Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN (middle) being presented with portrait frames in appreciation for his support for the Enterprise & Employability Project by Mr. Gabriel Eyelade (left) and Bamisedun Fatima (right) during the 2014 Youth Stakeholders Forum organized by the Lagos State Government in conjunction with Ignite Enterprise & Employability Project and the After School Graduate Development Centre (AGDC) at Ten Degrees Event Centre, Oregun, Ikeja, on Saturday, December 06, 2014.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN on Saturday, 6th December, 2014, attended the fifth edition of the Youth Stakeholders Forum, organized by the state Ignite Enterprise and Employability Project in partnership with the After School Graduate Development Centre (AGDC), informing that the administration in partnership with the Chair Centre is providing a soft loan of N110 million for 1,100 trainees under the beauty, photography and agriculture sectors.
The Governor who spoke at the 10 Degrees Event Centre, Oregun added that the government has realized that some of the trainees under the AGDC programme do not have money to procure equipment and that the Chair Centre owned by the Chairman of AGDC, Mrs Ibukun Awosika has come up with an idea to provide a seed sum of N10 million that would be available to 100 trainees at N100,000 each over a 26 month period.
He explained that the state government has decided to support the initiative by providing an additional N100 mIllion that would be available to 1000 trainees thus making the seed sum a total of N110 million that is available to 1,100 trainees.
He reiterated that the first six months would serve as a moratorium period when the business is expected to gain a foothold and be steady and that for the following 20 months, the lucky person would pay back N5,000 monthly to offset it.
Governor Fashola maintained that the fund would be managed through a micro finance bank but that each of the beneficiaries must realize that the soft loan can indeed solve the problem of collateral because with the transaction, the trainees are building their collateral before the financial institution.
He urged all those who intend to apply for the soft loan online to have a business plan in place and that the mindset of the trainees should be about identifying that there is a problem to which a solution is being proffered through the proposal.
He reminded that as each of the beneficiaries pays back and the loan is rolled back, it is opening new doors to others who have not benefitted and allows the trainees to create a credit history with the financial institution.
He noted that the intervention and several other ones have been made possible with the usage of tax payers money by the ruling party in Lagos State which is the All Progressives Congress (APC), adding that if the people want a continuation, they know what step to take during the next general elections.
Taking a retrospective look at how the AGDC programme evolved, the Governor said it was about finding solutions to people who graduated but have no basic work experiences that could make them employable.
He stressed that one of the first steps taken by the state government when it opted to support the programme that was originally conceived by the Chairman of AGDC, Mrs Ibukun Awosika was to start giving young people the opportunity to convert skills.
Governor Fashola said the AGDC intervention has brought about several positive developments such as in the operation of the Primary Health Care Centres where the trainees are working and have helped to achieve an increase in the level of immunization for children in Lagos.
He added that for the past five years, Lagos State has remained polio free because no child has been infected as the immunization coverage of the State has been very extensive.
He reiterated that when similar problems reared its head with the performance of students in public schools in selected science subjects, the state government provided conversion training for graduates in the selected subjects who taught students in the deficient subjects.
The Governor stated that the measure has brought about improvement in performance of students in public examinations from an initial 7 percent to 11 percent, 18 percent, 21 percent, 38 percent, 41 percent and this year, 45 percent.
He noted that he finds it rather puzzling that Nigeria complains of lack of electricity when it has several graduate engineers who are without work and that this informed the resuscitation of the technical colleges where skills could be imparted by experts such as the recently opened Skippers Electrical plant located at the Government Technical College Ikotun.
He said other aspects already being taken care of by the technical colleges are the Samsung Centre in Agidingbi where the trainees are immediately provided employment after graduation as well as the one in Epe which is powered by Julius Berger to train people in tiling and masonry.
Governor Fashola said even for waste management, new vistas have been opened at the main landfill sites in Olusosun and Soluos where methane gas is being extracted, bottled and sold, adding that from waste products like sachets and papers, government is embarking on recycling.
According to him, over the last few years, government has built new roads, schools, hospitals and courtrooms but that such infrastructure do depreciate and that for some discerning people such areas needing maintenance represent sources of opportunity to be productive.
He added that when he recently signed into law the bill creating the facility management company, it was about ensuring that all the schools, general hospitals, maternal and child care hospitals and stadium that are under them would be maintained through a process that would create jobs for people.
He stated that in Nigeria of today, jobs would exist for those who can find opportunities in areas that require fixing adding that people must be ready to reassess the society with a fresh pair of glasses.
In an interactive session which was also part of the event, the Governor told the participants that the individual should assess his area of strength because not everybody should see him or herself as an entrepreneur because it is virtually impossible for everybody to be an entrepreneur.
He urged the participants to refrain from the joining the bandwagon mentality adding that several business undertakings have floundered because the promoters decided to venture into it because that was the business many people around them were also going into.
He was of the opinion that entrepreneurship training may be better started at the tertiary education level when the career paths have been formed as opposed to suggestion by a trainee that it should be started from secondary school level.
While responding to a complaint about some landlords who charge ‘excessive’ agency fees and the call for introduction of legislation to that effect, the Governor said several years ago, Lagos State enacted a law which prohibits landlords from charging tenants to pay for the services of lawyers hired by the landlords adding that what he expects is that any tenant who wishes to enter into any contractual agreement should seek the service of a lawyer before doing so.
He said continuity of his programmes cannot be a problem because from day one, most of the policies have been driven by people who are doing the right things and would continue after him.
On the patronage of locally made goods by those in position of authority, the Governor said it is a gradual process which would be embraced by all and sundry as time passes by, adding, however, that makers of such products should also promote it by using the products.
On what specific action is going on in the field of agriculture in the State, Governor Fashola said a lot has been done in the sector, explaining that since the State government cannot be the farmer but can only support in diverse ways which he enumerated.
Reacting to a plea that the canal set back in Surulere should be approved for a farming business undertaking, the Governor said the canal set back is not a place to do business but exists to protect the canal and the area where it is located.
He added that the affected person should rather come and apply for some of the farmlands that have been identified by the AGDC for business purposes.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of AGDC, Mrs Ibukun Awosika said since the commencement of the employability class in 2012, a total of 1,200 trainees made up of 12 streams have been elevated with 75 percent of them gaining employment.
She added that the LASG IGNITE/AGDC Programme has facilitated their moving to the next stage of their lives and in many ways the AGDC has sought practical solutions to adding values to the lives of so many people.
The state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs Sola Oworu while speaking said a total of 6,210 applications have been received since the commencement of the IGNITE Employability training programme and that 3, 120 people were screened.
She added that a total of 400 graduates have been trained out of which 62 percent of them are already in employment while 8 percent of them have gone for further studies just as 11 percent are in entrepreneurship.
She identified the focused areas under the IGNITE Employability Training to include Agro Allied, Entertainment, Fashion and construction, saying limitless opportunities exist for graduates in the field.
The Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board, Engineer Olawunmi Gasper, said the IGNITE/AGDC programme is achieving successes because AGDC is getting it right.
He added that what LASTVEB is doing is to conduct the training in phases as it cannot take on everybody but hopes it would get the youths off the street through the programme.
The Governor was later presented with gifts which include the names of all the 1,200 beneficiaries/participants in the LASG IGNITE/AGDC programme since its inception in appreciation of his unwavering commitment to youth employability.
Prominent among those who joined the Governor at the event were members of the State Executive Council including the Special Adviser on Commerce and Industry, Mr Seye Oladejo, resource persons, several guests and participants.