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NEPAD moves to curb unemployment among Nigerian youths

Trains 500 women, youths in Awka

By Vincent Ujumadu

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD, an economic development programme of the African Union, AU, adopted at the 37th Session of the assembly of the heads of state and governments in July 2001in Lusaka, Zambia, has begun a training programme aimed at curbing unemployment among youths and women in the South-East geopolitical zone.

Dr. Ini Irua, African Finance Corporation; Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, President, African Business Roundtable and Chairman NEPAD Business Group Africa; Mr. Goodie Ibru, Chairman, NEPAD Business Group Nigeria and Chief (Dr) Nike Akade, Director at the NEPAD Business Group Nigeria Capacity Building Retreat held in Lagos

The two-week training programme, which kicked off in Awka, Anambra State with about 500 participants, was part of the Zonal Intervention for Constituency Programme being sponsored by the Federal Government through NEPAD.

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National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, Princess Gloria Akobundu, who spoke through the Director in charge of Programmes Development and Implementation, Mr. Emmanuel Abang told the participants that the greatest gift one could have in life is skill/knowledge and urged them to take the training seriously.

According to him, the participants, who were carefully selected from all the political wards in the zone, were being trained in bead-making, hat-making, catering, confectionaries, shoe and bag- making, as well as tie and dye.

Abang said the problem of youth unemployment in Nigeria was one in which available statistics revealed that it could only be addressed through a well thought out programme of skills acquisition, adding that it was to ameliorate the situation that made NEPAD design a training programme to equip young Nigerians with skills that would help them create wealth and become self-reliant.

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“The Federal Government has made it a priority to empower youths and women and government, therefore, expects the trainees to take the programme seriously. This is because no matter how rich your parents or husbands are, you need to contribute towards the sustenance of your families,” Abang said.

He advised that after acquiring the skills, the trainees should form cooperative societies to enable them access loans from various financial institutions, including the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, the Bank of Industry, BoI, and Nigeria Agricultural Bank.

He added that with resource persons drawn from the various fields, the trainees were on the right path to becoming their own masters and take their destinies in their hands.

Abang added: “NEPAD is basically economic empowerment created under the office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, to essentially reduce poverty in the country through the training and empowerment of youths and women with interest in skills acquisitions.

“After offering skills training in various areas, NEPAD gives starter packs to its participants and do a follow-up with data available to ensure the success of the programme. Apart from the starter packs given to participants at the end of their training, NEPAD also encourages them to go into cooperatives in other to have easy access to loans from the banks.

“NEPAD is a socio-economic flagship programme of the African Union, which Nigerian government is not playing with at all because of its economic usefulness to the people of the country. With the four primary objectives of NEPAD, which are  to eradicate poverty, promote sustainable growth and development, integrate Africa in the world economy and accelerate the empowerment of the women and youths, the expectation is that unemployment in Nigeria will soon become a thing of the past.”

Mr. Valentine Ekpunobi, who learnt how to make shoes, believed that he had become well equipped to produce bags in commercial quantities, adding, however, that his only drawback was the capital to start with. Another trainee, Mrs. Amaka Ndianaefo went into jubilation when she was told that opportunities abound for her to secure loans from financial institutions to enable her to grow her business, having acquired the necessary skill on how to make beads and bags.

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Mr. Favour Nnaemeka, 17, said his grandmother encouraged him to go for the skills acquisition programme after his secondary school education, adding that he would put all that he learnt into use to help himself since his family does not have the resources to enable him further his education.

Mr. Arinze Orike, 28, said he was happy learning bead- making and promised to source for the fund to start his own business at the end of the training.

Miss Ijeoma Ameli, 21, said she is no longer interested in sitting for JAMB, adding that she would concentrate on acquiring various skills that would enable her to take care of her family.

Ameli, who explained that she had always had a passion for skills, appreciated NEPAD for introducing the programme and assured that with the starter pack which was promised them, she is set to go into full-time business.

The programme training coordinator, Mr Victor Eze expressed joy that the trainees were able to learn fast, adding that it showed the enthusiasm among Nigerians to make a living through handwork if encouraged.

The trainees went into wild jubilation when Senator Uche Ekwunife, who recently collected her certificate of return to represent Anambra Central in the 9th Senate, said her office would prepare a database for all the trained women and youths because they would be given start-up capital that would enable them to finance their businesses.

While urging them to take the training seriously, she observed that no matter the type of certificate acquired by any individual, such a certificate would be meaningless if it was not backed by any skill, hence the emphasis on skills acquisition by the Federal Government.

Miss Chidimma Akpata, chief officer of Adimma Concept, who was one of the resource persons described the objectives of NEPAD as laudable and enjoined other persons yet to embrace the programme, to do so without further delay.

According to Akpata, the era of brandishing certificates had gone because white collar jobs are hard to come by, noting that the in thing is for people to acquire skills that would make them live independent lives.

Explaining that every home needs to have someone with a skill to boost the family’s daily income, no matter the educational certificate acquired, Akpata said she was impressed at the number of participants who had shown reasonable interest to learn various skills.

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