By Emmanuel Elebeke
THE 16th edition of National Productivity Order of Merit, NPOM, Award has come and gone, but the echoes may not be forgotten in a hurry as President Buhari through Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, Ministers of Labour and Productivity, Mines and Steel, Senator Chris Ngige and Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and Acting Chairman of NPOM,Ikechi Uko, stressedthe importance of higher productivity by Nigerians in the nation’s drive to overcome her present economic recession.
President Mohammadu Buhari, while delivering his keynote address at the event described the awards as well deserving to the recipients for standing out in their various efforts and contributions to the advancement of the nation.
President Buhari said the choice of this year’s theme: Productivity for Sustainable Enterpreneurship and Employment” was apt and timely considering the present economic realities, noting that the importance of productivity and entrepreneurship in stemming the tide of unemployment and in boosting the economy could not be overemphasized.
According to the president: “Our economy is no doubt currently facing serious challenges. Before now, the economy had been purely monolithic having relied solely on oil as its major source of revenue. The dwindling oil prices and the disruption in supply occasioned by the insecurity in the Niger Delta have further made us realize the urgent need for diversification of our economy with emphasis on sectors that will improve employment prospects for our young people. The Agriculture and industries sectors have therefore been our focus.”
“Nigeria’s current youth employment crisis has been attributed to lack of job, skills and experience. I am happy to note that the inclusion of entrepreneurship education in the NYSC programme will enable the corps members to acquire skills in specific areas of interest. Government will speed up the process of formulation and implementation of strategies which will help the process of doing business in Nigeria. We shall make business environment more conducive for local business to thrive while also attracting more investors to Nigeria. It is my hope that the entrepreneurs will take advantage of this environment to grow their businesses, create jobs and wealth for themselves in particular and the nation in general.”
He added that “the task before us is an onerous one, but if we can become more productive, we can set our economy once more on the path of sustainable growth and development that will guarantee Nigerians a higher and improved standard of living.
Improved standard of living
Without visible level of productivity in any nation, employment generation and creation cannot be guaranteed.”
Delivering the award lecture, Dr. Fayemi, among others, lamented the decay and poor quality of learning in the nation’s educational system, contending that it was largely responsible for the unemployability of Nigerian graduates.
He said: “Our education institutions must rise to the occasion. Many graduates are unemployable. Universities can end unemployment by making graduates knowledgeable that can match the needs of the employer.
“We need to spot more entrepreneurs and encourage them. The challenge is that our entrepreneurs are not rewarded. We need to establish meritocracy and ethics in our educational institutions to fight the monsters, if we must progress and enhance productivity.”
In his address, Ngige called on Nigerians to work harder to reverse the poor working ethics and productivity in their various areas of calling.
Uko in his remarks, explained that the selection process of the awardees was guided by 16 point performance criteria, which include: job performance, expertise, expertise, dedication, creativity, initiative, responsibility, leadership quality among others, while that of corporate organizations was based on an 8-point criteria among which are local sourcing of raw materials, employment generation, staff training, profitability, capacity utilization, CSR, acclaimed breakthroughs among others.
Award recipients: The award was bestowed on 15 deserving individuals and five corporate organizations for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the development of Nigeria.
They include: Prof. Ibrahim Njodi; Mrs. Mary Ibikunle; Dr. Kabiru Aliyu; Mr. Olubola Aikulola; Mr. Idi Maleh; Mrs. Elizabeth Igelegbai; Mr. Aminu Bisalla; Mrs. SAratu Azi; Prof. Mohammed Abdulkadir; and Dr. Yemi Kale. Others are: Comrade Mike Okeme; Prof. Ukandi Damachi; Engr. Emeka Okwuosa; Prof. OKey Mbonu and Engr. Kashim Ali for the individual category.In the corporate category, the recipients are: Fidson Healthcare Plc, Lagos; Olam Nigeria ltd; Friesland Campina Wamco Nigeria Ltd; Nigeria Bottling Company Ltd and Chicason Group.