Realizing the significant need for a skilled workforce to boost employment and economic growth, the foremost and leading civil rights advocacy group; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has extolled the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on his commitment to create employment opportunities.
Particularly HURIWA said it is pleased with the recent statement by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) Development and Director General, Enugu SMEs Centre; Hon. Arinze Chilo-Offiah, who announced the decision of the state government to train more 500 youths in various fields of innovative endeavour in addition to the 500 already trained through the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) Centre.
HURIWA, according to a statement jointly signed by the National Coordinator; Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and Media Affairs Director; Zainab Yusuf stated that with digital skills being the jobs of the future, Enugu State is in line to have well skilled Techies to support start-ups and Tech companies in the country and the continent as a whole.
“The Enugu SME Center has partnered with private sectors known for their expertise, to ensure that the technical, professional, and vocational capacities of the youths are fully built. The Enugu Tech, in partnership with Utiva, dealt with training on programming and product design.
“This was born out of the conviction that tech is the future, and for Enugu to thrive, it had to have a future in tech. The presence of tech experts in Enugu can also ensure a place for tech giants like Google and Microsoft to operate in the state. Enugu Tech has graduated over 500 persons, with an additional 500 yet to be trained,” HURIWA observed.
Also, following the recent release of the Global StartupBlink Ecosystem Index Report of 2021, HURIWA revealed that there has been a whirlwind of multiple emotions; surprise and happiness. “But the common question on everybody’s lips is ‘how’? With the rise of Nigeria’s ranking fuelled by its massive consumer market and more than 500 active start-ups, one of the largest in Africa, very few expected that Enugu will make a huge contribution to this. More surprising is Enugu’s rank as the first South-eastern Nigeria state to make the list and the 978th globally.
“There is no doubt then that Gov. Ugwuanyi has etched his name on the sands of time, as a Governor whose vision has sighted Enugu state as a bride to be courted by every South-east man or woman for many generations to come and is working assiduously to consummate this reality.
“The mission to put Enugu on the global map led the Governor through the Small and Medium Entrepreneur Centre to embark on numerous projects that were specifically designed to empower the people of Enugu and provide them with the necessary skills.
“Therefore, there is no gainsaying the fact that Enugu under the dispensation of genuine leadership of a man celebrated with the epaulet of ‘Gburugburu’ by his people offers a good example of how a combination of sustained investment in nurturing small scale enterprises and removing all stifling bureaucratic structures can launch a state’s economy onto a growth trajectory”.
Recalling that in 2018, World Bank Doing Business in Nigeria report had put Enugu State only behind Abuja and Lagos and a mid-2019 report by the National Bureau of Statistics, named Enugu state as one of the six states in Nigeria that recorded the highest net gains in full-time employment between 2017 and 2018 with a figure of 122,333, HURIWA noted that it is further proof that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s vision to make Enugu a major economic hub is yielding dividends.
Furthermore, HURIWA averred that this Enugu Tech (Programming and Program Design), which is part of the programs aimed at enhancing the skills of the people of Enugu, so they could become entrepreneurs in addition to alleviating the challenges of unemployment in the state is a testament that job creation is evidently the prime commitment of Gov. Ugwuanyi as it was the first item on his Four-Point Agenda; a to-do list that clearly outlined the administration’s priority goals which included employment generation; enhanced social services and good governance; rural development; security and justice.
Continuing, HURIWA, informed that one of the takeaways from this gesture is that Governor Ifeanyi’s focus is to define human capital as a sector that should be funded and invested in, just as it is done in the agricultural sector, manufacturing, the creative industries and all.
Besides, being shaped by the understanding that difficult business environment remained a major factor often cited by investors as the reason Nigeria is hardly a choice destination for foreign direct investment despite its huge potential HURIWA’s belief is that the creation of the SMEs centre by the Ugwanyi led administration of Enugu state was prompted by the dire prognosis that most small businesses in the local communities die before their fifth anniversary.
“Generally, the Enugu Youth Empowerment Scheme has contributed immensely to the rank that Enugu currently holds. The digital marketing program has equipped and is still equipping the individuals in the state with the skill through which they can promote their businesses, placing them on the global map.
“The youths are trained on high income earning digital marketing skills. In November 2020, 300 youths graduated from the program, and have gone ahead to establish trailblazing startups, an establishment whose reflections are widely acknowledged presently. The cost of this training, alongside others, was also subsidised to N50,000 from N250,000 with the funding provided by the Enugu SME Center to participants through the Human Capital Development Loan; one of the many programs under the Human Capital Development Loan Initiative.
“Of course, the vision of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, which is to facilitate easier access to resources required by entrepreneurs, SMEs and players in that environment to achieve sustainable development in Enugu State is gradually metamorphosing into reality.
“With the number of programs the SMEs Centre has spearheaded in Enugu, the successes and development in Enugu have taken a positive turn, as the State Government successfully registered Business Names for over 6,000 Startups, a number which is key to the recent global recognition.
Furthermore, HURIWA pointed out that unlike the trend whereby virtually all politicians seeking the office of governor voiced their commitment to similarly lofty goals, Governor Ugwuanyi’s empowerment programs together with NBS’s job analysis across states has shown that his pledge was no typical campaign rhetoric.
Additionally, the rights group expressed gratification in the sense that the Governor did not succumb to the temptation of using the civil service as a job- dispensing point, which is a rather simplistic choice mostly embraced by politicians but tragically, turns out a shot in the foot as it merely further bloats the workforce and breeds inefficiency. “What he did, rather, was invest resources to grow the potential of small businesses and laying foundations conducive to the emergence of new ones”.
Beyond the fact that it helped create more jobs, HURIWA expressed that it has also boosted the state’s internal revenue once ranked among the best 10 in the country by BudgIT; a civic group that advocates transparency in governments’ earnings and expenditure.
“Since 2015, Enugu has benefited largely from insightful policies which continuously give the state a sound financial base. These, plus prudent handling of the state’s resources by the Gov. Ugwuanyi administration also underlie Enugu’s listing among Lagos and Kano as Nigeria’s Most Financially Stable States by the Financial Derivatives Company.
“Such statistics offer a strong sense of validation, but none offers a greater sense of satisfaction than the knowledge that they are both in accord with reality and not a mere fleeting accolade. Gov. Ugwuanyi’s Enugu Tech (Programming and Program Design) and other empowerment programs of his reinforces this strong optimism.
“Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has remained committed as he was in his first term to improving the people’s wellbeing through sensible socio-economic policies, not grandiose ribbon developments that superficially impress but hardly yield any existential benefits to the citizens “.