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Saturday, January 16, 2010



OVER the years the challenge of unemployment has bedevilled the nation. The growing number of the unemployed necessitated the need for urgent government intervention. As part of efforts to tackle the challenge the federal government, in 1986 decided to establish the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) with the clear mandate to promote self-employment through skills acquisition and business training. Over the years it has put in place various programmes and schemes aimed at creating jobs for the teeming unemployed people of Nigeria. Unemployment as it were, is no respecter of persons. If able bodied individuals with requisite skills and qualifications can hardly secure gainful employment, the physically challenged no doubt have a herculean task finding a dignified source of livelihood. Recent figures indicate that between 19-23 million Nigerians are physically challenged in one form or the other.

These Nigerians are mostly left to fend for themselves and compete unequally with the rest of the labour force to earn a living. In the past two years the NDE under the leadership of Mallam Abubakar Mohammed took a bold step at training the physically challenged and indeed other vulnerable groups in the society in vocational trades. These groups include Widows, Orphans, Internally displaced persons, Persons living with HIV/AIDS, Commercial Sex Workers who have a big opportunity to acquire vocational skills with a view to becoming self reliant. This window of opportunity for persons with special needs is intended to impart marketable skills to its beneficiaries in order to reduce unemployment, street begging, armed robbery and other violent crimes; as well as the removal of disillusionment among vulnerable and or disabled persons; and ensure they have a sense of self-worth and self-confidence through the acquisition of marketable skills. THE beneficiaries were to be fully integrated into the socio-economic mainstream of the society thereby reducing poverty.

In the implementation of this scheme, the DIRECTORATE engaged VULNERABLE groups in a range of trade including Tie & Dye, Shoe & leather works, Soap and/or body cream making, Beads stringing and Candle making. Other trades taught include Hair dressing, production of Polythene bags as well as Industrial tailoring which goes beyond the traditional tailoring to products such as quilted bed sheets, handbags, shower accessories, pyjamas and car seat covers. This wide range of vocational trades provides the intending trainees with the opportunity to choose what they can easily fit into. Under the programme each state 5o recruits .They are provided with stipends to facilitate their transportation to and from the training venues. On completion of training, the outstanding graduates are considered for resettlement in collaboration with NGOs, Local and State Governments, politicians and other public spirited individuals. This is aimed at launching them into self employment and to discourage them from begging, and living a life of despondency.

Records show that this initiative had been pilot-tested in Kaduna and Ekiti states with remarkable success, and has now been extended to all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. Statistics from recent evaluation of the first set of resettled graduates of this scheme shows that over 98% are in gainful self-employment while the rest are in paid employment. It is gratifying to note that none of the graduates has gone back to street begging. In the course of the training and the resettlement of the beneficiaries, major stakeholders in employment and poverty reduction have expressed satisfaction with the scheme. They can now assert to mobilize and sensitize all tiers of government as well as private agencies and non-governmental organizations of the need to help the less privileged in the society. The message of the DG OF NDE, Mallam Abubakar Mohammed, is THAT THERE IS ability in disability. It is therefore imperative that more efforts are channeled into providing the necessary platform for the realization of the potential in persons with special needs or the vulnerable groups in the society, the quest to reduce poverty and to create wealth will soon be achieved. All well meaning Nigerians, philanthropists, non-governmental organizations, State and Local governments should collaborate with the NATIONAL DIRECTORATE OF EMPLOYMENT IN TACKLING THE UNIQUE FORM OF UNEMPLOYMENT. THE MOST VULNERABLE GROUPS DESERVE ALL THE SUPPORT THEY NEED IN ORDER TO REMOVE THE IMAGE OF UNEMPLOYMENT FROM THEM.

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