This Thursday, 3rd of August 2017, Forbes acclaimed richest man in Africa, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, will storm Umuahia with two Former Governors of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi and Dr Chris Ngige alongside renowned industrialist and champion of Made In Nigeria vehicles, Dr Innocent Chukwuma (aka Innoson) for the graduation ceremony of the first products of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu's Education for Employment (E4E) scheme.
While running for office in 2015 candidate Okezie Ikpeazu promised to drastically reduce unemployment in the state using various tools. He emphasized the need for technical education to produce readily employable Human Resources that will drive the industrial growth of Abia State and support Volume expansion of Made In Aba brands
Shortly after his inauguration, Governor Ikpeazu set up the E4E program and saddled UK trained Human Resources development specialist, Chief Endi Ezengwa, with the task of giving life to his campaign promise to Abians.
Over 36,000 Abians were identified and included in the database of those requiring various trainings in ICT, Beauty Therapy (hair dressing, make up, weaving etc), Fashion Designing (Tailoring and clothe making), Leatherworks (shoe and bags makers), Welding and Fabrication, Hospitality, Waste Management, Health and Social Care, Carpentry works and Security.
While undergoing training, the registered students were given monthly stipends to cover the cost of transportation to the training venues scattered across the state and provided with learning kits and other needed materials
The first set of trainees, who indicated interest in ICT, have completed their hands-on training and took their National Business and Technical Examinations Board exams on the 16th and 17th of June 2017 at the Abia State e-Library Complex located at Ogurube Layout Umuahia.
All the successful students will receive National Board of Technical Education (NBTE) certificates that will make them employable anywhere in Nigeria.
At a recent meeting with Dangote in Abuja, the Governor of Abia State mentioned the E4E program to the Chairman of Dangote Group and solicited his support to employ graduates of the scheme within his organization. Dangote not only accepted to take as many as his businesses can accommodate he also agreed to witness the unique graduation ceremony as Guest of Honor.
Mr Peter Obi is billed to present a paper on 'The role of a competent workforce in the development of commerce and industry in the South East." As an industrialist and former Governor of Anambra State, largely credited with the transformation of that state, this program promises to be a must attend event for all those interested in the development of Abia State and the South East region of Nigeria.
Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige also confirmed that he will be attending the graduation ceremony to lend support to what he sees as "a laudable program that other serious states should replicate". He recently visited the Abia Stste Multidisciplinary Skills Centre set up by the Ikpeazu administration. The facility will serve as the hub of the Federal Government initiated N-POWER program for the South East.
Meanwhile Chief Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson motors shares a lot in common with the Governor of Abia State. As the maker of Innoson Motors he has demonstrated passion to lift Nigeria out of recession and economic dependence on oil through energizing local production and consumption of Nigerian made vehicles. The Governor of Abia State is a multiple award winning champion and Chief Promoter of Made in Aba brands that includes fashion wears and accessories, shoes, locally fabricated machines and equipment.
It is exciting to note that the initial investment of Governor Ikpeazu in the E4E scheme is now attracting international donor agencies such as the World Bank. He showed commitment to the drive to produce employable manpower in the state that will support his industrial revolution and the world took note and are now ready to support him. Locally, even the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has indicated interest In funding graduates of the scheme who wish to set up shop on their own.
Recently, when I walked into one of the training rooms of the E4E program located at the e-library complex, one physically challenged participant tearfully told me to convey her appreciation to Governor Ikpeazu for "giving me the opportunity to learn computer work that will enable me work from even my wheel chair and survive rather than beg for alms on the streets".
Don't ask me how I felt after listening to her.
We are making progress in Abia State, under the watch of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and soon it will all come together to make Abia globally competitive rather than competing within Nigeria.
God is helping His Own State.