Dr Nasiru Mohammed Ladan is the Director General, National Directorate of Employment (NDE), In this interview, he talked about the various employment schemes of the directorate. Excerpts:
That is NDE doing to reduce the unemployment rate in the country?
The mandate given to us by the government is to provide employment through entrepreneurial skills development. On the issue of unemployment reduction, NDE is the heartbeat. If you look at our widespread, we have offices in all the six geo-political zones, and also in all the 37 states including FCT. Out of the 774 local governments in the country, we have desk offices in 691 of them. Hundreds of millions was sunk into this with the hope of training young Nigerians in various skills and modern agric techniques. Early last year, we came up with a program called Mega Basic National Open Apprenticeship Scheme, where we took in 76,400 young men and women at a go, 2000 per state, but Lagos, Rivers and Katsina were given 4000 slot each. Also about 1, 300 Internally Displaced Persons plus 248 Boko Haram reformists were trained in collaboration with the Nigerian military and other interest groups. Also under same department, we have what is called Graduates Attachment Programme (GAP), it is a programme whereby young graduates without jobs will be identified and attached to any trade they chose and will be paid fifteen thousand naira every month. Even in the area of education, there is this Graduates Coaching Scheme, in every locality, graduates who have nothing doing, we engage them to train some young men and women who have deficiency in their SSCE, WAEC and JAMB so they can rewrite their exams. We pay them ten thousand naira every month.
What have you done to eliminate the problems being faced by the beneficiaries of your various training schemes?
When I came on board, I discovered that the directorate was training the youths on over 80 skills, but after looking at it, I streamlined it to 15 based on demand driven and certain areas which we believe once you are trained, you will be a hot cake in the community. And that is why we gave 70 percent to cosmetology because the period of training them is less and are mostly women. Through our various offices in the states, we issued them forms to tell us whatever trade they wanted to be trained in.
We are succeeding unlike before, we now train beneficiaries right in their localities by identified master trainers. Also, a logbook, attendant register and identity card have been introduced. We also asked them to give us their bank details including BVN, the same thing with the master trainer so that at the end of the month, we can pay their stipends directly into their account; the only condition is that they must attend up to 20 times in a month and once they fulfilled that condition, we will send their money to them.
How do you ensure that the empowerment tools given to the trainees are used for what they are meant for?
We realized that why there was no much impact before now was because after training, they were not given working tools or starter pack. So, we look at the possibility of given them working tools and starter packs unlike before whereby you trained a young man on barbing and you give him clippers, generator and other equipment and then he would sell them. But what we are doing now, we make it difficult in the sense that you need to have a guarantor, write an undertaken so that you can be monitored through our various units to know the progress.
Like in our cosmetology packs, `not for sale’ is written on them so that it can be utilized for the purpose it was meant for. Also if you give someone working tools and they started producing, when there is no market his product or the market is saturated it is another waste of time and they will be discouraged, so when we came on board we spoke to NEMA and National Commission for the Refugees so that whatever our trainees produce, we take to them and they pay us and we pay our trainees just to encourage them. We are also working with NAFDAC and Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) on how to package the products so that with both NAFDAC and SON, our trainees can sell their products anywhere.
We have Special Public Works department, which deals directly with informal labour. There are young men with their working tools by the roadside daily looking for job. The department contacts multinational companies within and outside Abuja to see how they can be engaged and earn a living.
How do you give out loans to those you trained?
We do give out loans. But since the inception of NDE about 32years ago, 3.5 billion naira was given out as loans, some people even deposited the original copies of their credentials but as at last month, what have been recovered was just 248 million naira. People are not paying, and out of those who are paying, 90 percent of them are those that took small loan like 30, 40 and 50 thousand naira while those that enjoy big loan like 100 thousand and above are not paying completely. Also 90 percent of those who are paying back their loans are women because women are better as far as loan repayment is concern.
We also came up with the idea of basic business training, whereby we talk to people with established businesses, those that apply to us, we will look at how viable is the business and we make it tight as far issue of defaulting is concerned, because it is the one that we recovered that we give out so it is just like a revolving loan and honestly, the loan recovery is good within the last one year.
Those that apply and fulfill all the conditions we encourage them to form corporative societies within their locality. We give them twenty thousand naira to add to their capital and the repayment modality is one hundred naira monthly. The twenty women, who we gave the money, would be monitored by the additional women who are under line for the loan. We ask them to look out for the ones we gave the loan so that when they repay we can then give to the next batch. And these other women do it in collaboration with traditional and religious leaders