Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN (2ndright), his Deputy, Hon. (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire (right), Secretary to the State Government, Dr (Mrs) Oluranti Adebule (left) and the representative of the First Lady of Lagos State, Mrs. Olalesi Mamora (2nd left) during the official flag-off of the Expanded Economic Empowerment Programme which will extend coverage of the ongoing skills and vocational acquisition training to 10,000 more women and youth organized by the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, LASG Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, on Thursday, August 21, 2014.
Lagos State Governor Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Thursday, 21st August, 2014, flagged off the state’s expanded Economic Empowerment Programme for residents even as past beneficiaries gave testimony of economic gains from the one-month skill acquisition and vocation programme across the state.
Governor Fashola, who spoke before a capacity audience of market women, artisans and other stakeholders in the economy of the state said the programme, which is absolutely free was being expanded in response to increasing demands by residents who, according to him, have realized its benefits.
The Governor explained, “We are not starting an empowerment programme, we are expanding what we are already doing; because you will hear from the women who have already spoken here that they were once housewives who stayed at home and waited for Daddy to go and come and when things are tough for Daddy, they were unable to do much to support.
“But from what you have heard from them, I know one who has practiced four different vocations and she has now set up shops so she is able to support when things are tough and she will be able to add to it when things are better. So instead of just sitting down at home in a globally challenging economy, we have many more people, many more women, many more young people who are able to say too that “I am going to work”.
Earlier some beneficiaries who had participated in the programme testified to its being free with the Government providing the materials, the training personnel, booklets and handouts free of charge adding that the skills acquired at the end of it has helped them to support their families economically.
In her testimony, one of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Titilayo Philips, a resident of Alimosho and an indigene of Delta State, poured encomiums on the Governor and the government of Lagos State for giving her the opportunity to learn the skill with which she can now support her family and contribute to the education of her children.
Mrs. Uche Ogugua, another beneficiary from Anambra State but resident in Ejigbo, said she learnt of the programme from a friend adding that before she undertook the programme, she was a full time housewife but has now been empowered with a skill with which she has become an employer of labour.
Also speaking, another beneficiary, Mrs. Ojei Uche, a resident of Ejigbo, said the programme provided her with the skill to tie “Gele” (Headgear) and also to learn Cosmetology adding that the one-month programme was absolutely free. She thanked the Governor for the initiative which, according to her, has made no distinction as regards to state of origin as she is from Anambra State.
Another beneficiary, Mrs. Oroja Giwa, expressed appreciation to the Governor and his team, including the Deputy Governor, Hon. (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope Adefulire, for initiating the programme which, according to her, has lifted the status of many women.
Governor Fashola also gave testimony of a former full time housewife who is today a proud owner of four shops with employees adding, “It is something that gives human beings a lot of dignity to say that “I am working”. Most of this work sometimes they do in their homes and this is the most important thing about this programme”.
The Governor praised the fashion trend that has evolved among Nigerian women from skills of tie and dye, bead-making and designing of fabrics, adding that the products which, according to him, are making the Nigerian women truly look beautiful, is already representing the face of Nigerian and African fashion across the world.
“If you look at the Deputy Governor, all of what she is wearing is part of the products of this training that has already been going on. It is the skills that you have learnt, tie and dye, stitching beads and designing this fabric. So sitting down at home, sitting down in your compound, once you have a skill you can earn a lot of money and you can support your family”, he said.
Commenting on the reason for expanding the programme, Governor Fashola said “We are expanding this initiative because the more we do, the more we are asked to do. And this time, we have said that we are providing this opportunity now for 10,000 more people”.
The Governor said although the programme is free, it is only free to those who benefit, adding, “But putting it together, the training materials, the lectures, the handouts and the booklets, the programme is not free because the booklets are not printed free.
“We are only able to do this because many of you who are already working give back something to society by paying your taxes. And that is the only way we can build a society. Whether you like it or not, this country cannot continue to depend on oil. Oil is a diminishing asset, one day it will finish”.
Thanking Lagosians for being tax compliant, Governor Fashola said even the states collecting derivation are already looking beyond oil adding, “Some others are collecting it as if it will never finish, but when it does, market will close”. He said because Lagosians pay taxes, Government could today initiate the programme “in order to build another large army of workers who can also say, “I can contribute so that others can benefit”.
He condemned insinuations from some quarters that taxes were not necessary pointing out that whoever is making such insinuation was deceiving the people. “You will hear some people come and tell you that you would not pay tax again. If you believe them, you are not living in this world”, he cautioned.
Governor Fashola, who cited examples with some states where they are either reducing the salaries of some levels of officers in order to meet the salaries of other workers or reducing staff strength as a means to achieve the same purpose, however, expressed joy that Lagos State has never had to resort to such measures to in order to pay the salary of workers.
“If you are on level this or that, we are going to reduce your salaries by X percent so that we can use it to pay level this and level that, and it has been going on for the last six months. You have not heard that in Lagos. I know of another state which says the only condition it can pay is to reduce a substantial number of the workers. There has been no retrenchment in Lagos since the life of this administration”, the Governor said.
He explained that the reason why those states are struggling is because the revenue coming from the Federal Government is reducing for every state for every month. “Our own allocation too in Lagos has reduced. If you watched television yesterday you would see the revenue has gone down. You see that the price of oil has gone down. So anybody who comes to tell you if you do this or that you won’t pay tax is lying to you”, he noted.
Underscoring the relationship between payment of tax and governance in the country, Governor Fashola said aside the fact that the major revenue source for the country is oil the allocation from the Federation Account is dwindling on a daily basis adding that this is why most states are struggling to keep their heads above water.
On the Ebola Virus, Governor Fashola said although unfortunately a few lives have been lost in the process of containing the disease, the good news is that some of the confirmed victims have recovered fully buttressing the fact that it is not a death sentence.
He urged the people to adhere to the advice of experts on personal hygiene and avoidance of unhygienic practices like urinating and defecating in the open adding that the virus is only transmitted through body fluids such as blood, urine and faeces.
Earlier in her welcome address, the state Deputy Governor, Hon. (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire, said the state’s Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB) and the skill acquisition centres have helped to generate a pool of artisans that can work in the Real Estate Sector and the retraining of artians with advanced technology and techniques forms part of the programme to bring about effectiveness, efficiency and self-reliance.
Also present at the occasion were Secretary to the State Government, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule; state Head of Service, Mrs. Josephine Williams; representative of the First Lady and wife of former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mrs. Olalesi Mamora; state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Sola Oworu; Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Hon. Oyinlomo Danmole; Commissioner for Rural Development, Hon. Cornelius Ojelabi; Special Adviser to the Governor on Rural Development, Mr. Babatunde Hunpe; market women and men as well as facilitators from the various skill acquisition centres.