Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday assured that his administration, through the Board of the Employment Trust Fund (ETF), has put in place a robust process of disbursing the N25 billion earmarked to provide succor for small scale businesses and people with innovative business ideas, just as he expressed optimism that the Fund would drastically reduce unemployment and ensure sustainable wealth creation.
Governor Ambode, who spoke at the Ikeja Airport Hotel in Lagos at the first Stakeholders’ Summit organized by the State’s Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, said the only criteria for accessing the fund is to be a resident in the State with marketable business idea, adding that there would not be discrimination based on colour, gender or creed.
The Governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr. (Mrs) Idiat Oluranti Adebule, said apart from the fact that credible and experienced Nigerians were appointed into the ETF Board, the entire process of accessing the fund has equally been designed to be “credible, transparent, accountable and not discriminate on account of gender, religion, physical ability or disability, political affiliation and socio-economic background.”
Both the ETF and the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment were created by the Ambode-led administration in the State, and they were designed to tackle unemployment with the sole mandate of reducing it to a barest minimum. Already, the yearly contribution of N6.25 billion for Year 2016 to the Fund has been released by the State Government, while the disbursement would kick-off in earnest.
Speaking on the summit with the theme: “Strengthening Partnership For Employment Opportunities and Wealth Creation in a Competitive Environment,” Governor Ambode said the summit was a platform initiated to generate ideas, harmonize strategies and device strong partnership for sustainable wealth creation.
While urging participants at the summit to come up with ideas and suggestion that would add value to the strategy guiding the design and implementation of sustainable programmes for harnessing the opportunities for job and wealth creation, the Governor assured that his administration would favourably consider the recommendations from stakeholders.
He added that his administration strongly believes in creating potential and innovative capacity for the youths, especially by providing support and creating conducive environment for the innovative ideas to thrive, thereby bringing about employment opportunities and sustainable wealth creation.
Besides, Governor Ambode said the economic challenges facing Nigeria as a result of dwindling revenue from crude oil, presents a unique opportunity to chart a new direction for sustainable economic growth, adding that part of it was what his administration has been to support the establishment and growth of small businesses to create job opportunities and generate wealth for the collective prosperity of all.
In his goodwill message, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo commended Governor Ambode for his laudable achievements in infrastructure renewal and security.
The Vice President, who was represented by the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, said infrastructure renewal and security were the necessary ingredients for sustainable wealth creation and generation of employment which equally are the basis for long term progress.
In her keynote address, Chairperson of the Lagos State ETF Board, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui Okaru said Nigeria must create about 1.5 million jobs quarterly to keep the number of unemployed people flat, adding that as a way out, there must be an effective collaboration between government and the private sector to come up with solutions.
Okaru, who lamented that many Nigerians were spending time to acquire certificates that are of no value, said the people must be encouraged to look around for opportunities and come up with innovative solutions to problems. She also advocated the need for order and discipline in the society, saying such would also go a long way in creating job opportunities.
Speaking on the ETF, Okaru said government would soon embark on disbursement of the fund, adding that at the moment the board was putting in place necessary foundation to build trust and credibility.