From Felix Ikem, Nsukka
In the face of growing youth unemployment, Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State is partnering with Saint Augustine’s Farms and Skills Acquisition Centre (SAFSAC) Limited, a non-governmental organisation, to train over 500 youths in the area.
The chairman of the local government area, Ejike Itodo, made this declaration during the inauguration of multimillion-naira skills acquisition centre in Onicha-Enugu.
According to the council chairman, “The administration of Igbo-Eze North LGA is people-oriented, and would do everything within its limit to reduce the rising case of unemployment in the land. This is one of such programmes to stem the tide of youth unemployment and its concomitant social vices.”
The chairman, who was represented by the secretary to the local government, Mr. Paul Odoh, added that: “SAFSAC has taken the bull by the horns. In view of this lofty project, the local government council will partner with the NGO to make the skills acquisition centre a success.”
He enjoined youths to seize the opportunity provided by the NGO to acquire skills for their own good and that of the society.
“I enjoin our youths to see this skills acquisition centre as an opportunity to acquire skills. You are free to come here to acquire skills to back yourself up for a better future. If you are yet to get admission into higher institution, stop wasting your precious time. This centre is for you,” he further said.
The council chairman also lamented the high level of apathy of youths towards skills acquisition, pointing out that this would also increase crime and unemployment rates in society.
Earlier, in his remarks, the founder of the NGO, Rev. Fr. Fabian Eke, announced the objective of the centre to include training the youth in various skills to fulfill their dreams in life.
“The skills centre is set up to address unemployment challenges, which, to some extent, is attributable to lack of skills.
“We may not have all that it takes to equip one for a fulfilled life here, but it could serve as a stepping stone. We want to import skills to the cities. Only the fortunate will have access to learn a trade in the cities due to the current rising cost of living in Nigeria,” he said.
Enumerating the training areas, Fr. Eke said: “For now, we have facilities for tailoring, weaving, auto mechanics, auto electricians, wheel-balancing and alignment, vulcanizing, piggery, fishery, two tractors and intermediate baking.
“The following equipment support these training activities: 50 sewing machines, one electronic car lifter, tyre changer, wheel-balancing machine, air-conditioning automatic defilers, piggery demonstration farm, fish farm, 20KVA solar-powered energy as well as training complexes in Onicha-Enugu and Nsukka.”
The priest, however, solicited financial support from well-off and kind-hearted individuals to fund the centre.
“On our own part, it is becoming increasingly difficult to cope with the cost of paying the trainers because the number of apprentices or trainees are too few to sustain the salaries of trainers. By sponsoring a youth to learn a trade for a token, you are supporting immensely in paying for the services of the trainers,” he said.
One of the apprentices, Miss Loveth Odo, expressed gratitude to the organization for initiating and bringing the laudable project to their community.
“I am so happy for the organization. I finished my secondary school without any hope of furthering my education. But, today, the organization has given me hope. I am learning tailoring and I believe that this will help me greatly in life,” she said.
The high point of the occasion was the inauguration of the centre by Itodo.