There was jubilation in Enugu on Thursday as 536 trainees of the second batch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Skill Acquisition Programme of the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration instantly received alert of N100,000 seed money each from the state government.
The money is to assist them start off their various businesses after attending a one-year free vocational training.
The 536 trainees were among the 750 participants chosen from the 17 Local Government Areas of the state and enrolled by the state government under its SDGs programme as an empowerment intervention scheme designed to alleviate the suffering of the people of the state through the learning of vocations that would enable each of them develop a career in life.
The first batch of 214 trainees, who had graduated after undergoing training in focal areas such as tailoring, hairdressing, haircut and aluminum works apprenticeship, were settled in September 2017, accordingly.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony in Enugu, which was attended by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, who was represented by her Sector Director, Yahaya Hamza, the federal government commended Governor Ugwuanyi “for being SDGs friendly and creating enabling environment for achieving the SDGs goals”.
Mrs. Orelope-Adefulire, who emphasized the importance of skills acquisition in the country for “economically self-reliant” diversification of the nation’s economy and encouragement of the youth to embrace self-employment, also thanked Governor Ugwuanyi for the state’s contributions and efforts towards the success of the programme as well as “this unique collaboration aimed at accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Enugu State and Nigeria.”
She therefore, announced that “approval has been granted to Enugu State for continuation of the skill acquisition programme to consolidate the success achieved by the Federal and Enugu State governments through the initiative” and called on other states to emulate Governor Ugwuanyi towards the realization of the SDGs goals for the overall benefit of the masses.
“I also want to encourage other states to borrow a leaf from Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi by ensuring that their plans and projects are targeted towards achieving the goals of SDGs so that our 2030 Agenda will be realized as a nation,” the SSA to the President said.
In his address, Governor Ugwuanyi, while congratulating the graduands on their achievement, said the scheme was “undoubtedly a very important and timely intervention that is helping to create wealth, reduce unemployment and stimulate productivity especially among our youths and women”.
The governor added that the scheme was a “welcome complement” to the efforts and initiatives of his administration in the area of youth/women empowerment, skills acquisition and poverty alleviation, stressing that it was also in furtherance of the progress recorded in other state’s empowerment programmes such as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the Enugu State Youth Enterprise Support Scheme (ENU-YESS), among others.
Governor Ugwuanyi expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for its continued support to the implementation of the SDGs in the state, and pledged the “continued cooperation and full commitment” of his administration to the success of the programme as well as other collaborations between the state and federal government designed for the benefit and empowerment of the people.
“I use this occasion to reassure the good people of Enugu State that we remain fully committed to our promise to reduce poverty in the state and will continue to do all that is necessary to promote the empowerment and economic emancipation of our youths, women and families,” Mr. Ugwuanyi said.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Special Adviser to the Governor on SDGs and Inter-Ministerial Affairs, Mabel Agbo, noted that the empowerment programme was part of the four-point agenda of the state government, explaining that “what we are doing today does not only create employment, but helps to reduce crime and other social vices by keeping the individual meaningfully engaged in an economically productive venture.”
Ms. Agbo maintained that she was satisfied with the level of proficiency attained by the graduands, adding that a good number of them were able to demonstrate that they acquired the capacity to compete favourably in any environment.
She disclosed that many of the first batch graduands “have been able to set up viable barbing and hair dressing shops and were now chief executive officers of their own businesses”, and encouraged the newly graduated trainees to be dedicated, productive and utilize the seed money to actualize their potentials in keeping with the set objectives of the scheme.
“To the graduands, I want to say congratulations for acquiring new skills and knowledge. We have basically armed you with the tools to succeed in life. In the last one year, you went through the rudiments of a profession you chose. We have no doubt that you are now better equipped and prepared to face the world, and in a better frame of mind too. I encourage you to hit the road running because anytime lost cannot be regained,” Ms. Agbo said.
Other dignitaries at the event, which was electrified with uncontrollable jubilation the moment the graduands started receiving alerts of the seed money on their telephones, were the state’s Deputy Governor, Cecilia Ezeilo; the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Edward Ubosi and other members of the House; State Executive Council (EXCO) members; Chairmen of the 17 Local Government Areas, Traditional Rulers, among others.