The Delta State administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has made good its promise to hit the ground running, when it rolled out a comprehensive proramme of six entrepreneurship schemes with an assurance that 6,000 direct jobs would be created in the next six months as a result of the scheme.
The schemes, which were unveiled by the Delta State Governor, represented by his Deputy Governor, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro on Monday June 29 2015 are, the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP), Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP); Production and Processing Support Programme (PPSP); Tractorisation; Extension of Loans; and Development of Agro-industries.
Unveiling the programmes before chairman and members of the Traditional Rulers Council in the state, Governor Okowa, speaking through his deputy, said “these initiatives will create jobs and wealth, diversify the economy, engage youths in productive enterprises, nurture entrepreneurs and leaders, and promote communal peace and security,” adding that the Government “is determined and poised to deliver prosperity to everyone in Delta through our SM.A.R.T agenda, and it is on that note that we are launching these job creation schemes.”
Governor Okowa explained that the meeting with the traditional rulers was to get them acquainted with government’s job creation programmes as key stakeholders and partners with the government. According to the Governor, “we want to take advantage of our revered traditional institution to ensure that beneficiaries are sons and daughters of our communities so that we can maximize the gains of all that we are putting into the programmes.”
The royal palaces, he disclosed, will serve as centres for collection and submission of the forms for interested participants in any of the schemes. Although the forms can also be accessed and downloaded online, he said the recourse to the traditional rulers to assist in the distribution and collation of the forms was to allay any fears of political marginalization as the royal fathers are non-partisan.
Briefing the gathering on the critical operations and processes of the schemes, the Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee on job creation and Commissioner-Designate, Dr Kingsley Emu, explained that under the YAGEP scheme, participants across the 25 local government areas would be screened and selected by a team of consultants after which they would undergo one month training at Songhai Farms for life skills, attitudinal change, and hands on management. The areas of focus, Emu said, are piggery, poultry, fisheries, and vegetable farming. He revealed that upon completion of the training the participants would proceed on a one-month internship after which they will be given starter packs to start their own farms.
The Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP), he said, was meant to equip youths with vocational and technical skills in computer hardware and phone repairs, sewing, plumbing, tiling, electrical installation, POP, catering and confectionaries, events management, among others. The objective of the PPSP, according to Emu, was to increase production capacity of existing farmers and the quality of produce through best practice. Beneficiaries will be granted “micro credit through available financing windows, subsidized bulldozers, tractors implements, chemicals, and high quality seeds.” Participants/beneficiaries would also be selected from across the 25 local government areas through direct stakeholder consultation with farmers’ representatives, and other relevant organizations.
Dr. Emu advised artisans to organize themselves into cooperative societies to enable them access the “micro credit and agricultural loans with liberal repayment terms in line with the extant microcredit programme.” He disclosed that the Committee, in collaboration with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA) and Ministry of Commerce and Industry, would identify and select beneficiary groups within a few weeks; give necessary orientation to selected groups on microcredit management; and disburse the loans as soon as the process is completed.”
Traditional rulers who spoke at the occasion lauded the state government initiatives in ensuring transparency in the job creation process, and while offering royal insight and seeking clarifications on ways through which the schemes can be further energized, assured that their people would participate actively in the programmes and justify the trust which the state government has reposed in the traditional institutions by making them central to the success of the job creation schemes.