Delta Governor, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, on Thursday, called on Deltans to be wary of deliberate mischief against the state government by its opponent, saying that no volume of devious criticism could taint the developmental efforts of his administration.
Okowa gave the charge at the graduation of 1,000 Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) and Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurship Programme (YAGEP) beneficiaries of the 2020/2021 programme cycle held at Events Centre, Asaba.
The ceremony marks the formal closure of the 2020/2021 cycle of STEP and YAGEP, the 6th in the job creation programme series since 2015.
TNC correspondent gathered that the cycle covered 1,000 beneficiaries comprising 654 STEPreneurs and 346 YAGEPreneurs, including 25 Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), one in each of the 25 Local Government Areas.
Speaking at the ceremony, Governor Okowa noted that only enemies of the youths would criticise what his administration was doing for the youths of the state.
He warned that henceforth, the state government would no longer tolerate people registering in other programmes after they had been trained and empowered in another programme.
According to the governor, such acts were inimical to the progress of the state as perpetrators were blocking the chances of other Deltans from benefiting from the various job creation schemes.
“Recently I hear some people criticise what we are doing for the youths of our state, they speak in manners that are becoming nauseating.
“We don’t want to praise ourselves as a government but when I hear some people saying that the Dr Okowa’s administration is doing nothing, I begin to wonder whether they are in Delta State or whether they are talking about other states.
“While we recognise that we are doing a lot in infrastructure in such a manner that has earned us recognition, I know that our greatest strong point is in ensuring that we give our youths the necessary skills to keep them strong and keep hope alive.
“Our youth training programmes, both the STEPreneurship, YAGEPreneurship and other programmes, are our strongest point and we have no apologies about it.
“We know that today Delta is one of the most peaceful states and it is because the youths are working in collaboration with the government.
“We will ignore what they say but it is important for us as youths that as we go into the future, to realise that in order to keep the future of the current youths and those who are growing up, we must learn to exercise our political rights in such a manner that we do not waste our votes for those who do not mean well.
“I say so because anybody criticizing what we are doing in collaboration with our youths, does not obviously mean well for the state and such a person is an enemy to the youths.
“I want to urge you to stay strong, focused and we believe that together we can ensure the continuity and the growth of our various youth entrepreneurship programmes if you partner with us as we go into the new dispensation that is coming.
“I am confident that you will make us proud going into the future and we will proud that we laid the foundation and that was built upon,” he stated.
The Governor lauded the Job and Wealth Creation Bureau for its diligent and professional handling of the programmes to become a major success story of his administration.
He assured that with the enabling law establishing the Delta State Job and Wealth Creation Bureau, the state’s job creation programmes would be sustained beyond his administration, while commending the youths of the state for their dexterity and focus, assuring that in years to come the benefits of the programme would be manifest nationwide.
“You have made me proud as a governor and I must return my thanks to all the youths who have gone through this programme because if you had failed it would have discouraged us from continuing with it.
“I thank the Delta State House of Assembly because the Delta State Job and Wealth Creation Bureau has been legislated on and signed into law.
“We have expanded it beyond the Job and Wealth Creation Office including the RYSA Programme in the Ministry of Youths, GEST, WESAP and the ICT-YEP,” he said.
He announced a cash reward of N500,000 each for 75 outstanding STEPreneurs and YAGEPreneurs adopted into the Job Creation Hall of Fame.
Welcoming guests earlier, Director-General of the Delta State Job and Wealth Creation Bureau, Professor Eric Eboh said all 1,000 beneficiaries have been duly trained in occupational, entrepreneurial and business skills and have been given starter packs and shop rent support.
He disclosed that the beneficiaries were given starter packs and support packages in batches upon successful completion of all the phases of training and fulfilling the eligibility requirements.
He said, “Altogether, the job creation programmes – STEP and YAGEP – have covered 6,074 beneficiaries from 2015 to date.
“This number is part of the expanding portfolio of the state government’s job creation and youth empowerment programmes including RYSA, GEST, WESAP and ICT-YEP.
“In addition to the 1,000 graduands gathered here today, we have assembled a small sample of outstanding previous STEPreneurs and YAGEPreneurs already profiled in the STEP & YAGEP Hall of Fame.“
Ebo said the Bureau has created some institutional development tools developed and already being applied by Delta Job and Wealth Creation Bureau to ensure organizationally and programme sustainability into the future.
“The sustainability tools include our online programme management information system (MIS); the Job Creation Magazine series published since 2015; the satellite-based digital survey map of all verified YAGEP farm enterprises throughout the state and the 5-Yr Masterplan of Delta State Job and Wealth Creation Bureau,” Prof. Eboh stated.
Responding, Gure Oghenetejiri, a STEPreneur in POP, Screeding and Painting from Ughelli North and Onakpoya Evuarhere, a Poultry YAGEPreneur from Ethiope East commended Governor Okowa and the state government for the life opportunity given to them to acquire skills and become business owners.