Ashafa(4th right) surrounded by the first sets of beneficiaries of the Youth Energy Career Program...recently
Recently, hundreds of economically disadvantaged youths and the visually impaired people in Lagos benefitted from Senator Gbenga Ashafa’s empowerment and scholarship programme, writes Gboyega Akinsanmi
Patience Adaramaja, a certified caterer and event planner has not been able to establish a business of her own for several years. She attributed it to working capital requirements, which she said she could not raise to kick-start the business.
But her dream was realised when Senator Gbenga Ashafa announced his 2013 empowerment scheme for indigent women. Aged 35, Adaramaja said she was advised to enroll for the scheme from which hundreds of indigent women had benefitted in the past. As providence would have it, shortly after she registered for the programme, her named was listed as part of the next sets of beneficiaries.
Similarly, Mr. Oluwasegun Ayegboka who had a challenge paying his tuition fee as a 500-level student of the Department of Pharmacy, University of Lagos (UNILAG) was rescued by the programme. Ayegboka had risked losing an academic session before help came his way.
Just like Adaramaja, he also learnt about Ashafa’s scholarship scheme for indigent students. At first he was skeptical about it, but he applied and afterwards he smiled.
Ayegboka described Ashafa’s intervention as life-saving, which he said he would never forget until his death. He: “I am here today as an upcoming pharmacist. I can never forget this gesture till I die because the scholarship scheme is really timely. Surely, it has hard colour and hope to my career in life. I pray that God Almighty will protect and support him too.”
At his Magodo constituency office, where the annual empowerment programme held Ashafa said he has not done anything extraordinary and unexpected, reminding people from his constituency that he had simply kept faith with his electoral promises by responding to those who are in need.
“For me, this is not just an electoral promise. It is a commission and a personal responsibility. As God prepares a place for every youth, leaders retain the responsibility of preparing them for ‘the place. Except the youths are indeed prepared much ahead, the opportunities would ultimately mock them when it arrived. Like all leaders, I have an onus to make critical interventions where required,” he said.
He linked his social support to a desire to rescue the indigent women and youths from the brink of social deviance.
He said: “Failure to make interventions where needed explains the rationales for high crime rate and youth violence among the youths. This is why we put up different schemes to respond to the needs of economically disadvantaged people in Lagos East.”
The lawmaker therefore acknowledged some level of achievement, which he said, had been recorded under various empowerment programmes and scholarship scheme he initiated shortly after he was elected Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN, saying “we aspired to political office in order to add values to humanity. “
He gave insight into how his programmes and schemes has transformed lives within his senatorial district saying a total of 230 young men and women have benefited from the monthly free information and communication technology (ICT) programme.
“New computer set with a printer was also awarded to participants that demonstrated incremental knowledge during the programme,” he said.
Aside, the lawmaker added that a number of graduates in Lagos has been employed through his office into some Federal parastatals such as the Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Television Authority and Nigeria Defense Academy among others.
He also cited his Youth Energy Career Program, which he said about fifteen graduates had been meaningfully engaged and professionally trained “to complement the efforts of the federal and state governments in the energy and power sector. We sponsored the program in conjunction with the Lagos State Government and SIEMENS Nigeria with the central objective of developing manpower in the power sector.
“However, we have decided that the numbers of beneficiaries should be increased to 20 because of the value-resonance of the programme after the graduation of the first batch. Our investment in this area includes full payment of tuition fees at SIEMENS Nigeria and a substantial monthly allowance payable to each participant. The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) equally endorsed the programme.”
He added: “Developing local manpower in the power sector remains a key to realising stable power supply in the country. The country’s young graduates should be encouraged to solve crises of irregular and unstable power. This initiative calls for more private sector participation and development of local manpower if crises plaguing the country’s energy and power sector should be effectively addressed.”
He also mentioned his small-scale business assistance scheme, which he said has benefitted quite a number of unemployed people and petty traders across all local government areas (LGAs) and local council development areas (LCDAs). The initiative was designed to help them either establish or expand small scale businesses in order to reduce the number of unemployed people.
The lawmaker said he initiated another empowerment scheme, specifically for spouses of all his domestic workers. He explained that the beneficiaries “include 17 spouses of our domestic workers and security details of which some of them have been empowered to establish small-scale businesses, trained in such vocations as fashion designing among others and assisted to trade in recharge cards.”
According to him several students are currently enrolled on his scholarship programme which started in January 2013.
“I have long been given scholarship before I became a senator, so I can’t stop now that I have a better chance to do more, “he enthused.
Also, more than 100 residents of Lagos East senatorial district have benefitted from food security scheme under which Senator Ashafa provides farm implements, tool and financial aids in order to boost the state’s agricultural produce and pull out some of the jobless people from the brink of unemployment.
“We have also initiated free health programme, which allow people undergo medical test and treatment for those who are suffering different kind of sight impairment. At least, we have touched lives in a little way.”
One of the beneficiaries, Mr. Lawrence Temidayo commended the lawmaker for how he had pulled out many indigent people from their sorry situations. He explained that Ashafa’s ICT programme indeed added value to his life and career.
“I had no knowledge about computer operation before, because I have not had the privilege of using one. But now I am happy I can operate programmes like PowerPoint, MS Word as well as Excel among others with clear mastery. That was made happen by Senator Ashafa’s empowerment programme,” Lawrence said.