The First Lady, Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, at the weekend flagged-off a training for women in income generating activities, a collaboration between the pet project of the wife of the president: Future Assured, and the National Directorate of Employment (NDE). The programme which kicked off with the flag-off ceremony will see 1,200 women trained in skill acquisition and empowerment, in all the six geo-political zones of the country. SOJI-EZE FAGBEMI, who attended the flag-off ceremony in Katsina, reports.
It was a carnival-like event at the weekend when the wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, through her pet project- Future Assured, in partnership with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) gathered thousands of women, in Katsina, Katsina State capital, to flag-off a training programme for women on income generating activities, skills acquisition and empowerment.
The programme aimed at confronting poverty and widespread unemployment among the women population in the country, was held at the Katsina State Secretariat Complex and had in attendance the Governor of the State, Honourable Aminu Bello Masari; the Acting Director General, NDE, Mr Kunle Obayan, who represented the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige; the immediate past Director General of the NDE, Mallam Abubakar Mohammed; the Chairperson, Governor’s Wife Forum and wife of Zamfara State Governor, Asma’u Abdul’aziz Yari Abubakar; the Deputy Governor of Katsina State, Manir Yusuf and the Director Planning, NDE, Wosila Umar.
With the flag-off by the wife of the president, the training programme commenced in Katsina, the North West geo-political zone, with 200 women who will be trained in various skills that will empower them to become self-reliance.
In her keynote address, Mrs Buhari said women constitute a critical vulnerable group in the society. Despite the challenges against women, she noted that, however, women in Nigeria are consistently taking their place to ensure a better Nigeria.
To this extent, she pointed out that carefully articulated programmes to address the peculiar needs of women must be regularly implemented.
“This is why we are gathered here today to commence the training of 200 women who have been carefully selected from all the local government areas of Katsina State to benefit from the exercise.
“I am glad that my Future Assured programme was able to find a willing and ready partner in the National Directorate of Employment to execute this training and empowerment programme,” she said.
She explained that the environment specific skills have been identified to which the participants will be exposed to a hands-on training approach. She said in line with her partnership arrangements with the NDE, another set of 200 women will commence training in Lagos, while the partnership is prepared to expand the scope of the collaboration by engaging 200 women each in selected states in the North East, North Central, South East and South South zones of the federation.
The First Lady expressed optimism, that their joint effort will strengthen the hands of our women towards becoming major players in the economic development of the country.
“I have no doubt in my mind that when economically empowered, women in Nigeria would contribute significantly to the diversification of our national economy. Future Assured believes strongly in empowering women in income wielding activities which in the long run will bring about inclusive growth in the economy,” she said.
While commending the governor of Katsina State for the critical role he played in making the exercise a reality and the Minister of Labour for his support through the NDE which has provided the platform for the collaboration to take off, Mrs Buhari assured the minister and the NDE that through their collective efforts, “we will make a positive difference among women in the country.”
To the selected women participating in the empowerment exercise, the wife of the president advised them to commit themselves to the ideals of the programme.
“The best way to reciprocate the efforts of the Future Assured Programme and the NDE is to pay attention to your teachers and in structures, learn the skills well, such that you will be able to compete with other practitioners when you eventually begin your own small scale businesses. It is also one sure way to secure your future, that of your children and the next generations to come,” she said.
In his address, Senator Ngige said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has deployed several programmes to deliver decent jobs to unemployed Nigerians. He added that between January and August this year, a total of 17,938 persons have benefitted from the various skills acquisition and empowerment programmes of the NDE under the popular four-core programmes of vocational skills, agricultural skills, entrepreneurial skills as well as activities in the public works sector.
The minister, who was represented by the acting director general of NDE, said the collaboration between Mrs Aisha Buhari and the NDE in training and empowering women is another dimension to the government’s efforts which seeks to give women the necessary impetus to be relevant and active in the march towards a new and better Nigeria.
He also assured the First Lady and all Nigerians that the NDE will continue to provide innovative and environment specific initiatives that will assist in mass employment creation especially as it relates to decent jobs which is a cardinal issue in the International Labour Organisation convention to which Nigeria is signatory.
“I am confident that as we continue with the current momentum in our employment generation efforts, all the targets we have set towards ameliorating the negative consequences of a prolonged period of job deficit in Nigeria will be met and surpassed,” Ngige said.
The minister commended Mrs Buhari for choosing to collaborate with the NDE in reducing the scourge of mass unemployment and assured the Katsina State government that the NDE will continue to partner with him towards providing decent employment for the people of the state. He however warned the trainees to abide by the rules governing the training exercise.
Obayan in his remarks, said that the flag-off marks yet another milestone in the efforts of the NDE in contributing its own quota to the ongoing rebuilding process in the country.
Obayan, whose speech was read by the Mrs Wosila Umar, stated that mass unemployment is a serious challenge facing the country and must find effective initiatives at mitigating the situation. He said the present effort is a product of the synergy between the NDE and the Future Assured initiative of the wife of the President.
“Your excellency, your passion for the betterment of women in Nigeria at a time such as this is not only commendable but equally connects with the statutory mandate of the NDE. Your presence here today further underscores your commitment to that which you strongly believe in which is to secure the future today through hard work and innovative thinking,” he said.
The director general pointed out that the social burden of mass unemployment has made it imperative for any responsible government the world over to think outside the box in order to address the ugly trend. The twin problem of unemployment and poverty, according to him constitute unpleasant distractions to any government because “they lead to a multiplicity of anti-social conducts which continue to engender more poverty and social imbalance.”
He posited that the principle of partnership or collaboration in tackling mass unemployment is the paradigm shift that will drive the new quest for employment for all classes of the unemployed in Nigeria.
“For us in the NDE, women are a critical group in this new order and we are glad the mother of the nation has taken the lead in this direction. Our hope in NDE is that at the end of this training, 200 new small scale businesses would have been injected into the economy of Katsina State,” he added.