The Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, on Tuesday in Ede, renewed his commitment to community service and empowerment of citizens of the state as the first batch of 20,000 cadets enrolled in the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) graduated.
The 20,000 cadets passed out after two years of service at a colourful ceremony held at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) camp in Ede.
Speaking at the occasion, Aregbesola said: "Today's passing-out parade is a defining moment in our inexorable trot towards development and progress. As our first batch of OYES volunteer cadets file out for their passing-out parade, we are certain that they are marching onto greatness, self-fulfilment and self-actualisation.
"They are another testimony to the fact that the march of progress we embarked upon at the inception of our administration is unstoppable because it is undergirded by vision, passion and action. We are gathered here today to witness another culmination of our progressive efforts and development policies.
"When we came to office, we realised that the greatest challenge of our people was lack of job opportunities for the teeming youth. For this, we immediately swung into action and, in less than 100 days in office, established the OYES through which we engaged 20,000 young persons, which is targeted at tackling the chronic problem of unemployment in the state. "
"Two years on, we have cause to give thanks to the Almighty for the astounding success the programme has become. We have the evidence of its success when the World Bank recommended the scheme for study and adoption by other states for public sector mass job creation and youth engagement."
He said OYES was a programme like no other, stressing that: "Rather than being a white-collar or blue-collar job scheme, it was uniquely conceived and designed to, among other things, take our youths off the streets; give them an orientation about public service; and make them see the need to contribute to the development of their society."
"It is a stop-gap scheme to train the youth and imbue them with positive work orientation and ethics such as self-sustenance, resourcefulness, character and competence, and to give them the self-confidence to forge ahead and overcome life's numerous challenges after they must have spent two years and be ready for disengagement.
"I must also let you know that OYES is not about youth employment alone. It is also about re-inflating the economy of the State. Every month, the N200 million allowances paid to the cadets sink into the economy of the state. Our backward integration policy requires that all the uniform, kits and equipment used by OYES be obtained from the markets spread round all the local governments in the state. This has created value chain, improved the economy of the state, empowered families and created wealth.
"Two years after, we can proudly say that our dream has been realised. After their orientation, the cadets were deployed in various areas of public need, such as public works, sanitation monitoring, paramedics, sheriff corps and traffic marshalls.
"Along the line, they were also trained in entrepreneurship and various vocations, so as to be the masters of their destinies. Additional skill training was incorporated, which involve partnerships and collaborations with the private sector and academic institutions, such as the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Osun State University, Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Fountain University, Adeleke University and other private training organisations.
"The cadets were encouraged to form co-operative societies, through which soft loans were guaranteed by the government to facilitate the success of the volunteers in their chosen vocation or area of entrepreneurship.
"I am happy to announce that this administration's effort is already yielding positive fruit. About 18,000 of the cadets who passed out have found permanent jobs. At the newly established Oloba Farm, OYES volunteers are engaged in cattle and ram fattening and in the broiler out-grower scheme. Besides, 74 cadets are undergoing training in modern agricultural practices in Leventis Foundation School and 610 others are being tutored in the Osun Rural Enterprise and Agriculture Programme (OREAP), where they are already cultivating farms under a profit-sharing arrangement."