Okowa: Entrepreneurship Training Designed to Empower Youths to Become Role Models

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Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba 

The Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, has said that the entrepreneurship training and empowerment programme initiated by his administration in 2015 is designed in such a way that products of the programme would become role models to youths in the state and Nigeria at large.

Okowa stated this during the induction of 745 successful trainees of the 2017/2018 Third Cycle of “Skills Training & Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) and the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) Thursday in Asaba.

He noted that Delta State, like other states of the federation, has abundant human resources and a large population of youths whose zestful energies are waiting to be tapped and channel into positive ventures.

Okowa, who was flanked by the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, was heralded into the Orchid Hotel conference hall, venue of the ceremony with cheers and a standing ovation and songs for the governor’s second term success.

He said that the state government was both excited and grateful to the handlers and participants in the two previously inducted first and second cycles of trainees, because their attitude led to the chain of successes so far recorded and the subsequent global recognition.

Specifically, the governor asserted that the encouraging partnership the state’s wealth creation programme received for the 2017/2018 third cycle was only made possible by the positive disposition of the beneficiaries vis-à-vis the Delta State Job Creation Office.

“There is a lot of energy in our youths, and when we are able to harness these energies positively, the society and the nation will be so much better for it,” the governor said and urged the job creation office to leverage on the goodwill achieved so far to partner new financial organisations and other relevant stakeholders.

While challenging the different trainees to remain focused, committed and positive in line with the diverse and rigorous training they received in order to become successful entrepreneurs and employers of labour, Okowa said that they could not afford to fail or let themselves, their families and the state government that has invested so much to empower them, down.

Okowa announced that an executive bill was on the way that would, when it becomes law, give legal muscle to his administration’s entrepreneurial programme as well as make it sustainable and outlive his tenure as governor.

He also revealed that approval would soon be given by the state executive council for the commencement of the fourth cycle of the STEP and YAGEP entrepreneurship schemes, adding that the next cycle would be much larger in terms of number of participants and the involvement of faith organisations and communities.

Moreover, the governor disclosed that the state government was reviewing the maiden exhibition cum trade fair by the past beneficiaries of the programme held in December 2017, with a view to improving on the widely acknowledged success of the exercise, which attracted local and international interests including other governors and the World Bank.

Although, the state government was solely responsible for the first and second cycles of trainees, the United Nations decided to support the third (2017/208) cycle of STEP and YAGEP by partnering the state government through SEEFOR.

“There is a lot of energy in our youths, and when we are able to harness these energies positively, the society and the nation will be so much better for it,” the governor said and urged the job creation office to leverage on the goodwill achieved so far to partner new financial organisations and other relevant stakeholders.

“I congratulate you on the successful completion of your training programme, you are privileged to be ambassadors of this programme. Once you step out into the world, look out for what you will become, and see to what you will do with yourself. You should be an embodiment of the programme in character and deeds.

“As a government, I urge you to stay in the realisation that you stand out among youths as many will look up to you. You are a role model to other youths in the society; you have to put in a lot of commitment through hard work and honesty, stay patriotic to yourself and Delta State and you will succeed. Challenges will come but if you stay committed, you will be successful,” the governor added.

Earlier in his welcome address, the state’s Chief Job Creation Officer, Prof. Eric Eboh, said that the third Programme Cycle 2017/2018 has 745 beneficiaries including 30 persons with disabilities and their training and starter packs were funded by the State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR), a World Bank project.

The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Hon Festus Ovie Agas, the state Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr Kingsley Emu, Special Duties Commissioner, Mr. Ernest Ogwezzy, and the Executive Secretary of the state Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Mrs Shimite Bello, and the Communications Manager, Mr. Jackson Ekwugum, were among top government officials at the induction ceremony.

A former Nigerian information minister, Prof Sam Oyavbaire, former speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Martins Okonta, several members of the House of Assembly, as well as numerous religious and traditional rulers including the Orodje of Okpe and Pere of Kukugbene Kingdom were among the dignitaries at the event.