The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, has lauded the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (PYES), saying the initiative would help to reduce the high rate of youth unemployment in the country.
Achebe made the commendation in Onitsha on Saturday at the graduation ceremony of 69 youths of Onitsha, who underwent training in various vocations under the scheme.
He urged the nation’s unemployed youths to key into the lofty programme in order to become self-reliant.
He further urged the youths of Onitsha, who had yet to register with the Onitsha Youth Council to do so without further delay in their own interest.
The monarch blamed the security challenges in different parts of the country on the high unemployment rate among the youths.
He said that unemployment had made youths to join cultism, kidnapping and other violent crimes.
He said that drastic measures must be taken to tackle the menace before it would become a timed-bomb for the country.
He expressed delight that one the graduands had already employed seven graduates in his outfit.
He described the PYES as a sure way to transform the economy, adding that it would help to engage the youths in profitable ventures and discourage them from engaging in social vices.
Achebe said that the first set of 70 youths, who were trained and assisted with N500, 000 facility each, totalling N35 million, had repaid over N33 million.
He said that the financial support was also used to organise long vacation programme for secondary school students as well as special remedial programme for Onitsha indigenes seeking admission into universities.
He commended Ford Foundation for supporting the community outreach and entrepreneurship in Onitsha.
The Obi of Onitsha further said that the town was also faced with the menace of drug addiction among the youths.
The training was facilitated by the Ime-Obi Entrepreneurship Development Programme and sponsored by the Ford Foundation.
In a brief remark, Mr Patrick Mba, the Transition Committee Chairman of Onitsha North Local Government Area, commended the monarch and Ford Foundation for supporting the government in the area of human capital development and youth empowerment.
Also, Prof. Alex Ikeme, the lead facilitator of the programme, said that the youths were trained on social communication, marketing skills, team work and business sustainability, among other courses.
Ikeme also said that plans were underway to assist the graduates to secure loans to be able to take off.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr Michael Ibekwe, who runs a block industry, told NAN that the one-month training had transformed his business.
Ibekwe said, “I learnt a lot, especially how to check the financial loopholes in my business.”
He, however, said that he needed a loan to enable him to expand his business.
High-point of the event was the presentation of certificates to the trainees by the Obi of Onitsha. (NAN)