Senator Ibikunle Amosun
Sheriff Balogun writes on Ogun State Government’s moves to eradicate poverty and empower the people, through various measures put in place to tackle high rate of unemployment
No day passes by without seeing youths in various places searching for jobs through internet vacant jobs and others.
The job desperation by the teeming youths in Nigeria has transpired into high levels of crime such as robbery, cyber crime, prostitution, illegal oil wells and bunkering, fraudulent activities and others.
In fact, among major problems confronting the nation today is poverty and increasing youth unemployment. This situation has become so alarming that governments at all levels seem to be losing the battle daily as thousands of graduates from tertiary institutions continue to flood the labour market with no hope of getting jobs.
The population of youths is growing astronomically while those graduating from various higher institutions of learning are innumerable. However, in the developed and advanced countries, unskilled and semi-skilled workers have their stakes in government but in Nigeria reverse is the case.
In Nigeria, youth unemployment is soaring high despite the fact that the government has provided laudable programmes to curb the growing concern of joblessness among the teeming population in the country in recent times.
In Ogun state, the situation has not been different from other states. The state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, had made the issue of poverty and youth unemployment a major issue in his campaign during the last governorship election.
The governor, however, recently unveiled his moves in the area of eradicating poverty as well as youth employment in the state. His employment agenda was not restricted to the youths but across the professionals in various fields of studies.
The most amazing area of Amosun's employment agenda was the case of gender-sensitivity. Concerning this, the governor disclosed that he has appointed more than 50 women at the state and local government levels in the state.
Aside this, the State's Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development has since inception of Amosun's administration empowered 350 women from the 236 wards of the state.
On the other hand, Amosun's administration has offered training on vocational skills development to interested members of the public with total number of 178 youths currently undergoing training on sewing, knitting, hairdressing, shoe making, among others.
The governor, at a recent session in Abeokuta, disclosed that his government has employed over 16,000 youths already, saying people mistook his promise of 10,000 jobs to mean white collar jobs.
He said “some of those who are cleaning the roads and trimming the flowers were employed by this government. We have several doctors and nurses already employed too.”
Speaking further, the former Senator said his government has improved on the manpower in the health sector, saying “when we came, we had just 50 medical doctors in the employment of the state government.”
He added “Today, we have about 250 and we still need to employ more because they are not enough. We would have employed more but for some challenges. We have acute shortages of manpower in all these health centres.”
Focus on Education
While tackling challenges of unemployment of youths in the state from its foundation, Amosun said the state government has embarked on building of new model schools while he has reconstructed the existing school structures to meet up with youths roaming about the streets.
He said, “If we are to return the schools to the missionaries, we won’t have anywhere to keep our youths expected to be students thereafter because model schools are to accommodate these students.”
Another Helping Hand
Complementing the governor's effort in the area of youth empowerment, the governor's wife, Mrs. Funsho Amosun, recently empowered more than 1,000 physically-challenged people from across the 20 local government areas of the state benefited from the ‘Uplifting the Physically Challenged’ programme.
The programme, initiated by her, was designed to empowered people with special needs across the state where hundreds of items that include free artificial limbs, wheel chairs, sewing machines and commercial items like giant coolers, umbrellas, packs of Indomie and other Dangote products as well as cash gifts were given the physically-challenged people to boost their personal and economic needs.
Governor Amosun, who was at the event to encourage and support the initiative of his wife, assured the people of his administration’s commitment to the welfare of the people, particularly the people with special needs, noting that in spite of their special needs these people are blessed with one talent or the other.
According to him, they (physically-challenged persons) can still contribute to the development of the state and the country at large when given a conducive environment to operate.
The governor said more projects and policies of interest would be initiated for people with special needs to benefit them, pointing out that a special passage route had been carved out of the newly-constructed Ita-Eko/Sokori road in Abeokuta for them and more facilities would be designed throughout the state to ensure their safety.
He, therefore, donated a Toyota Hiace Bus to members of the Joint National Associations of People with Disabilities.
Mrs. Amosun, in her remark, said the empowerment programme for the people with special needs was in continuation of the promise made to ensure their well being by making them self-sufficient and self-employed.
She said her office, through the Uplift Development Foundation, would sustain the distributions of artificial limbs to the people with special needs to bring succour to them and enhance their standard of living.
She added that the cash reward given to the physically-challenged people was meant to be distributed among the four groups of people with special needs in the state, and presented an award of recognition to Tolaram Charity Foundation for their selfless service to humanity through donation and fixing of artificial limbs.
She commended all her partner organisations for their support, expressing her readiness to partner other private organisations within and outside the state to uplift the lives of the needy in the society.
The representative of Chief Executive Officer of Tolaram Charity Foundation, Mrs. Neha Mehra, said the foundation had distributed over twenty thousand artificial limbs to people with special needs including those in Ogun State and would continue to partner with Uplift Development Foundation to make live better for them.
Also, in her activities that marked the 2012 International Women’s Day celebration recently, Mrs. Amosun empowered some women in the state by giving them some items secured at prices lower than the market rate with a 12-month interest-free repayment period, while some were given distributorship rights in various companies.
Amosun described the International Women's Day as an “opportunity for global community to celebrate the contributions of women” to families, communities and nations, adding that the day gave the women folk a chance “to reflect on issues and challenges” facing women worldwide.
She said the United Nations adopted ‘Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty’ as the theme for this year, but Ogun State was celebrating with the theme ‘Uplifting Women’, noting empowerment of women was vital in addressing social, economic and political challenges in the state.
According to her, “we have chosen to empower our women by giving them items like sewing machines, grinding machines, freezers, generating sets, hair dryers and among others to enable them establish a small scale business of their own with a hope of generating income and improving their livelihoods.
“This is why we believe that empowering our women will translate into an improved society, because women play a key role in the quest for society's growth and development. We also acknowledge the contribution of women to the peace and security in our state.”
But for those in rural areas, she said “we will continue to identify with your cause and we shall always strive to improve your situation.”
The governor, therefore, commended the women folk for their contribution to the peace and security in the state. He urged them to see themselves as equal partners in achieving sustainable development, peace and security by contributing their quota in the mission to rebuild the state.
Receiving the items from Mrs. Amosun, the President, Ogun State Cooperative Federation, Mr. Adetokunbo Osisanya, lauded the governor’s wife for putting in place the empowerment programme, saying “it was first of its kind in the state and this will go a long way to boost the living standard of women.”
Meanwhile, the newly-created Ministry of Community Development and Cooperatives has also re-affirmed that it would provide more micro credit facilities to the various associations in the state.
This, according to the Commissioner, Chief Duro Aiyedogbon, was to enhance their businesses and reduce poverty among the people in the coming year.
Aiyedogbon gave the assurance ahead of the activities of his Ministry for the next fiscal year, stating that the Ministry would set necessary machineries in motion to monitor the activities of the associations in order to improve the socio-economic life of the State with emphasis on capacity building and funding to bring about rural and urban transformation.
He added that in the next fiscal year, his Ministry would embark on more activities to ensure more robust mobilisation of Community Development Associations, Cooperative Societies and Trade Associations to ensure that they perform their statutory roles as agents of grassroots development and economic empowerment.