YESSO; HARNESSING & MAXIMIZING OPPORTUNITIES FOR HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT
YESSO, the Youth Employment and Social Support Operation Project for Nigeria has its development objective hinged on increasing access of the poor to youth employment opportunities, providing social services, and strengthening safety net systems in participating states. According to information from The World Bank, there are four components to the project. The first component of the project is to strengthen social safety net system. The operation through this component will help the government to define and consolidate the institutional responsibilities and implementation arrangements to ensure effective coordination among all units of the federal and state governments and all stakeholders involved in the implementation of social safety nets in Nigeria. The second component of the project is public workfare program. The objective of which is to support the participating state governments in providing immediate labor intensive work opportunities for unskilled youths from poor households. The third component of the project is skills for jobs program. This component seek to pilot a new approach to skills training that would increase the effectiveness of the government’s efforts to combat unemployment, especially among the youth. The fourth component of the project is Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program. This component will assist the Government of Nigeria (GON) in implementing a conditional cash transfer program.
On his assumption of office, the Abia Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu adopted a human capital development initiative known as Education for Employment (E4E) and launched it in the State on 16th September 2015 where technical and vocational education training is carried out. The Education for Employment programme conceptualized by Governor Ikpeazu through its Director General, Mr. Endi Ezengwa is aimed at strengthening the technical and vocational education training.
Relatively to the YESSO Project, E4E was established to manage unemployment among youths and boost SME and the programme began with profilling youths. This youths would either get employed or become independent, make money and pay taxes as a contribution to the growth of the economy of the State. After the official flagging off of the Youth Employment and Social Support Operations (YESSO) on Thursday 11th July, 2019 by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu – a programme attracted by the Governor also through his E4E DG, Mr. Ezegwa, the Governor found Youth Employment and Social Support Operations (YESSO) suitable for maximizing potentials of young people in the State.
Out of the four components of YESSO as stipulated by The World Bank, Abia has been mapped to benefit fro two component units which are; the Public Workfare and Skills for Job.This is packaged to engage unskilled unemployed youths from the poor and vulnerable households who are between the ages of 18 – 45 and ensure they develop the capacity of becoming financially independent and even contribute to the economic development of Abia State.
As at today in Abia State, YESSO is at its pilot stage and has a total of 3,860 beneficiaries drawn from sixLocal Government Areas of Obingwa, Ukwa East, Isialangwa South, Ikwuano, Arochukwu and Ohafia, representing the 3 senatorial zones of the State. These three thousand, eight hundred and sixty beneficiaries of Abia origin are to receive a monthly stipend of seven thousand, five hundred naira each for a period of twelve months as obtained in other States of the federation where the programme is functional. Though the State joined the programme late as it ends next year, there is an assurance by the State Focal Person, Mr. Endi Ezengwa that there would be a new version, months after the expiration of the programme next year.
For the six LGAs there are State Operations Coordinating Units, these units identify the poor and vulnerable in the LGAs, enumerate them and put them in the system through a data base called Abia State Single Social Register of Poor and Vulnerable House Holds. So far only three wards each have been captured in this pilot stage of the programme. However, It is still a work in progress.
It is interesting to note that, the stakeholders of YESSO led by the Director General of E4E and State Focal Person of YESSO, Mr. Endi Ezengwa, yesterday, held a Meeting to brainstorm on certain critical issues of the programme. In the meeting, it was made public that for those beneficiaries who have enrolled in the Public Work Fare (PWF) component of YESSO, from their manual and guidelines they are supposed to be involved in community works such as checking erosion, cutting grasses, help in market places, and help in various other community works. More importantly too, the meeting disclosed how these beneficiaries would further assist the State in achieving its various policies and goals in some select government outfits.
It was equally revealed that these youths would be deployed in six government outfits to build up the labour force in the establishments. The selected establishments are: ASEPA, Health and social care management, ABROMA, TIMAS, Abia Vigilante Services and Geriatric Outreach (healthcare for the elderly). The essence of deploying these beneficiaries is for government to maximize the subsidised labour to make greater impact in the policy thrust of the agencies concerned.
Also, the meeting was aimed at creating a room for the agencies involved to identify areas of interest and capability of the beneficiaries with a view to identifying where they might be useful to the various outfits. It is imperative to state that these agencies that would engage them would also be paying them some allowances aside the #7,500 of the YESSO. Those agencies could still employ them as full time staff if the need arises.
Truly, YESSO is serving the purpose of Education For Employment (E4E).The E4E being an agency under the Abia State Ministry of Education is doing well in supervising the YESSO programmes and utilizing its potentials for the development of the State. E4E ensures it manages the potentials of YESSO to drive some government policies and programmes. The Education for Employment which is dedicated to developing the capacity of the youths has in the last four years done great work in ensuring that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises is boosted.
Hence, the State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, whose E4E is his brain child, deserves commendation for the positive impacts seen so far. Under his watch, the ‘can-do-spirit’ of the Abia and Igbo man has been resuscitated and Aba, the commercial nerve centre has attained the status of the SME capital of Nigeria.
In Abia, we’re making headways.