With the recent relaunch of its website, the renewed efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari, to position the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) as part of his determination to whittle down the rate of unemployment in Nigeria, through his Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo SAN, is apparently changing the narrative progressively. This is the crust of the explanation by the Director-General of the Directorate, Mallam Abubakar Nuhu-Fikpo, recently. CHRISTIAN APPOLOS, reports.
The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) is effectively taking the challenge of combating the issue of unemployment head-on. As part of its doggedness to make available its job creation programmes to the teeming unemployed Nigerians, the agency recently restructured and relaunched its website to efficiently provide in-depth information of its activities and services to Nigerians and the global community.
The site www.nde.gov.ng, is fashioned to enable Nigerians access its products, schemes and programmes that will be beneficial and suitable to the needs of the citizens, said, the Director-General, Mallam Abubakar Nuhu-Fikpo.
Explaining the progressive efforts NDE is making to cater for the employment needs of Nigerians, Mallam Fikpo gave a background of the Directorate’s establishment and said; “Following the recommendations of the Chukwuma Committee, NDE was established through ACT 250 of the Laws of the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1986 but actually began its programmes in 1987. NDE is an agency of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment. It was established to address the problem of massive unemployment in the country.”
He further explained that National Directorate of Employment was mandated to undertake the following duties; “To design and implement programs to combat mass unemployment. To articulate policies aimed at developing work programmes with labour intensive potentials and to obtain and maintain a data bank on employment and vacancies in the country with a view to provide job vacancies to employment seekers in collaboration with other government agencies. Lastly, NDE has been mandated to implement other policies as may be laid out from time to time by the Board established under sections of the ACT of the NDE.”
Giving further insight to the broad mandates on which the NDE provides its services to the unemployed Nigerians, Mallam Fikpo, said; NDE established four major programmes on which its operations are majorly based. They are: the Rural Employment Promotions programme, which is aimed at taking care of Nigerians who are unemployed and interested in going into agricultural activities. Small Scale Enterprises for graduates and non graduates who are interested in going into small businesses and other business venture of their choice.
“We also have Vocational Skills Development programme; this is basically meant for people who want to use their hands to acquire skills in various trades. Under this programme, we have a spectrum of over 48 different trades from which prospective participants are expected to choose. Lastly, we also have the Special Public Works programmes. This is meant to imbibed in Nigerians the spirit of communal work and maintenance of social infrastructures. This programme also takes care of school leavers who are deficient in their secondary school results and are not able to secure admission into the universities. Under each of these programmes, we have various skills where prospective participants, unemployed Nigerians, graduates and non graduates could choose from and decide to be self employed.” The DG, stated.
In addition, the NDE boss, said; “The establishment of the NDE from inception to date has been very effective and impactful for a number of reasons. One, it takes care of unemployed Nigerians irrespective of your educational background. Secondly, it also takes care of Nigerians who are elderly; Nigerians who have retired and still productive.”
Providing further information about NDE’s efforts towards bringing it numerous programmes and activities, aside from the recently re-lunched website to Nigerians, the Director-General, said; “In order to have a wider reach to prospective participants, the NDE maintains structures in all the 36 states of the Federation including the FCT. In addition to that, the NDE also established zonal offices. We have six zonal offices in the country (Awka, Anambra State, Asaba, Delta State, Ibadan, Oyo State, Bwari, F.C.T., Kaduna, Kaduna State, Gombe, Gombe State).
“Furthermore, because we want to establish our presence in the rural areas, we have also gone further to establish our presence in the local government areas, by getting what we call NDE liaison offices in the 774 local government areas of the country. And this makes the NDE very impactful.”
On how NDE is combating the challenge of ensuring that beneficiaries access its training centres closer to their states and LGAs, the DG said; “We know and we recognize the fact that there are some communities where certain training facilities may not be available. Because of that, we have a strategy that employs the deployment of mobile workshops to those areas where such facilities are not available. We deploy those facilities and conduct training for the people for a period that is enough for them to acquire the skills. This is what sets the NDE apart from every other agency of government that attempts to create jobs and empower Nigerians.”
Mallam Fikpo, went on to add that NDE’s collaborative modus-operandi, is very vital to its mandate and successes especially in the case of a critical issue as unemployment. He noted; “Because unemployment is a global phenomenon, the NDE has a window of collaboration with other stakeholders. These stakeholders range from philanthropists, political office holders, multinationals like UNDP, ILO, IOM, the World Bank and so on. At the national level, we also collaborate with the NYSC, National Senior Citizens Centre, and a number of other organizations in order to make Nigerians acquire relevant and marketable skills for self reliance.”
On why Nigerians, especially the unemployed citizens should embrace NDE employment opportunities through skills acquisition and entrepreneurship training programmes, he said; since it has been established that unemployment is a global phenomena, what is required is for people to be skillful and marketable.
“So we implore Nigerians to embrace these opportunities that abound in NDE for them to acquire skills, because today, your certificates alone cannot foot your bill. What foots your bill is your ability to perform a trade, your ability to under take an activity using the skills you have. This is why we implore Nigerians to embrace skills acquisition and be self employed as a viable option to wage employment. It will be better for people to be bosses of themselves and employers of others, rather than waiting in vain for white collar jobs that are nowhere to be found.”
The DG added; “With the establishment of NDE website and its development, we believe that this a step forward for people to have access to information about the NDE from the comfort of their homes. Through the website, you can have information regarding which office of the NDE is closest to you. This is one of the strategies we have put in place to make information concerning the NDE available to Nigerians.
“We fear that in the near future, people may find it difficult to foot their bills because paper certification May not be able to foot bills. It is not a check. Rather, what will be a check will be your ability to carry out an activity, your ability to be productive. Your ability to either produce something or render services because of the skills you have acquired.
Again, we are appealing to Nigerians, to our youths, we are appealing to the unemployed persons to take advantage of the opportunities that are available within the NDE.
To robustly carry out its mandate to the fullest, the NDE has received the support of the Federal Government through the Chairman of its Management Board.
The target group of the NDE is basically unemployed Nigerians, therefore, all our programmes and trainings from start to finish are at no cost to prospective beneficiaries. “We saying this and we are calling on prospective beneficiaries or participants to disregard any call by anybody to make any payment in respect of any activity of the NDE because the NDE does not charge a dime for its activities: either recruitment, registration, empowerment, or whatever it does. The Federal Government of Nigeria has taken it off participants and so, our activities and services are completely free of charge.
“We want to use this opportunity to commend the Honorable Minister of State. Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN for the guidance he has given, for his leadership style. The guidance he has given to the NDE, for the leadership he has provided to the NDE Board for us to be able to do our job properly. And finally, we give thanks to Mr. President, for always giving us a listening ear and supporting the NDE in doing what it is mandated to do.”