Ebonyi State N2billion Empowerment Programme, the Government Should Come Clean Now!
By Moses Idika
In the last few days, both the offline and online space has been awash with accusations and counter accusations over the recently launched Ebonyi State Government N2billion Empowerment Programme.
The programme according to the state government is planned to “empower” 1500 young people from Ebonyi State by training them in various skills and subsequently “empowering” each beneficiary with the sum of N2million for them becomes self-employed, job creators and eventual entrepreneurs.
The programme according to the government targets indigent Ebonyians, especially “hawkers” horning their menial trades in various Nigerian major cities.
The programme which was announced in August 2023 and launched in October same year has somehow so far emerged the most controversial in the annals of the government of Governor Francis Ogbonnaya Nnwifuru.
Many Ebonyians and development enthusiast have raised concerns over the way and manner the programme has been planned and executed.
First and foremost, we must as a people understand that whatever money the government of Ebonyi State Government spends is public funds and a collective patrimony that requires the most form of transparency, openness and utmost accountability.
The government is expected to, especially in this digital age be open and be seen to be open in handling this kind of public funded project. It is on record that even though the state has spent a whopping N2billion on this project, the public is still awaiting the list of the beneficiaries of this important and public-funded project.
It is important to remind the state government that other states in Nigeria had in the time past embarked on this type of project and such programmes were well thought out, procedures clearly stated and the public carried along for accountability and accompanying evaluation and applause.
We recall that Akwa Ibom State under Governor Godswill Akpabio had initiated a programme that reversed the “house-girl and gateman syndrome” that used to be associated with people from that state.
We recall that Akwa Ibom State then aside from recalling their natives doing such menial jobs in other state, also openly and practically created programmes that effectively solved the problem and nearly 20 years later, the state has been rid of such demeaning jobs. Today Akwa Ibom youths are leading in ICT solutions across various sectors of the Nigerian economy with its attendant prosperity and accolades for the state.
We call on the people of Ebonyi State to abhor sentiments and be vigilant in ensuring that our meagre public resources are properly deployed to better the lot of our people.
Ebonyi State aside being one of the poorest states in Nigeria also unfortunately boasts of high level of youth unemployment.
The state has also according to the National Bureau of Statistics become the state with some of the worst records in ease-of doing business as well as the state with the highest cost of food in Southern Nigeria- this sumerises the excruciating poverty and living condition of the people.
The emerging (mis)management of the N2billion empowerment programme may be a pointer to things to come, most especially when the state already announced that 1500 young Ebonyians have been earmarked for the programme which automatically translates to a whopping N6 billion.
The government should as a matter of accountability take action and clear the doubts among the people of Ebonyi State by coming out clean on the N2billion empowerment programme, and if any of its officers has been found wanting in any form, such an officer irrespective of status must be made to face the music.
Ebonyi State must make progress.
Moses Idika is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ebonyi State