By Bolaji Odumade
THE commitment of the Lagos State Government under the leadership of Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu toward empowering more Lagosians has been further strengthened with programmes such as the Jobs Initiatives Lagos (JIL), Eko Digital Skills, Adult Literacy Education, Vocational Training, Quarterly Mega Empowerment Programme and LSETF Funding Initiatives among others. The Sanwo-Olu administration is embarking on several intervention programmes to empower the youths, women and indigent citizens in tandem with its vision of attaining a ‘Greater Lagos’. In order to sustain the momentum in its skill acquisition centers, the government has completed the upgrading of most of its vocational training centers to world-class standards. It has also equipped those centers with additional working tools to allow for expansion and more enrolment.
Over 25,000 trainees have graduated from the state’s 20 vocation centers in the last three and a half years. During a quarterly mega empowerment programme by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), 890 residents were empowered. The empowerment programme is a demonstration of the government’s commitment to eradicating poverty. The scheme has positively influenced many Lagosians who are now employers of labour in their own right. Similarly, over 1,000 widows were provided with livelihood support during last year’s International Widows’ Day celebration. The state’s First Lady, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, who made the cash presentations to the widows at Alausa, restated the commitment of the Sanwo-Olu administration to rendering necessary assistance to widows and women in general. Meanwhile, another 1,050 Lagosians were empowered with various items by the government. This includes hair dryers, pepper-grinding machines, generating sets, sewing machines, popcorn production machines, clippers and sterilizing sets among others.
Speaking at the event, Governor Sanwo-Olu, represented by his Deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat restated the commitment of his administration to providing succour to citizens, especially in the face of daunting social-economic challenges.
Similarly, 200 household heads for orphans and vulnerable children were empowered with 76 grinding machines, 69 sewing machines, 10 tools, 10 deep freezers, 15 hair-drying machines, 10 braving equipment and 7 ovens among others. Also, no less than 255,000 direct and indirect jobs have been created in the last two years via the various activities of the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment. 8,000 residents were supported last year through a Special Grant for Rural Women in partnership with the Federal Government. The beneficiaries are spread across all the 57 Local Government Areas and Local Council Development Areas. Also, no fewer than 22,647 beneficiaries under the variants (N-teach, N-Health, N-Agro) participated in a sensitisation workshop organised to review experiences, gather strategies needed for post-N-Power programme and provide a platform for future career prospects.
Similarly, the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) is also being used to empower Lagosians. Very soon, the 44 Factory Units-Imota Light Industry Park, which is about 86 percent completed, will be commissioned to further provide opportunities for residents to generate wealth. Also, the various projects being executed with the private sector at the Lekki Free Trade Zone are already yielding great dividends. Despite the pandemic, over 230 jobs were created through the Alaro City project, a joint venture project designed and owned by Rendeavour Nigeria Development Company Limited and the government, through Lekki Worldwide Investments Limited. The government has also been exploring opportunities in the agriculture sector to empower more. Recently, 1,750 Agricultural Value Chains Actors were empowered with various agricultural productive assets and inputs via the Agricultural Value Chains Empowerment programme. Governor Sanwo-Olu reiterated the need for active participation of all stakeholders in agricultural space towards exploring the diverse empowerment opportunities available in the sector.
He listed some of the projects being deployed to empower Lagosians in the Agric sector to include the Imota Rice, Agricultural based Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES), World Bank assisted Agro-processing and the Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS) among others. The government has also commenced another youth empowerment programme, under its Jobs Initiative Lagos (JIL), targeted at final year students and those in penultimate classes in higher institutions. The programme targets 8000 entrepreneurs. At present, 8000 penultimate and final year students, drawn from all higher institutions in the state, are undergoing entrepreneurship and employability skills training programmes. The JIL is aimed at preparing participants for immediate entry into the workforce as employees and employers of labour, by equipping them with the new market-aligned knowledge, soft skills, business tools, and a mindset re-orientation that will make them suitable and qualify for their chosen career in the technology-driven world of work.
Soon, the selected 8000 students were trained in core areas such as soft skills, resume writing, work etiquettes, entrepreneurship skills development presentation and pitching, corporate email drafting and negotiations skills among others. The government came up with the initiative to up-skill the youths by equipping them with all necessary skills that would not only make them employable and highly competitive in the global market, but make their services highly essential for national economic growth.
The Sanwo-Olu administration is also set to empower over 2.5 million youths via Arts and Crafts. This is aimed at making them self-reliant and economically independent.
This was disclosed during the annual creative industry’s skills acquisition workshop organised by the Lagos State Council of Arts and Culture.
The event, tagged “Unlocking the Potential of the Innate Creativity for Sustainable Development”, was organised to equip participants for employ-ability opportunities.
The government has also presented cheques of various amounts of money to beneficiaries of the ‘Sanwo-Olu Listens’ initiative. The scheme, which was designed to provide long-term financial assistance to vulnerable citizens, is one of several social intervention programmes being implemented by the Sanwo-Olu administration to bring relief to residents with adverse socio-economic conditions.
Speaking during the programme at Alausa, Sanwo-Olu affirmed he would not shy away from making lives of the citizens of the state better. He added that governance goes beyond providing security of lives and property for the citizens, but ensuring the daily upkeep and welfare of the citizens.
“I am really delighted to be at this event and listened to some of the beneficiaries as they tabled their priorities. This is what government entails. We know you will face diverse challenges. We intend to do our best to support and give succour to the vulnerable”, Sanwo-Olu noted.
The Governor reassured Lagosians that his government will always listen to the voice of the people, especially the less privileged. He stressed that the programme was planned to bring hope and help to the downtrodden.
Though the task of tackling poverty and unemployment might seem herculean, the Sanwo-Olu administration has demonstrated, through its numerous creative initiatives that with the required will both monsters could be overcome.
With a comatose global economy and frightening unemployment statistics, we cannot afford to take the issue of wealth creation lightly. Therefore, all stakeholders must join hands with the government to come up with more ingenious means of wealth creation.
- Odumade is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy.
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