Paul Obi and Marvellous Okeke in Abuja
The federal government on Sunday insisted that all unemployed Nigerians must register online before they can benefit from any its Social Intervention Scheme (SIS), as registration is now mandatory for job seekers and other empowerment programmes.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, stated this at the weekend while flagging off the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) School-to-Work Programme in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
He spoke against the backdrop of different agencies of government laying claim to the ownership of the programmes, a move that might isolate the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The minister urged all unemployed Nigerians to register at the online job portal of the SIS of the federal government in order to benefit from the different categories of the programmes which government is offering.
“Unfortunately as we speak, by last week, the portal has only recorded about 1.2 million persons. We expect more persons to have been registered in the portal before our screening exercise. The portal closes 31st August 2016 which is just few days away,” Ngige said.
“For those who are not computer literate, we advise the state governments to encourage them by using local government chairmen to move into local government areas and register the unemployment persons there so that they can qualify to be considered for the scheme. Each state of the federation is expected to recruit about 1,500 persons.”
Speaking on the team of the School-to-Work programme, which he summarised as an expression of a renewed vigour by the ministry under him to catch them young, Ngige said it was also a bold attempt to build a future Nigeria where white-collar jobs would be unattractive.
“We are building a generation of Nigerians where creative thinking, self-confidence and dignity of labour will challenge the prevailing unemployment scourge. We are building a generation of Nigerians who will not only create wealth with their hands but are proud employers with skills from hands that God has given them.
“This is a two-month vacation creative job learning scheme for students in JSS 1 to SSS 2 classes. It is meant to provide them with skills early in life so that they can graduate and earn a living if they wish not to continue after secondary education or have an income earning skill to fall back on while doing higher education. This set of students will graduate to higher skills training the next vacation while others succeed them. By this, we are re-thinking a university education system where graduates fold hands and wait for food on their table,” Ngige said.
The minister disclosed that a total of 150 persons would be trained yearly from each of the states of the federation under the scheme which has Calabar, Anambra, Bauchi, Katsina, Kogi and Ondo as the headquarters for the six zonal training centres.
Ngige added that the programme was built with enough provision for decent work in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) so as to foreclose the possibility of child labour in the course of training and after.
The registration on the portal, Npower.ng.org) ends this week.
Acting Director General of the NDE, Dr. Kunle Obanya, said the NDE was constantly preoccupied with providing initiatives that would address the ever changing forms and patterns of unemployment.”
He added that the programme was designed to provide diverse vocational, agricultural and entrepreneurial skills training for secondary school students during long vacation, saying that the age grouping was the best peak to tackle youth unemployment with acquisition of skills.