By Hassan Mijinyawa
The Proramme of skills acquisition under the administration of Arc Darius Dickson Ishaku is of strategic significance, considering the mounting challenges of unemployment in our time.
Coupled with social ills such as criminality and prostitution among women and youths, it is inevitable to give skills acquisition great primacy. Moreover, the restiveness of youths has given every serious government cause to tackle the vermin headlong.
This is not by happenstance, but Governor Ishaku has planned it carefully right from the outset and it formed part of the Rescue
Agenda of his administration. Indeed, upon coming into office in less than two weeks precisely on the 10 June 2015, Governor Ishaku initialled a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bank of Industries (BOI) for N700 Million, with the bank providing N350 Million, while the Taraba State Government provided half of the amount under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSE).
On 4 April, 2016, government disbursed the money to beneficiaries of cooperative societies. It was an indication that the administration was preparing for a greater programme that would further impact women and youth to reduce unemployment in the Taraba landscape.
The administration moved swiftly by setting up institutional structures known as the Grassroots Team and the Rescue Team Watch to combine with relevant Ministries like the Rescue Team Watch to combine with relevant Ministries like Cooperative and Poverty Alleviation and Education to give impetus to the actualization of the programme.
The Grassroots Matters Team comprises of a Special Adviser and two Senior Special Assistants coordinated by the Special Adviser (Manifesto Implementation) who collates and consolidates monthly reports for submission to the Executive Governor.
Because it is an effective representative of government at the grassroots, it conducts a monthly Town Hall Meeting, organized in one electoral ward to another of the 168 wards of the 16 local governments and Yangtu and Ngada Special Development Areas of the State.
Driven by the desire to reposition the State, Governor Ishaku in addressing the people of Taraba said, “This administration will strive to create and maintain an enabling environment conducive for the optimal participation and sustainable engagement of key stakeholders and partners. It will develop a sensitive and responsible political class, a vibrant and purpose-driven bureaucracy, a veritable resource base, and a robust broad-based economy.
“In line with this promise, the empowerment of Women and Youth assumed a centre stage. Scanning through the 168 wards, it chose in its first phase 336 youths to train in tailoring, shoemaking, soap making and woodcraft. Other training areas are carpentry, weaving, welding, hairdressing and computer studies.
The philosophy behind this, the governor explained, was “our resolve through the Rescue Agenda to embark on aggressive and deliberate measures to reduce the rate of unemployment among our teeming youths.” Government voted enough money for trainers and trainees as well as securing starter packs to give beneficiaries a head start in the market by enabling them to be instant employers of labour.
During the graduation of the 1st Batch of the Skills Acquisition and the inauguration of the 2nd batch trainees under the post Secondary Schools Youths Empowerment Programme of the Peter Akintola Youth Centre for Industrial Training, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Governor Ishaku was full of excitement. “When we came on board on the 29 May, 2015,” he said, “we did promise the people of Taraba State of our resolve to reduce unemployment.
“We made it clear that we will achieve that through the provision of skills acquisition training programmes for the youth because of our strong belief that it is better to teach people how to catch fish and make them self-reliant than to be giving them fish always.”
Governor Ishaku then proceeded to explain that the set of trainees, who were 51, received training in Information Communication Technology, Fashion and Design, Electrical, Catering and Tourism, Tiling and concreting as well as Metal Fabrication.
He said his administration expended the sum of N265,000 on each of the trainee, which covered the cost of feeding, accommodation and hospital bills for the eight months the training lasted and that each received N5,000 monthly for pocket money. It was a remarkable investment as the beneficiaries earned Trade Test 3, 2 and one certificates of the National Board for Technical education, NABTEB, London City of Guild and the German Cooperative certificates.
It was a commitment of the trainees, which made Governor Ishaku proud as most of the certificates have recognition internationally in the job market.
The State Government provided Starter packs valued at millions of naira to enable them to have a head start in the job market. Perceiving the significance of the gesture, Commissioner of Education, Johanness Jigem pointedly warned, “At this juncture I want to sound a note of warning to the trainees, who are beneficiaries of Government magnanimity of this kind.
Do not be personae non grata by selling off these packs given to you at ridiculous prices for quick gain and personal gratification and self-aggrandizement.
My dear beneficiaries the only way you can show your gratitude to the government and the good people of Taraba, is to create at least ten jobs in the next three years. By so doing, you are making government to incest more in this direction”.
Although this sounded like a tall order, Jigem was frank as he was upbeat by lauding the efforts of Taraba State Government under the able leadership of Arc Darius Ishaku, Captain of the rescue mission, “for the giant rescue stride in the educational sector and youth empowerment, which has culminated in the distribution of this starter packs today”.
Also, during the graduation of the 1st and 2nd Batches and the flag off of the 3rd Batch of youths and women empowerment skills acquisition programmes, the Commissioner of the Ministry of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation, Abba Akawu Zagha said his Ministry collaborated with the Rescue Watch Team in September, 2017.
Through the approval of Governor Ishaku they organized, trained and graduated 335 people in various skills. Giving a breakdown, he said the beneficiaries came from across the state and received training in nine different trades, adding that most of them are performing creditably well. Zagha said the 2nd batch had 448 youths and women trained in 16 different trades, while the 3rd batch is to train 600 youths and women drawn equally from all parts of the stat, again in 16 trades. Taraba State government has voted enough funds for this programme to succeed.
This gesture is unprecedented in the annals of any administration in Taraba State. The Darius Ishaku Administration has given the people of Taraba State a cause to be proud, responsible and responsive citizens.
However, tribe and religion may differ, in peace and unity we must resolve to remain to help the Rescue Captain Governor Ishaku to make Taraba State remarkably great.
Mijinyawa is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor