The Delta State Government yesterday rolled out six entrepreneurship schemes with an assurance from the State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, that 6,000 direct jobs will be created in the next six months.

The schemes are Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP), Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP); Production and Processing Support Programme (PPSP); Tractorisation; Extension of Loans; and Development of Agro-industries.

At the unveiling of the programmes before Chairmen of the traditional rulers councils in the 25 Local Government Area, the Governor, who spoke through his Deputy, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro, said the initiatives will "create jobs and wealth, diversify the economy, engage youths in productive enterprises, nurture entrepreneurs and leaders, and promote communal peace and security." He stressed that the Government is determined and poised to deliver prosperity to everyone in Delta through our S.M.A.R.T agenda, and it is on that note that we are launching these job creation schemes.

Dr. Okowa explained that the meeting with the traditional rulers was to get them acquainted with government's job creation programmes as key stakeholders and partners with the government. According to the governor, "we want to take advantage of our revered traditional institutions to ensure that beneficiaries are sons and daughters of our communities so that we can maximize the gains of all that we are putting into the programmes."

The royal palaces, he disclosed, will serve as centres for collection and submission of the forms for interested participants in any of the schemes. Although the forms can also be accessed and downloaded online, he said the recourse to the traditional rulers to assist in the distribution and collation of the forms was to allay any fears of political marginalization as the royal fathers are non-partisan.

Briefing the gathering, the Chairman of the Adhoc Committee on job creation and Commissioner-Designate, Dr. Kingsley Emu, explained that under the YAGEP scheme, participants across the 25 Local Government Areas will be screened and selected by a team of consultants after which they will undergo one month training at Songhai Farms for life skills, attitudinal change, and hands on management.

The areas of focus, Emu said, are piggery, poultry, fisheries, and vegetable farming. He revealed that upon completion of the training the participants will proceed on a one-month internship after which they will be given starter packs to start their own farms. The Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP), he said is meant to equip youths with vocational and technical skills in computer hardware and phone repairs, sewing, plumbing, tiling, electrical installation, POP, catering and confectionaries, events management, among others. The objective of the PPSP, according to Emu, is to increase production capacity of existing farmers and the quality of produce through best practice. Beneficiaries will be granted "micro credit through available financing windows, subsidized bulldozers, tractors implements, chemicals, and high quality seed."

Participants/beneficiaries will also be selected from across the 25 Local Government Areas through direct stakeholder consultation with farmers' representatives, and other relevant organizations.

Dr. Emu advised artisans to organize themselves into cooperatives to enable them access the "micro credit and agricultural loans with liberal repayment terms in line with the extant microcredit programme."

He disclosed that the Committee, in collaboration with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA) and Ministry of Commerce and Industry, will identify and select beneficiary groups within a few weeks; give necessary orientation to selected groups on microcredit management; and disburse the loans as soon as the process is completed."

Traditional rulers who spoke at the occasion lauded the State Government's initiatives in ensuring transparency in the job creation process, assuring that their people will participate actively in the programmes.