The goal of the Executive Chairman, Apapa Local Government Council, Hon. Adele Elijah Owolabi, is that the residents of his local government are adequately equipped for the future to become self-reliant and self-sufficient.
To this end, a N16 million empowerment programme for 160 small businesses in the local government as well as the 7th skills acquisition graduation ceremony, was recently held at the council secretariat in Apapa, Lagos.
Describing the event as three-in-one project and unique by all standard, the chairman said: “It is remarkable in the sense that we are empowering 160 small businesses owners in our local government.
“We are also graduating students who learned various skills as well as empowering 160 people with N100,000 each as start-up drive for them to boost their various businesses, believing that by the time they add the money to their businesses, it will enlarge the scale and the turnover would be huge. And if you are a housewife, you won’t have the need to be relaying on your husband for housekeep.”
Explaining that the prime purpose of the empowerment is to make indigenes self-reliant and self-sufficient, he advised the beneficiaries to make judicious use of what has been given to them rather than squander the money on hosting pasties and other irrelevant ventures.
Speaking further, he said, “At the vocational centre, we have 120 people that are graduating today. We ensured that the first three in all the eight departments we have got cash gift of a N100, 000 each and we purchased equipment for them.”
He promised to continue to implement policies, programmes and projects that will benefit the greatest number of people.
Mrs Blessing Robert, an ex-student of the council’s vocational training centre, who is presently assisting as a fashion instructor at the centre after she graduated about five years ago, showered encomiums on the chairman.
Recalling the days past before he came on board, she said things changed for the better. “This year’s graduation ceremony went beyond my expectations. It has never been like this before.
“Before now, there was nothing like electricity, no air conditioner in the classes, and no equipment for learning like we have today. But when the present chairman came in, he changed everything for good.
“Now we have air conditioners, electricity is constant, and there are equipment for easy learning as each person is attached to a sewing machine in the fashion department, for example. This makes them to learn faster.”
She went on to state that she is now an independent housewife earning from her trade due to the skills she acquired from the centre about five years ago.
Mrs. Oniyitan Bolanle, a fashion design instructor at the skill acquisition centre, said she was impressed by the outcome of the day.
“When we started, most of them didn’t believe they could learn the skill within a year but to the glory of God, today many of them have picked up and they are doing well. I’m so impressed with their works and I see a great future for all of them”, she noted.
Fawole Olusoji, one of the beneficiaries, a staff of THISDAY Newspapers, who turned out to be the best graduating student from the fashion department for 2019, said he got to know about the programme from a poster he read somewhere but was doubtful if it would work.
“When I read the notice, I was wondering how they could use 12 months to teach people how to sew. I just felt that since I had the time, I should apply but it turned out to be something beyond my expectations and to the glory of God, we are celebrating today”, recalled Olusoji, who is today an expert in the trade.
Speaking on how he became the best graduating student, Olusoji said, “In our class, I was the only male. It was not easy for just a male to survive in midst of more than 20 ladies. So, it was like a battle for me. I kept thinking within me that how I would allow females to push me behind and that was the driving force.”
The 2011 Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Mass Communication graduate, who revealed that the skill acquired as a fashion designer is an added advantage to his profession as a mass communicator, said, “Today I’m so proud that I’m overall best student from the fashion department. And today I am a proud owner of a brand new sewing machine, a certificate and some cool cash as start-up”.
Another beneficiary, Mrs. Haruna Olivet Ikojo, said, “Today is the happiest day of my life. I thank God that somebody like me can learn fashion design and then be among those that benefitted. I was given a brand new machine, which I can use to start my business from anywhere.”
Coordinator for the skill acquisition school, Princess Josephine Ayo-Vaughan, said running the centre would have been very challenging without the timely intervention of the chairman.
Head of Department, Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation of the local government, Oluwatoyin Onanubi, said having observed that there were so many people out there looking for white collar jobs, which are nowhere to be found, the local government decided to encourage those ones that have given themselves to learning skills so that they can be employers of labour.
She therefore advised that everyone that has been empowered to seize the opportunity and make the best use of it.