Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has said one of his administration’s greatest legacies to be bequeathed to the incoming regime in the state is the youth empowerment programme.
Okowa stated this at the graduation and presentation of starter packs to beneficiaries of Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP), Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurship Programme (YAGEP), Graduates Employment Enhancement Programme (GEEP) and Information and Communication Technology – Youth Empowerment Programme (ICT-YEP) in Asaba, on Wednesday.
He said his administration devoted reasonable resources to its various empowerment schemes for the youth to enable them acquire skills that would make them self reliant and be able to contribute to nation building.
The Governor stated that he was happy to have created the platforms, in addition to others by the Ministries of Youth Development, as well as Women Affairs and Social Development, to develop youths in the state to become entrepreneurs.
According to him, “the more youths we take off the street, the more peace we are likely to have in the state, and I have a lot of excitement today because this is an event where we are graduating many of our youths in different entrepreneurship programmes.
“This has been very dear to my heart in the last eight years and I thank God that a few days to my exit, I am participating in the graduation of the last set of entrepreneurs in my tenure.
“I know that by the special grace of God, the incoming administration will continue and improve on the programme.
“From the beginning, we talked about the SMART agenda and Prosperity for all Deltans. We have laid a foundation for that and I believe that the foundation will be built upon.
“In our second tenure, we went into the Stronger Delta agenda, and the incoming administration has promised us more with its MORE agenda. This means that you (Deltans) are going to have more of what we have here today”, he said.
Okowa commended the people of the state for voting massively for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to ensure continuity and sustainability of the skills development and empowerment programmes.
“I must truly thank Deltans who voted in support of continuity because we need to sustain a programme of this kind so that we can continue to impact on our youths.
“The stories may not all be told today but in the years to come, I believe that we are going to have great businesses springing up among the people who are here and those who have graduated from the programmes in the last eight years”, the Governor remarked.
He affirmed that the empowerment and job creation platforms had been institutionalized to ensure continuity, saying “I believe that the very steps we have taken to engage our youths in entrepreneurship is in the best interest of this state.
“We cannot but do all that we can to encourage our youths to believe in our country and our state. And, I believe that the several thousands of entrepreneurs that have grown over these last few years will speak well for us in the future.
“I appreciate the youths of Delta state and the support they have given me in the last eight years. The entrepreneurship programme has already been institutionalized because there is legislation that backs it up.
“So, I am sure that it will continue into the future”, Okowa stated.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mrs Jennifer Adasen-Efeviroro, said training youths on ICT was a veritable means of empowering them to become economically independent.
Adasen-Efeviroro lauded Okowa for championing programmes that would break the jinx of poverty and economic deprivation among youths in the state.
In his remarks, the Chief Job and Wealth Creation Officer, Prof. Eric Eboh, said Delta state entrepreneurship programmes had impacted positively on the lives and fortunes of youths, the girl child, women, artisans, traders and widows.
He said no fewer than 15,000 brand new youth entrepreneurs from STEP, YAGEP, RYSA, GEST and ICT-YEP had been created and established in the last eight years.
Eboh further said Okowa’s job creation, entrepreneurship development, skills training, youth empowerment, micro credit and enterprise grants to small businesses and women-owned enterprises had covered a total of 75,332 beneficiaries from 2015 to date.
The ceremony was attended by the Governor’s wife, Dame Edith Okowa; the Governor-elect, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori; Deputy Governor-elect, Sir Monday Onyeme; Secretary to the State Government, Chief Patrick Ukah and other top government functionaries.