By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is committed to supporting the Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN) Learning Centre (PLC) Technical Skills Acquisition Programme (TSAP) in view of the impact it is having on insurgency ravaged Nigeria’s North East communities.
UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Khadiata Ndiaye gave the assurance during the graduation of 78 trainees of the UNDP PAN TSAP at the company’s premises on Tuesday.
“I wish to underscore that all graduates under this programme have been supported and will continue to be supported with start-up equipment grant to establish their businesses. In the tradition of this scheme, the IDPs that graduate today will be presented with their start-up equipment before the end of this event,” she said.
Ndiaye said that it was a privilege and honour to be there to take part in the Graduation Ceremony of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) drawn from Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe States coming barely after two weeks of my assignment in Nigeria.
“I am more delighted to know that among these graduates, who have acquired technical skills in four distinct areas of modern automobile technology services in this Centre, are 20 women.
“It gladdens my heart to observe that these young people will henceforth be sources of hope and inspiration, not only to the people in the North East, but to all those who will hear about the stories of the journey of their lives, as well as, those who will benefit from their services and benevolence in one way or the other in the years ahead.
“There is no doubt that the Boko Haram insurgency has negatively impacted the socio-economic lives of the people of the region,” she said.
The UNDP Representative said that investing in the lives of women and youth in the region is the minimal development support that UNDP and its partners can offer to bring hopes to the people, kick start local economy and promote peace and security.
“I affirm our commitment to support the government of Nigeria and of the region to continue to embark on programmes that eradicate poverty in all forms and dimensions, accelerate structural transformation to achieve sustainable development and build resilience to shocks and crises in line with the UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021.
” In doing this, the principles of conflict prevention, leaving no behind and reaching the farthest to reach, as articulated by the UN Secretary General and the 2030 Agenda will be our guide,” she added.
Speaking further, she said that no country can meaningfully develop without paying adequate attention to its young persons.
“This statement is more apt for Nigeria with about 60% of her population under the age of 40 and more significant of this percentage is out of school.
“Standard facilities for skill acquisition and entrepreneurship for young women and men out of school becomes an attractive option if the UN Agenda 2030 must be attained and principle of ‘leave no one behind’ accomplished in Nigeria,” she advised.
She said the northern Nigeria and the North East, in particular, must tackle this challenge head on and invest robustly in standard technical and vocational facilities for the benefits of the young women and men in the region.
“These young women and men that are graduating today are a good testimony to champion that course and lay the foundation for a more prosperous future for young women and men in the north east. No skill that provides livelihoods for individuals, families and render services needed by society should be undermined.
“This reality propels UNDP and its partners to increase investments in construction and rehabilitation the training facilities in the North East, equipped the facilities with modern equipment, and train more women and youth in various lifelong skills.
“As I speak, another set of 750 IDPs, 50% of whom are women, commenced training in 4 institutions/facilities to acquire skills in 20 trades on 1st February, 2019. This Centre is training 50 of them.
“Of great importance to me, is the information that under this programme, the jinx and long held stereotype in the northern part of Nigeria has been broken by producing first set of ladies trained in Automobile Technology Services.
“I join others to congratulate and celebrate the bravery, determination and sagacity of these young ladies,” she said.
She further called on all to encourage and patronize them.
“Moreover, I wish to encourage the government, private sector and individuals from this region, and in Nigeria as a whole, to partner with UNDP to expand and build on the achievements of this catalytic programme.
” I implore you, the graduates, to explore opportunity of partnering with one another to form business clusters to foster rapid development and expansion of your businesses, as well as, taking advantage of partnership in business management.
“Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen, UNDP is committed to supporting the government of Nigeria in her efforts to tackle the numerous security and development challenges in the country particularly in the north east, the north central, and south-south, as well as, youth employment and entrepreneurship across the country.
“UNDP will persevere to engage all interested states and partners to bring development dividends to the citizens through effective, efficient and equitable management of the scarce resources.
“I encourage all graduating today to use the skills and knowledge acquired in the 12 months training to improve their wellbeing, and that of their families, communities and Nigeria at large. Let your watch words be ‘integrity, honesty and hard work’ and apply this in your daily dealings. Transform this life time opportunity into effective wealth generation. I wish you the best of success in all your life endeavours.
“Finally, I thank our partner – the Norwegian Government – for its continuous support to UNDP programmes in Nigeria. I am proud to say that this partnership is yielding the desired fruits of alleviating poverty, building resilience and promoting peace and stability in Nigeria.
“I applaud the management and staff of PAN Learning Centre for your dedication, commitment and understanding to transform the lives of these young persons through imparting skills and knowledge into them and make them useful to the society.
“We look forward to consolidating this partnership,” she assured.