By Our Labour Correspondent
President Goodluck Jonathan has told government establishments that it is ‘total waste’ for them to train Nigerians without giving them jobs.
He made this known in Abuja last week during the inauguration of a jobs board to be headed by Vice President Namadi Sambo.
“I have observed over a period that agencies of government are more interested in training”, he said adding that “my conviction is that if you train 100 people and none of them is either self employed or employed by any corporation; that is a total waste.”
The president also listed some adverse effects of training Nigerians without creating employment for them.
“You are rather frustrating more people and probably increasing the number of criminals in the society. I always say that if you train a young man as a fitter and he has no job to do, he or she will use that skill to break into banks, because you have trained him on how to handle iron and how to handle complicated locks.”
The president urged Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, of government involved in job training to go further by creating employment opportunities for their trainees. He listed some of such MDAs as the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, Industrial Training Fund, ITF, and the National Directorate of Employment, NDE.
The president said it is better to train 20 people and use the money for 80 others to create employment for the 20 trained instead of training 100 people and none of them gets a job.
“It is not just how many people you train, but how many people you have given employment through that training programme,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan also said the Presidential Jobs Board of Nigeria will help create jobs for millions of unemployed Nigerians.
The 31-member board comprising government officials and the private sector would be headed by Vice President Namadi Sambo.
The board, described by Mr. Jonathan as a special purpose vehicle, was charged with the responsibility of facilitating employment generation across the country.
“No one can deny that jobs are at the centre of economic revolution. In fact, the problem facing any head of government all over the world is Job creation,” Mr. Jonathan said. “Jobs are essential to make our people live well and they are critical to the promotion of our people’s dignity. Jobs enhance self worth and it is a source of personal pride. Indeed, it is at the heart of national economic and social development.’’
According to the president, the board is carefully constituted to include key members of the public and the private sector to ensure that it can draw on the cross expertise of people in government as well as those in private enterprise.
Mr. Jonathan, who expressed confidence in the ability of the board members to deliver on their assignment, urged them to take the assignment seriously.
Responding, Mr. Sambo thanked the President for the initiative, which he said would address the challenge of unemployment in the country.
The vice president said that the committee’s target was to create three million new jobs for Nigerians in the next 12 months, and pledged the commitment of the board members to the assignment.
In her remarks, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, said that the President had brought together private sector financiers and a mix of key public sector players on the board.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke said that in the last three years, the petroleum ministry focused on providing Nigerians with the tools they needed to secure jobs in the oil and gas sector, which she said was mystified before now.
She said “we have brought in Nigeria content so strongly that at no time in Nigeria’s history have you seen this number of Nigerians across the spectrum of expertise coming into the oil and gas sector.
“They did not need to be petroleum engineers or even geologists. They only needed to have the abilities to learn and come at different levels into the entire spectrum of the downstream service sector of the oil and gas.
“As you all know, it has been a great success and it is now being repeated across other sectors of the economy.
“As we concentrate on increasing gas supply in tandem with the Ministry of Power, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, we will change the face of the economy in its entirety.’’
According to her, government is simultaneously looking to ensure that Nigeria has gas for industrialisation.
Also speaking, the Vice Chairman of the board, Tony Elumelu, said that the board was encouraged by the various policies put in place by the Federal Government in its transformation agenda.
Mr. Elumelu said that with the policies in place in housing, power, ICT, housing mortgage, oil and gas sectors, creating three million jobs would not be difficult.
“Kenya created over 700,000 jobs within one year, what has encouraged us to be part of it is the transformation initiatives of the Federal Government.
“We are happy that we have the Minister of Petroleum Resources here among us who has played a strong role in the transformation from the point of view of indigenisation, bringing in Nigerian players in the oil and gas sector.’’
Mr. Elumelu assured that the board would train Nigerians to ensure they were employable.
Other members of the board include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, as well as the ministers of agriculture, labour and productivity.