Tackling high unemployment rate through strategic planning
•Beneficiaries of Osun empowerment scheme recount experiences, hail gov
History is replete with instances of how powerful ideas propounded by great thinkers helped change the course of history and the emancipation of mankind. Men and women, across the ages, have had to bring out thoughts that have broken the chains that bound them to under-development. The world, across sovereign and geographical divides, has been better for it.
In his inaugural address to his global audience in 1960, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy of the United States of America described poverty as a long-term enemy that had to be tackled pragmatically with ideas that put the greater number of people in greater amount of comfort, happiness and peace.
To achieve these ideals, strategic planning, superior but beneficial alternatives, thinking out of the box by leaders and people-centred programmes have come handy to lift humanity from the misery of poverty to the miracle of abundance and better living.It is against this backdrop that in 2011, Governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola introduced his administration’s youth intervention programme tagged the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) as part of the activities marking his first 100 days in office.
The scheme has not just taken its roots, it has empowered over 40,000 youths with life-changing skills to become better citizens. From their rustic pedestrian living, the volunteers have broken free from poverty to become employers of labour. With savings from their monthly stipend of N10,000 monthly, it was shocking to discover how the volunteers have turned their meagre income into small and cottage scale business concerns with further assistance from relations.OYES has, since 2011, become acclaimed, both locally and internationally, as a credible initiative that must be replicated and domesticated by different levels of government in Nigeria.
Recently, a team of reporters went round all the development and administrative zones of the state to assess the impact, if any of OYES through a feedback from past volunteers. The scheme had gulped N200 million monthly as stipends for the 20,000 volunteers.Inquisitively, the media felt that once the government had committed an annual expenditure of N1.2 billion to the project, it was time to look at what impact it created in the state.
The team was conducted round by Mr. Jamiu Omokose, who was nominated by the Commandante of OYES, Colonel Enibukun Oyewole (rtd), to lead journalists to the homesteads and business places of the past volunteers of the youth/social intervention scheme across the state. The plan was to make media see firsthand, the success story of the project.
During the three-day trip, it was found out that the scheme has changed the stories of many of the beneficiaries who shared their experiences with reporters.The first volunteer, a Bachelor’s degree holder, Margaret Olusola Oromakinde of Sanmi Omisakin Road, Ife City College Area, Ile-Ife, described OYES as the changer of her destiny in life, as she is presently running two different businesses of patent medicine store and a computer centre.She said: “I was nobody before I joined OYES. I am a university graduate. I graduated in the year 2006 from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife where I studied Accounting but I searched for job in and out but I couldn’t secure any until I got OYES form in 2010. I applied and I was short-listed and that gave birth to the success story of my life. Throughout this period as OYES cadet, I was saving my stipends given to us then to first establish a patent medicine and later a computer centre and I have been running the two since I started.”
She added: “Today, I have become an employer of labour because I have two people working for me and my investment as at now is worth N1.4 million, which I used the OYES stipends to establish. I have also moved further in my education because today, I am holding a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) and another Master’s of Science (M.Sc), which I didn’t have before.”
The young lady added that she would still appreciate further financial support from the government “to advance my business particularly on the quest to procure necessary equipment that can help me to progress in my business.”Also in the ancient city of Ile-Ife was Mr. Anthony Dayo Omoniyi, a holder of an OND certificate, who told journalists that “with the training I received in the course of participating in OYES, I went into fishery business, which I began with the stipends given to me through the scheme when I joined in 2011.
“I started the aquaculture business with N100,000 which I saved, and today, I can boast of investment worth over N500,000. As I am talking to you, I have persons working for me to run the fish ponds. I have maximised the little opportunity given to us through this scheme and I can say without equivocation that this scheme is truly a life-changing programme.”
Another volunteer, Dele Odewole, from Modakeke, said: “The training, experience and stipends I receive from OYES had been translated to accomplish my dreams. Today, I am into engine oil supply business and I am also selling flour in large quantity. I started these businesses with N240,000, which I saved between 2013 and 2015. As at today, my businesses are worth N1 million and I have some people working for me as attendants who I pay N8,000 each every month.”
Mrs. Rashidat Ifeoluwa Jimoh of Esuyare Area, Modakeke, told newsmen that: “I was teaching at one private school before I joined OYES in 2013. I did this because I believed so much in our governor that the scheme would bring out the best in us. Since we received our payment in good time, I saved the little I could to open a salon, a business that is now worth N500,000 because I am also selling food stuff.”
The stipends earned by ex-cadet Kayode Olaleye of Olorunsogo Esuyare area of Modakeke was used to learn surveying and estate management from which he has built his office and residence. In Ife East Local Council, Mr. Ojo Sunday Oluwakemi used his earnings to begin sale of compact discs of various Nigerian musical works, as well as running of a barbing salon.
Bayo Elufadejin is a resident of Bolorunduro in Ilesa East council area who chose shoe making as a trade. Elufadejin, whose shop is located at Bolorunduro area of the ancient city of Ilesa, told reporters that he started the business with N80,000.His words: “I learnt shoe making before I joined OYES which I couldn’t raise the financial resources to establish. But when I joined the scheme and I received some monthly stipends, I started making shoes. I began this with N80,000 and today I travel with N450,000 to buy materials to make shoes”.
The story is the same for Mr. Ejidiran Oludele of Ologede, Ilesa East Local Council who explained that “OYES has exposed me to several trainings, particularly the one I received on poultry management. Through the programme, I have been trained on effective management of poultry industry and as such, I have been managing my own poultry, which I started with little cash. I started with 50 pieces of layer birds and today it has expanded to 300 layer birds. I make N20,000 every month as profit.
“I have an investment worth N200,000. OYES has made my dreams to come to pass because through it, I have built my own house where I am living presently in Ilesa.” These accounts underscore the success of the scheme thus far, and by extension, how it has removed an army of unemployed youths from the streets of Osun and made them employers of labour since its inception in 2011.