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Okowa’s blazing trail in girls, youths’ empowerment

By Utomi Jerome-Mario
05 May 2022   |   3:26 am
Sir: Aside from is the tenacity with which Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has approached human capital development in the state/youth empowerment in the past six to seven years, the governor has indeed demonstrated that skill development remains the only major parameter...

Sir: Aside from is the tenacity with which Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has approached human capital development in the state/youth empowerment in the past six to seven years, the governor has indeed demonstrated that skill development remains the only major parameter through which the youth in the state who voted for him can achieve competitive advantage edge over their peers in other states and in other parts of the world.
 
He has planned, organised and conducted skill development programmes for his subjects as a way of controlling negative attitudes among youths in the state. Key example is the recent ceremony held in Asaba, where Okowa doled out cash awards to 181 beneficiaries in the Skills Training and Entrepre­neurship Programme (STEP), Youth Agricultural Entre­preneurship Programme (YAGEP), as well as Girls Em­powerment Skill Training (GEST).

While advising the beneficiaries to be good ambas­sadors of the state, Okowa urged them to always keep records of their business dealings so they would be able to adequately monitor their growth and progress.

He believes that the way out of the unemployment quagmire is to equip the youth with the technical know-how, vocational skills, values and resources to become self-employed, as distinct from one-off empowerment. The sectors and activities covered by his programmes include agriculture, agricultural value chain services, vocational skills-based microenterprises and cottage enterprises. Furthermore, the training and mentoring processes aim beyond raising entrepreneurs to producing leaders and managers that have high levels of personal responsibility and effectiveness. Okowa is pleased that after six years of faithful implementation of these programmes, “we have trained and given business support packages to several thousands of youths.”

Following the success of these interventions and other efforts in promoting technical education, Delta State was ranked the Best State in Human Capital Development in the 2017 States Peer Review by the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria. Also in 2020, Delta was adjudged to be the Second Least Poor State, coming only after Lagos, Nigeria’s business hub, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS).  

Okowa is a believer in the words of the late former Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Kofi Annan, that there is no tool for development more effective than empowerment of women, and no other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality.
 
He has, therefore, touched the untouchable and ensured massive construction of roads everywhere. He has made sure that programmes for the girl child has emanated in Delta State where the girl child is no longer dependent on her parents. Business opportunities have been provided for them. Okowa has made sure that there is peace in all those areas.

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the programme coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA).