ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR DR. IFEANYI ARTHUR OKOWA, THE GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE, AT THE INAUGURATION OF 2016 CYCLE OF THE JOB CREATION SCHEME (STEP,YAGEP & GEEP) WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016, AT SONGHAI-DELTA, AMUKPE
It is my pleasure to welcome you to today’s inauguration ceremony.
- It is a thing of personal joy and pride for me that the 2016 cycle of the Job Creation Scheme is taking off today. As most of you may be aware, the cornerstone of the S.M.A.R.T agenda is job and wealth creation.
- The Job Creation scheme was conceptualised as a more enduring way of achieving this goal; it is specifically designed to tackle youth unemployment by producing a critical mass of skilled and knowledgeable small business owners that will drive the economic diversification and business competitiveness of the State.
- In 2015, we successfully trained and established one thousand and twenty seven (1,027) unemployed graduates under the Skills Training and Acquisition Programme (STEP) while two hundred and fifty six (256) youths passed through the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP). The target for the 2016 cycle is one thousand (1,000) unemployed youths, with STEP accounting for 60% and YAGEP 40%. Unlike in 2015, the 2016 cycle includes persons with disabilities and a special category of YAGEP candidates – the best agricultural science graduates from tertiary institutions in Delta State.
- We have also added a new programme, Graduate Employment Enhancement Programme (GEEP) to the Scheme. Under this programme, we shall be assisting graduates to establish small agro-processing units in plantain, cassava and aquaculture, as well as facilitate and support internships for graduate professionals for improved employability.
- As most of us here know, the finances of the State have been under siege as has the national economy since 2014 when the global price of oil plummeted. To worsen matters, the resurgence of pipeline bombings in oil producing communities has severely impacted on our ability to meet our oil production quota with adverse consequences on the Delta State economy.
- Despite the shortfall in the revenue accruing to us from oil derivation as a result of this unhealthy development, we remain committed to sustaining this Scheme. We shall continue to prioritise it even in the face of the difficult economic environment. The commencement of the 2016 cycle is ample proof of this and it is our hope and expectation that participants will reciprocate government’s commitment with equal zeal and determination.
- During this Orientation Programme, you will be taking courses in personal effectiveness, resource management, problem solving, leadership, and among many other modules, to be facilitated by thoroughbred professionals and experienced resource persons; men and women with proven track records of success in business and leadership.
- After This Orientation Programme, you are expected to proceed to various skills training centres and enterprises to acquire vocational (hands-on) skills after which you will embark on internship in an existing business set-up in your chosen field. During the vocational skills training, you will be instructed on entrepreneurship and business management skills to enable you set up and run your business enterprise successfully. Thereafter, you will be given start packs to start you businesses.
- The government is investing heavily in this programme and you will be doing yourself, your family and your community great disservice if you squander this opportunity. Training to become an entrepreneur gives you a head start over some of your friends and colleagues in paid employment. Every employee, whether in the civil service or the private sector, will one day retire into private business and God help that person who is not adequately prepared for life after paid employment.
- You should, therefore, consider yourselves privileged to be getting the kind of training you are receiving. I expect you to make the most of this opportunity by diligently applying yourself to the training programme. If you are found wanting at any point in time, you will be asked to step aside. We are very serious about this Scheme and only those who show the same amount of seriousness deserve to continue to enjoy business start-up support from the government.
- Finally, let me commend the Office of the Chief Job Creation Officer for their hard work and focus in implementing the Scheme. The good reports I have heard about those who graduated in 2015 and are now running their businesses are very encouraging and gratifying. I will only reiterate that the Job Creation Office should continually strengthen its monitoring and mentoring mechanism for improved performance and sustainable business development.
- It is on this note that I now formally inaugurate the 2016 cycle of the Job Creation Scheme.
- I thank you for your time and attention.
- God bless us all.
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR