By Douglas Okoro
The Ebonyi Commissioner for Economic Empowerment and Job Creation, Mr Uchenna Orji, has urged youths in the state to key into the government’s empowerment programmes to enhance their economic status.
The Commissioner made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abakaliki.
He said that states and the federal governments were working hard to ensure that Nigerian youths, especially the unemployed, had jobs doing through the various economic empowerment intervention programmes.
Orji said that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were key to national economic growth and development, adding that the economic empowerment initiatives were aimed at encouraging development of Small and Medium Enterprises through youths Involvement.
He, therefore, urged the youth to key into the initiatives to enable them to become not only economically self reliant but also employers of labour.
“The N-Power scheme aimed at reducing poverty by empowering the unemployed Nigerian youths, especially the unemployed and the South-East Development Centre (SEEDC), are Federal Government sponsored empowerment programmes.
“The SEEDC is being facilitated by the Central Bank of Nigeria where states pay counterpart funds to benefit from the empowerment scheme.
“The scheme trains enrollees in different entrepreneurship programme for three months after which the graduates of the scheme are given N3 million start-up fund to establish their own businesses.
“Apart from the Federal Government-assisted economic empowerment programmes, our state also empowers the youth under the state government revolving loan scheme where it gives N250,000 to youths and indigent women to start a business.
“The economic empowerment policy is aimed at reducing poverty and unemployment rate since government cannot employ all qualified citizens,” Orji said.
Orji said that there was correlation between poverty and crime and that the best strategy to confront crime was fighting poverty and unemployment.
“The state government has earmarked about N600 million to be given to 2,400 youths in its revolving loan scheme programme.
“It is part of strategy to help youths own businesses, curb crime and youths restiveness and permanently solve unemployment, ” he added.
He said the state government, under Gov. Dave Umahi, had significantly reduced rate of unemployment and added that the loan scheme had recorded massive success since introduction in 2016.
He said government would not rest on its oars until every unemployed youth of the state was meaningfully engaged in legitimate enterprise