On Thursday, June 11, 2019, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu flagged off Abia State Youth Employment and Social Support Operations (YESSO) program at the International Conference Center, Umuahia, with 3,863 Public Workfare (PWF) and Skills for Job (S4J) beneficiaries.
YESSO is a world bank assisted program anchored through the federal government with Abia being the last qualifying state of the scheme and the only participating state in the South East region of Nigeria. Only states with existing Human Resources development project are qualified to participate in the program.
It will be recalled that in September 2015, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu launched the Education for Employment (E4E) Scheme aimed at developing the skills of Abia youths to equip them for employment as drivers of the new industrial growth agenda in the state with emphasis on relevant technical skills acquisition. The program graduated the initial set who were trained on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills and deployed to relevant places of work.
With the huge financial requirement for the effective sustenance of the E4E program, including stipends paid to trainees, Governor Ikpeazu directed the managers of the scheme to think outside the box in sourcing for funds required to ensure the smooth running of the program. That directive led the managers of E4E program, led by UK-trained Human Resources management expert, Chief Endi Ezengwa, to engage relevant World Bank officials to support the only existing Human Resources development program in the South East region of Nigeria.
With the work already done by Governor Ikpeazu using the E4E program, the World Bank readily approved the extension of YESSO program to Abia State as the last state in Nigeria to benefit before the end of its first phase. Using the existing Abia State Single Social Register, a list of 3,863 participants were incorporated into the program from across the 3 geopolitical zones of the state with expectations that further 6 months skills training in partnership with National Directorate of Employment (NDE), will be done for 4000 graduates.
The Governor in his speech, at the International Conference Centre (ICC), emphasized that his administration will focus on job creation and advised the beneficiaries to maximize the benefits of the training which will be given to them.
Speaking earlier, the National Coordinator YESSO, Mrs. Hajara Sami, said that YESSO is an operation which was restructured in 2017 with additional finances of a hundred million ($100,000,000) dollars to address the effects of insurgency in the North East.
She said the occasion signifies the commencement of support for unemployed youths with low educational level from poor and vulnerable homes who will be benefitting from a monthly stipend of seven thousand five hundred Naira (N7, 500) through the Public Work Fare (PWF) scheme for the next one year.
She commended the government of Abia State under the leadership of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for being resolute on issues that concern the poor and vulnerable in the society, as well as for providing the enabling environment for the initiative and prayed for its effective sustenance.
Also, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. Rita Okengwu, represented by Mrs Hope Nwosu, said the initiative is a life changing project that will impact positively on the downtrodden and seeks to reach out to 3, 863 beneficiaries across six (6) Local Government Areas representing the three (3) geo-political zones of the State namely: Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South, Ohafia, Umunneochi, Ugwunagbo and Ukwa East.
She charged the beneficiaries to take their training seriously, as the payment of their monthly stipends depends largely on their attendance.
The Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Ikechi Mgbeoji, encouraged the people of Abia State to join hands with the government to take the state to greater heights as already envisioned by the state Governor.
-Additional Reporting from Nwachukwu Cynthia Chinonso,
Government House, Umuahia.