• Monday, May 27, 2024
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High expectations as Egwunyenga mounts the saddle as Delta’s chief job creation officer

High expectations as Egwunyenga mounts the saddle as Delta’s chief job creation officer

The long wait by the people of Delta State to have another head of the state’s Job and Wealth Bureau ended on Wednesday following the inauguration of Ifeanyi Egwunyenga as the Chief Job and Wealth Creation Officer (CJWCO) of the state, sparking off high expectations from the citizens.

High expectations in the sense that they want him to hit the ground running and perform even better than Eric Eboh, his predecessor and professor of Agric Economy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), who operated the bureau professionally for eight good years.

Governor Sheriff Oborevwori on Wednesday, inaugurated and swore in Egwunyenga as CJWCO, three special advisers to the governor, head of pension bureau, executive secretary and board members of the Delta State Micro. Small and Medium Enterprises Agency (DEMSMA), etc.

The event, which took place at the Government House Asaba, a month to the governor’s one year anniversary in office, has been greeted with mixed feelings from Deltans with regard to Egwunyenga.

Many Deltans had thought that though the governor was not in a haste to make some major appointments last year, the appointment of the CJWCO would have been among the earliest appointments.

Some guessed that Eboh who had held sway at the office since 2015, would be reappointed.

The guess and wait have ceased especially as Egwunyenga’s appointment, a graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, passed through the screening and confirmation of the state House of Assembly before the inauguration.

Reactions and expectations:

Okowa/Oborevwori’s critics and opponents would have preferred new faces in government.

Said Emeka Ojums, a resident of Asaba, said: “It’s all about recycling of old faces by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-led government in the state. I would have preferred a situation the governor appointed new faces to introduce new ideas into the system.”

But Gertrude Chidumebi, the Public Relation Officer (PRO) of the job and wealth creation bureau in her reaction, said she can’t wait to see activities commence in the bureau again.

“Comrade Egwunyenga is a square peg in a square hole having served the Delta State Government in different capacities as the Hon Commissioner for Youth Development in the Ministry of Youth Development and as the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Youth Monitoring and Mentoring (DYMM) between 2015 and 2023. He would plan, implement, train and establish unemployed Delta youth in viable agricultural and vocational business enterprises,” she said.

Augustine Popo, a former House of Assembly aspirant in the state, said: “Egwunyenga served well in his former positions. I believe his kind of person is someone that carries out obligations effectively in any position he finds himself.

Popo who was coordinator, Urhobo United ex-militants for Sheriff Oborevwori Governorship 2023r, said, “When Egwunyenga was in the youth development, he carried a long a large number of youths. There is no Local Government Area in the state that would deny feeling his impact in terms of empowerment. This is what he knows how best to do and he worked around the nooks and crannies of the state to deliver on the mandate then,” he said.

Chinweike Nwankwo, one of the pioneer beneficiaries of the job and wealth creation programme under the YAGEP said, “I think he has done a lot. I expect him to carry on from where the Prof stopped and even expand and do better.”

Nwankwo, chief executive officer of Chinwinx Farms in Asaba, Delta State, urged him to do more because he is not new in the system. He knows what’s obtainable,” he expressed.

Kelvin Atano, also a beneficiary in the 2018 cycle of the programme under the STEP, said: “I may not know him very well but he should think of how to create more opportunities. He should expand on what’s on ground.”

Atano, the CEO of JK Innovative Technology Limited who has gone beyond the trainings giving him on maintenance and repairs of electrical gadgets said: “The programme should be upgraded to training beneficiaries on higher level technology because the world is going more technologically advanced. We should be concentrating more on how to produce things ourselves.”

Unemployed youths turned CEOs:

For the record, Eboh who was the pioneer CJWCO of the bureau gave future to 7,017 under the Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP), Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) and Graduates Employment Enhancement Programme (GEEP) of the bureau.

This was from the first cycle 2015/2016 to the last cycle 2021/2022 before Eboh bowed out of office.

Out of the 7017, STEP had 5,051 beneficiaries representing 72%, YAGEP had 1,776 representing 25% while GEEP had 190 beneficiaries representing 3%.

The males among the beneficiaries were 3,429 representing 49%, while the female were 3,588 representing 51%

Degree/High National Diploma (HND) holders among the beneficiaries were 2,828 representing 40%, Ordinary National Diploma (OND)/National Certificate of Education (NCE) holders were 1,023 representing 15% while West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) and Secondary School Certificate of Education (WASCE/SSCE) holders were 3,166 representing 45% of the beneficiaries.

Among the 7,017 beneficiaries, 1,226 outstanding ones were listed into the bureau’s Hall of Fame. Eboh stated that the underlying logic was that STEP, YAGEP and GEEP had produced highly significant outcomes with impacts that deserve being exhibited to the national and global community

“The Hall of Fame shows personal (own) testimonies of the 1,226 STEPreneurs, YAGEPreneurs and GEEP beneficiaries.

The testimonies reveal how and to what extent STEP, YAGEP and GEEP developed and improved the attitudes of the beneficiaries, transforming them from unemployed to self-employed/job creators, impacted on their livelihoods and fostered occupational growth, economic and social transition,” he said.

How Okowa spotted Egwunyenga as a strong tool:

Egwunyenga who rose to the position of the CJWO himself was said to have started from the grassroots and was spotted by the immediate past Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who appointed him into the Youth Monitoring of the Job Creation in the governor’s first term in office (2015 to 2019) and later the Commissioner for Youth Development (2019 to 2023) where he empowered rural youth with skills.

The youth development ministry which was newly created had Egwunyenga as the pioneer commissioner and one of his major mandates was to empower youth in rural areas with ICT skills under the Rural Youth Skills Acquisition (RYSA).

Okowa explained that he never knew the young comrade but when he heard about his hard work and diligence, he became interested hence his first appointment as Special Assistant on DYMM

A call for inclusiveness:

Now, at the inauguration of the political appointees on Wednesday, including Egwunyenga, Governor Oborevwori, charged them to shun bias, discrimination, ethnicity and work to project the MORE agenda of the state government.

Popo, a one-time Special Assistant on Security to former Governor Okowa, urged all Deltans to support the new job and wealth creation boss to succeed.

Popo also advised those against Egwunyenga’s appointment to be patient as according him, the prosperity of Oborevwori’s administration would impact on every Deltan.

“Political appointments, economic empowerment, infrastructural development will reach every segment of the state,” he said.

Assumes office, harps on realistic reforms:

The CJWCO who assumed office on Thursday, harped on the need for realistic reforms in the bureau in order to promote the MORE agenda of the incumbent administration in the state.

The expectations from Deltans are high and as such, there will be the need to rejig the process and to think outside the box for a more impactful result, he told his staff.

“The expectations are very high. There will be a lot of rejigging, a lot of thinking out of the box, and the need to do things unusual because there is a precedence. Of course, society wants more,” he enthused.

He said that for the bureau to perform exceptionally well, more opportunities needed to be created to build a community of entrepreneurs in line with the MORE agenda of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori.

He emphasised on the state government’s resolve to keep Deltans meaningfully engaged even as he advised them to do things differently in order to keep Deltans excited and interested in the job creation programmes.

He solicited for the support and cooperation of every staff in order to move the bureau forward and help it achieve its set goals.