From Joe Effiong, Uyo
A total of 540 graduates are to be trained on various kinds of business in Akwa Ibom State by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) through its Extended Special Public Work (ESPW) programme to address the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
The state coordinator of NDE, Mr Promise Ekah, who disclosed this during the flag-off of the Advanced Business Training (ABT) for participants of the ESPW in Uyo on Monday, said the programme was a quick wing meant to address the unforeseen circumstances ushered in by COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
Ekah said such effects included low capacity industrial utilisation, reduction in the labour force, skyrocketing prices of goods and services, among others.
‘As a way out of these menaces, the Federal Government introduced this noble programme to stem the tide of unemployment and poverty among youths thus averting social vices that will have inflicted more pains on the population.
‘NDE is an intervention agency of the federal government saddled with the responsibility of creating jobs for the unemployed persons. The mandate is utilised using four core programmes. The guiding philosophy of NDE is self-employment rather than wage employment taking into cognisance that white-collar jobs are no longer available.
‘NDE Akwa Ibom State has provided jobs for thousands of persons that were hitherto unemployed. We will continue to strategise and restrategise to ensure a job for all,’ the coordinator said.
The Akwa Ibom State chairman, ESPW selection committee, Catherine Eno Udi, said the ABT was a follow-up to the COVID19 774,000 programme in which the participants were given a N60,000 grant as business seed capital by the federal government.
‘The main reason why they are having all this is to help in opening their small scale businesses and to showcase and train them on their businesses,’ she said.
Udi said for the programme to be effective, training was on a senatorial district basis with each contributing 180 participants. She expressed the hope that the plan by the federal government to increase the sum but as an interest-free loan to the participants would be a reality.
Joshua Buker, who represented the Director General of NDE, Abubakar Fikpo, said the programme was organised in stages to progressively encourage people to own their businesses and in the process, create jobs and reduce poverty.
One of the participants, Ededem Iko, from Nsit Atai, while expressing appreciation to the federal government for the programme, however, said the participants were hopeful that better working capital would be given to them to expand their businesses.