By PHILIP IKPONKO, Abuja
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, today in Abuja commended the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) for training over 400,000 in skills acquisition programmes, describing the agency as one of the changes President Muhammade Buhari promised Nigerians in 2015.
Prof Osinbajo who was Special Guest of Honour at the graduation and distribution of start-up packs to 11,000 trainees of the 2018 National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP) of the ITF, called on Nigerian youths to embrace skills acquisition programme of the Fund.
The Vice President, who was represented at the ceremony by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, assured that the Federal Government would continue to encourage the ITF to be training more Nigerians in vocational trades.
He also encouraged comatose Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to wake up and emulate the Fund.
The ceremony was held at the Musa Shehu Yar’adua Centre in Abuja, with a call on the Federal Government to consider giving financial assistance to graduates of the programme to practice what they were taught.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce, Trade and Industry, Senator Sam Egwu, who made the call while speaking at the graduation ceremony, argued that there was no point in training people in skills acquisition without providing them with financial resources to enable them put their training into practice.
He said: “In as much as the current social intervention programmes of the federal government have gone a long way in helping out, the grandaunts certainly need more than Start-Up Packs. They need money to run the business. I will want a situation in which the federal government will come up with a programme whereby if the ITF has trained someone, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for instance, should advance the funds in the region of N5milion, for each of the graduates to run the business which he was trained to run.
“The federal government should do more by either involving the CBN or the Bank of Industry (BoI) to give assistance by way of financing. If you train somebody and don’t empower him, you have only gone half way.
“On our part as the National assembly, we shall do our part by encouraging and supporting necessary legislations to enhance this programme.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director-General of the ITF, Sir Joseph Ari, said the decision to empower all the graduands with start-up packs was informed by revelations of the monitoring and evaluation of beneficiaries of earlier phases, which indicated that where the trainees were empowered with such supports, almost 90 percent ended up as successful entrepreneurs that were employing others.
He explained that the NISDP was one of the numerous skills acquisition intervention programmes introduced and implemented by the Fund to facilitate the achievement of President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy on job and wealth creation, which focuses on skills acquisition to create jobs to stem rampant unemployment and breed a new generation of entrepreneurs, in order to transform the economic landscape of the country.
“Since its inception, the NISDP has equipped over 150,000 Nigerians with skills for employability and entrepreneurship,” he disclosed.
Describing skills acquisition as the most sustainable solution to combating unemployment, reducing poverty and youth restiveness in the country, the Director-General said it was an incontrovertible fact that any society that neglects the development of its human capital is bound to retrogress in terms of growth and development.
“Until the inauguration of the Buhari administration, Nigeria was a perfect example of such society, so much so that even in the face of existing vacancies in several sectors of the National economy, youths roamed the streets without any form of gainful employment giving rise to crimes and other social vices that still bedevil our dear nation today,” he said.
According to Joseph Ari, the phase of the programme, which was completed shortly before the 2019 elections, trained over 11,000 Nigerians in various trade areas namely: welding and fabrication, plumbing and pipe-fitting, tailoring, aluminum, tiling, Plaster of Paris(POP)as well as photography. These trades were carefully selected based on their potential to directly impact the National economy.
He disclosed that further surveys had revealed that in all cases where the trainees were provided with the kits, over 90 percent earned reasonable livelihoodas entrepreneurs.
“It is our conviction that training the youths and women without equipping them, defeats the core objective of the programme and the policy of the present Administration to create wealth and grow the economy.”
“Additionally, in response to the Next Level Agenda of the Buhari Administration and the desire to fill the skills gaps identified by the ITF/UNIDO Survey, our target this year is to vigourously work to equip Nigerians with lifelong skills in the Agriculture, Construction, Transport and Services sectors that were identified by the survey to have great potential for job creation.”
“The success of our efforts in this regard will depend on the collaboration and synergy of all our stakeholders particularly the beneficiaries and parents and guardians. The beneficiaries must resolve to make the most of the opportunity provided by ITF skills acquisition programmes. You must also ensure that you use the start-up kits presented to youto not only put food on your family tables but also make meaningful contribution to the Nigerian economy.”
In his closing remarks, the Chairman, iTF Governing Council, Mallam Musa Gwadabe, promised that the Fund would kick-start the process of providing financial assistance to graduants of its skills acquisition programmes to enable them sustain their business operations.
The ceremony was graced by t the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha); Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah (represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Edet Sunday Akpan) and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Mohammed Bello (represented by the Permanent Secretary, Sir Chinenye Ohaa).