision of support in emergency situations in the state, maintenance of public infrastructure and farming in the state farm settlement.”
“The second prong of the youth empowerment scheme will involve the training of these same youth in cognitive and entrepreneurial skills, while those with requisite capacity would then advance forward in being made to be given opportunities in government’s micro-credit scheme as entrepreneurs.”
Noting that the success of the scheme would be a worthy testimonial of his administration, he said:
“You are not only ambassadors of this administration, you are our own Marines. Like the Marines in America, you embody and typify all the good projections of this administration. We expect that, as our exports to the rest of the world, you will be apostles and change agents that our administration sermonizes to the whole world.”