CHRISTIAN APPOLOS, in this report, brings testimonies of some beneficiaries of NDE’s recent agro-value-chain job creation programme that took place in the FCT and 14 states of the fdederation.

Nobody needs a soothsayer to tell how happy they are, because happiness was glaringly written all over their faces. You can literally see that they are filled with hope and confidence that an opportunity that will make a difference in their lives is within their grasp. You can equally see that some of them have been struggling to make ends meet for a very long time. But luck has smiled on them and they are now the newest beneficiaries of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE’s) job creation empowerment programme.

These beneficiaries have been given orientation and trained in different agro-value-chain businesses. During the training period, they had the opportunity to meet and hear the success testimonies of some past beneficiaries. The orientation bequeathed them with the understanding of the economic realities in the country and the consequences of sitting idle, waiting for a white collar job that may never come. Finally, the NDE has provided them with facilities to kickstart any agrobusiness of their choice. Literally, they have been given a rare opportunity to join the fight against unemployment menace.

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Recall that the menace of unemployment and its many consequences are notoriously topping the list of challenges facing governments across Africa. And with the exploding population of its citizens and unemployed persons, Nigeria apparently needs a powerful elixir to reduce its high rate of unemployment. However, like other countries on the African continent, successive governments in Nigeria have always muscled efforts to combat unemployment crisis through various job creation schemes and programmes, just as President Bola Tinubu’s government is currently on it.

The beneficiaries, totaling 700, were selected from Abia, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Gombe, Imo, Kano, Kwara, Lagos, Osun, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba States and the FCT. They are the set of beneficiaries of NDE’s last lap of 2023 job creation empowerment programme under Agricultural Enhancement Scheme put together by its Rural Employment Promotion Department (REP).

Expressing their gratitude, the beneficiaries spoke on how the empowerment offers opportunity for them to be self-reliant. They added that it is a blessed source of livelihood especially with the current economic situation of the country and none availability of jobs.

Mr Joseph Aki, from Obudu LGA of Cross River State, said, “I consider myself very lucky to be a beneficiary of this NDE agro business empowerment. The training and facilities provided are big boost for me to improve my means of livelihood. Given the economic challenges I have faced since my graduation and the present economic hardship in this country, an opportunity like this is a game changer. I thank the Federal Government, specifically, NDE for its efforts to findings ways to pull Nigerians out of abject poverty. I pray government sustains this kind of programme.”

Etowa Ubi, an OND holder from Yakurr LGA of Cross River State, said, “This programme has given me a very important opportunity. Considering how I have been managing to survive, I am so happy and fortunate that I will be starting something of my own. I am overjoyed that I will move from asking family and friends for money all the time to earning a living from the meat business I plan to start with the facility. I don’t expect to make millions over night but my greatest joy is that I will be making some money on daily basis no matter how small. I really thank NDE for the opportunity.”

Katherine Efiong Okon, a 46-year-old mother, said, “I plant water leaf at the riverside and also sell different types of vegetables to support my family. I want to thank the Federal Government for bringing this opportunity because it has added to my means of livelihood. The facilities will help me expand my business. I am so happy. I beg NDE to do more in this direction because it is a viable way of engaging people to do something meaningful instead of roaming the streets.”

In Umuahia Abia State, Mr Chukwueke Chilaegwu, said, “I am into goat rearing. Through this training, I have learnt about a lot of techniques I was not aware of in the past. This programme has boosted my business and I am making more money. It came when I most needed help to lift my business.

Another beneficiary, Mrs Theresa Nwaeze, from Bende LGA of Abia State said, “The knowledge I gained through this training has really improved my farming skill. In the past, I used to experience loses after investing my money but through what they taught us during the training, there is great improvement. Most importantly, the facility they provided us with made it possible for me to upgrade and I am earning more now than in the past.”

Mrs Ibe Uchenna, also from Abia State said, “The training opened my eyes to businesses I usually look down on. But now I will start up farm produce sale business. I have tried my hands on couple of other things but this training thought me how effective and gainful agro related businesses can be. So selling of varieties of agro-produce is the trade I have chosen to do. I urge government to keep supporting us and also provide more opportunity for others.”

Abigail Samuel, a food vendor and mother of six, is one of the beneficiaries in the FCT. She expressed gratitude to the NDE and said the facility she got saved her from the rigours of being on the streets on a daily basis as it empowered her to run a poultry farm at home and also have more time to attend to her children.

“After the training, I had given up hope we will be empowered before NDE surprised me. I am so grateful to the government. They have changed my life for the better,” Samuel said.

Chukwuka Linus Nwabueze, a beneficiary from the FCT also said, “The NDE is really doing great. I know so many people that have benefited from their empowerment and today their lives have changed. I also believe that this opportunity they have given many of us here will make a great impact in our lives too. No amount is too small and no amount is too big as well, the most important thing is that we need to start from somewhere.

One of the beneficiaries in Kano State, Labaran Ali, said, “I am grateful to the NDE for the numerous job creation schemes I heard it has done. With this empowerment from NDE, I have decided to go into the yam selling business. I know that the best place to buy food items cheaper is Niger State, so I will start the yam selling business immediately. Things have been very hard and sometimes I wondered how to survive but I thank Allah that NDE came up with this empowerment and I happy that I am a beneficiary.”

Fatima Bello Ahmed, an HND holder from Kano State said she is happy to have received NDE training and facility to start up a business. She went on to say, “Many people are suffering in Nigeria not having anything doing. Government cannot provide office work for everybody but empowerment programmes like this can help change for the better the life a lot of people. I am grateful for the little they have provided. It is a starting point for me and it will change my life for the better.”

Mobolaji Akinsanya Damilare, from Ogun State said, “It is a great privilege and I am happy to be a part of this programme. It is a very good thing that government is empowering unemployed persons who are interested in agro-related businesses to boost their enterprise. It will definitely go a long way to change our lives for the better. The facilities the NDE has provided for us is very important because it the engine that will enable us start the journey to become self-reliant and also contribute to the economy of the country.”

In Lagos, Mrs Taiwo Damolan, a beneficiary, who was trained in fish farming, was appreciative to the efforts of the Federal Government to empowering unemployed Nigerians to be self-reliant.

Mrs Damolan, who is in her mid 60s, said the programe does not discriminate, noting that she formerly sells perfumes and spiritual items but had a passion for farming. She explained that the facilities given to her will be put to good use as she had started the business gradually but needed support to scale up.

Mrs Ojasope Abosede, a young mother of two, said she had no previous employment experience neither does she have a skill but her desire to be independent led her to NDE. “As a housewife with children I couldn’t get jobs but this programme has given me a great opportunity. It has changed my life for the better.

“The training was intensive and I am glad I endured till the end. The facilitators explained how one can start fish farming business with minimum capital. I am definitely starting the business with the facilities the Federal Government provided.”

The Director-General of NDE, Mallam Abubakar Nuhu Fikpo, at the flag-off of the facilities provision, said, “The implementation of the Agricultural Enhancement Scheme (AES) would not have been possible without the kind support and approval of the NDE supervising minister and Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Honourable Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, who has been passionately committed towards promoting agriculture as a business and attracting unemployed Nigerians into modern agribusiness.”

Furthermore, he noted that the Federal Government established the NDE to tackle the rising rate of unemployment in the country and the directorate has been carrying out these responsibilities through sensitisation, counselling and reorienting the minds of unemployed youth to deemphasise the search for non-existent white collar jobs and embrace skill acquisition provided by NDE as a viable option to wage employment and equally as a deliberate choice to self-reliant.

Fikpo added, “For almost four decades, the directorate has been tackling the rise in unemployment through series of different demand-driven skills in entrepreneurial, agricultural, vocational (technical and domestic) and enterprises creation for young school leavers and unemployed graduates searching for employment to embrace self-employment as a deliberate choice to become self-reliant, create wealth and reduce poverty.”

He went on to that the Rural Employment Promotion Department (REP) through its strategy of training in modern agricultural skills and empowerment in agribusiness engagements is one of the core programme departments saddled with the responsibility of generating employment opportunities for the unemployed youth in Nigeria. “The programme trains unemployed youth in agricultural value chain activities such as production, storage, processing, post-harvest handling and management, preservation, packaging, marketing, agricultural extension, rural sociology and off-farm activities as well as other innovative and technological driven skills in the agricultural sector.”

Then he told the beneficiaries, “The facilities you have received provides you the required opportunity for entrepreneurship. You should therefore justify these efforts by utilising the facility and putting in your best to succeed as agric entrepreneurs. The NDE attaches very high premium to this initiative due to its multiplier effect for increased job creation.”

The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) is one agency of the Federal Government that stands out among others when it comes to job creation through skill acquisition and vocational programmes, says the National President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Comrade Tommy Etim Okon.

He added that NDE has the required structure, capacity, well designed schemes and mandate to deliver the much needed job creation agenda of both the federal and state governments, therefore, should be empowered to lead the fight against unemployment.



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