By Douglas Okoro
Mr Nnanna Okoroafor, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi, has called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to sustain the present N-Power social investment programme.
Okoroafor, a former desk Officer for Ebonyi N-Power scheme who lauded the achievements of the scheme made the call at a news conference in Abakaliki on Tuesday.
He said that no fewer than 70,000 persons from the South-East had benefitted from the graduates and non graduates aspects of the programme, while more than 500, 000 were currently benefitting across the country.
The party chieftain also noted that the programme had lifted thousands of people who were beneficiaries from poverty and joblessness.
He said that many graduates and non graduates’ beneficiaries of the scheme had become self employed and owners of small scale industries and businesses while many others had also become employers of labour.
Okoroafor, who applauded the Federal Government for initiating the economic programme aimed at reducing poverty and unemployment, said that there was no house-hold in the South-East that had not benefitted from the scheme.
“I was former N-Power desk officer in Ebonyi who oversaw implementation of the scheme in the state between 2016 and 2018 and I must say that the social investment programme has impacted positively on the lives of the people of Nigeria.
“Beneficiaries of the programme from Ebonyi were drawn not based on political party consideration but purely on merit as a number of criteria were considered for a person to qualify in either the graduate or non graduate aspects of the scheme.
“Today, almost every house-hold in South-East has one beneficiary or two in the scheme and I am happy to say that many of the beneficiaries have been lifted out of poverty and joblessness.
“I visited projects sites, live stock farms and business sites of the beneficiaries from every part of the state and it was quite amazing and encouraging what the beneficiaries have been able to do with the grants given to them.
“Also, those who are engaged in teaching, health and other sectors of the economy are doing very well in their chosen professions,’’ Okoroafor said.
He said that the ‘Next Level’ administration had promised to scale up the number of beneficiaries which according to him stood at 500, 000 persons in the federation to one million.
Okoroafor, who is presently the facilitator of APC sponsored social investment programmes in the South-East, urged those that would make the Buhari’s list of federal appointees to implement programmes that would positively touch the lives of the citizens.
He also charged APC leaders in the South-East including the elected and appointed officials to synergise their energies in order to attract more development to the zone.
“Our leaders from the zone should begin now to strategise by building political synergy that will help attract development to the zone.
“They should build structures from the grassroots up to the national level which shall become rallying points for the people.
“Our leaders should be open, truthful, sacrificial and show exemplary character in their conduct and behaviour in order to carry the people along,’’ he said.
He commended Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the former Minister of Science and Technology for attracting landmark projects to Ebonyi, including the Cassava Processing Plant at Ezillo in Ishielu Local Government area among others.
Okoroafor who also applauded the developmental strides of Gov Dave Umahi, especially in road infrastructure and urban renewal programmes urged him to appoint those who would share his development vision in his next cabinet.