New dawn for artisans as Lagos government equips them with modern skills

L-R Dr. Olajide Basorun ( PS MWC&E), Mr. Babatunde Durosimi- Etti ( HC MWC&E ) , Hon. Sola Giwa (chairman house committe on wealth creation ), Mrs. Ifueko Omogui Okaro (chairman employment)

Over the years, Nigeria has seen lots of expatriates from countries such as India, Japan, China, and neighbouring West African countries, including Ghana, Togo, Republic of Benin, Chad and Niger repatriating the country’s funds to their various countries.

These expatriates have taken over jobs meant for Nigerian artisans, which has rendered the country’s bricklayers, carpenter, steel, fabricators, plumbers, electricians, tilers, painters, casters and other subdry artisans and craftsmen idle and jobless while foreigners gets the pay.

The dominance of these foreign artisans have resulted in huge capital flight and worsened the situation of unemployment in the country.

However, one would wonder why people prefer patronising foreign artisans to their Nigerian counterparts, but poor attitude to work, incompetency and cut-throat charges by local artisans have been identified as one of the factors putting off prospective clients

Worried by this new tren, the former Governor of Lagos State, Raji Babtunde Fashola, in 2010, introduced an eight-week intensive training for artisans and tradesmen in the state to help them gain prominence in their fields of expertise.

Bouyed by the successes recorded in the training, the incumbent, Akinwunmi Ambode, since he assumed office, in 2015, has followed the same path of his predecessor, by sustaining the training and further enlighten them on their work code and ethics, which constitute about 85 percent of residents an indication that they make the bulk of the state economy.

Ambode, at the just concluded 8th Tradesmen and Artisans week and graduation ceremony for 1500 re-trained artisans and traders, organised by the state’s Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, affirmed that the role of the artisans/tradesmen in the pyramid of socio economic development of a nation, is critical to achieving sustainable growth and the overall prosperity of the population.

With the theme: “Technology and Innovation: A catalyst for the development of the Artisans and Tradesmen,” the idea of the programme is to sensitise the artisans on the global reality.

According to the governor, successful businesses are driven by technology and innovative ideas, adding that technology will help them compete favorably with their competitors.

He said: “It will be difficult for you to survive and stay ahead of your competitors if you continue to do things the old way and fail to key into the current reality. There is no aspect of your trade or vocation that cannot apply technology to improve on quality, efficiency and productivity.”

Ambode, who recalled various initiatives designed to scale up the informal sector such as, the N25 billion Employment Trust Fund (ETF), among others, assured traders and artisans in the state that government would continue to implement strategies and programmes to promote their businesses and create conducive environment for their operation.

“Giving the strategic role of the informal sector in our economic development in this state, our administration has opened an online portal designed to facilitate interaction among artisans, customers/end-users and relevant stakeholders.

“It is our primary role to make it easy and convenient for people in need of high quality service to meet reliable, trusted and verifiable service providers. It is also aimed at enhancing the productivity, competitiveness, creativity and vitality of this sector.”

While expressing excitement with the fact that it was the tailors from the state who produced the academic gowns used for the graduation, the governor said moving forward, the state government would now start to officially engage traders and artisans on jobs that would improve their economy.

Speaking on specific requests made by Lagos State Council of Tradesmen and Artisans (LACOSTA), the governor said: “As a start, we instruct the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment to see the capabilities and the opportunities that we can spread out from State jobs and contracts and give to our artisans.

“I am very happy to note that we have graduates among you and also graduates who are also your children. So, we hereby create an immediate opportunity through your associations to be able to recruit into key areas in the public service where we can need your services. These are not political promises, we keep our promises and we will fulfill all our promises.”

While congratulating the artisans and traders for successfully undergoing the training, Ambode urged them to put all they had learnt to effective practice, and leverage on the endless opportunities of the strategic position of Lagos as one of the fastest growing economies in the world to be solution providers, just as he assured that the State Government would continue to provide and maintain the required infrastructure and conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

Besides, Ambode launched a compendium of artisans in the state to boost the informal sector, and also inaugurated operational bus donated to LACOSTA by the state government.

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mr Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti, said since the last edition of the event, Ambode, as requested by LACOSTA, had already approved N12 million annual subventions to the association and increased the number of beneficiaries in 2017 to 1,500 from the 500 that were trained in 2016.

He said that the graduands underwent an eight-day intensive training programme in their areas of trade, adding that the awards presented to them were expected to serve as morale booster and increase the drive in order to create a competitive business environment.

Also, LACOSTA President, Alhaji Nurudeen Buhari commended Ambode for keeping his promise of scaling up the informal sector and prioritizing the interest of artisans and traders in the State.

He said as promised by the governor, many of their members had benefited from the ETF loan, among other fulfilled promises.

The governor at the event presented certificates to 1,500 artisans and traders in the State who were retrained on modular employability programme.

The beneficiaries, drawn from various associations under the auspices of LASCOTA, were solely trained by the state government for enhanced productivity in a total of twenty-four trades, including entrepreneurship, computer appreciation, writing business proposals, among others.

He said it was in recognition of such fact that his administration had shown commitment towards ensuring that the event was not only sustained eight years after, but also designed to be more rewarding.

Some of the participants, who spoke with The Guardian applauded the governor but urged him to include stipends for beginners in subsequent trainings.

Specially, Oladejo Sofia a retiree and beneficiary of the programme who trained on Tie and Dye thanked the governor stressing that the training would definitely boost her career.

“We were taught so many things relating to how to make use of technology to boost our business. They took us to an advanced level, which is highly commendable. The training was worthwhile, however, government should increase the period of the training to make it more comprehensive and effective.

“I retired as a civil servant from the Lagos State Government and I am yet to collect my pension and that was why I trained on Tie and Dye. There are people who are challenged financially, we understand that the government has given us the privilege to access loan but in consequent trainings the governor should provide stipends for startups, this will further encourage them. Also some of the conditions for the loan should be waved aside.”

Also speaking, Dada Taiwo, an engineer who trained on Electronics urged the government to ensure that the loan so that get to the beneficiaries at appropriate time.

“I have leant a lot from the training and it would definitely add to the ways I do things. We thank the governor for his efforts in boosting our business like the provision for loan. However, he should monitor the loan so it would be useful to us.”

For Oladega Korede, from Epe Local Government, who is also a member of United Sand Dealers Association (USDA), he said, “We applaud the governor for this training. The government should establish us in the area of finance. He should give us money to enhance our business and the money should been given to us as we finish the training.”

Commenting further, a member of Restaurant and bar association, Isioma who is also a beneficiary said, “We need money to buy in bulk. Governor should assist us.



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