Okowa’s 6,000 Jobs In Six Months

BY FIDELIS EGUGBO DELTA
State Governor, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa promised Deltans prosperity during his electioneering campaigns. Few weeks after his emergence, he has proved that he had a blue print of what he intends to do before he made that promise as he has rolled out programmes that will ensure 6,000 direct jobs for Deltans.
This is a welcome development and many unemployed youths and their parents heaved a sigh of relief when the governor said it was not a Greek gift, but that forms are already out for prospective individuals who desire the job.
The governor who seems to be in haste, not only to ensure prosperity for all Deltans but to ensure speedy development of the state, despite the harsh economic situation of the country, also said that his guiding principles in all that he is doing are fairness, equity, transparency and accountability.
His plan for 6,000 direct jobs is also a clear departure from situations where politicians hijack the process as he has put measures in place such that all the wards in the state will benefit from the programme. The form though can be downloaded online, must be submitted through the royal fathers in the different local government areas of the state.
With this initiative, the governor has increased the relevance of the traditional institution in our polity and again, the jobs will not be hijacked by the political class: known Deltans will be direct beneficiaries and the jobs will get to the people at the grassroot.
During a consultative forum with commodity and farmers’ cooperative societies on the modalities for benefitting from the state government’s empowerment programmes three days ago in Asaba, Governor Okowa warned that security operatives would move against any fake beneficiary of the programme. He specifically said that those
who apply to benefit from the programmes must be sincere and committed to ensuring that the end results of the programmes are achieved.
To the governor, it will amount to a criminal offencse for a farmer or a cooperative society to procure a tractor from government at a heavily discounted rate of 40 per cent and resell such without putting it to use for what it was meant; or procure fertilizer at a discounted rate and sell same to others. It was a clear message of if you don’t have need for it, don’t deprive others who have genuine need for it because of your access to those giving them out.
“We need to be very sincere in our approach to the issue of empowerment; there is nothing that is as bad as having a good programme which did not work out because people are not sincere. We want true farmers, not political farmers, we want to give support to those who really need them.
We do not want a situation where an association gets a tractor and sells it, we will use security operatives to go after those who will do such, people who will sabotage government programmes will be prosecuted,” the governor warned.
Earlier in the week, he had said the 6,000 direct jobs would come through six schemes: 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 schemes to chairmen and members of the Traditional Rulers Council in the state, Governor Okowa 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. We are determined and poised to deliver prosperity to everyone in Delta through our SMART agenda, and it is on that note that we are launching these job creation schemes.”
“We want to take advantage of our revered traditional institutions 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 governor who was represented at the meeting by his Deputy, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro said.
The Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee on job creation and Commissioner, Dr. Kingsley Emu, explained during the meeting 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 on 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, subsidised 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 organisations. Dr. Emu advised artisans to organise 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.”
There is no doubt that these are laudable programmes that will stand the test of time. It is important for Deltans to key into the programmes by being sincere in knowing what they want and going for programmes that will better their lives and make the society a progressive and prosperous one.
Above all, the governor should not be forgotten in their prayers for God to make the programmes to succeed and ensure a peaceful and united state where every Deltan sees the other as his brother or sister without recourse to ethnic divides