Lokoja — Kogi state is one of the 14 states in the federation where SURE-P programme had commenced as a pilot project. Initially, people were sceptical about it, but the state SURE-P committee led by Chief Abdullahi Ohiomah is saying the people should embrace it for it's employment benefits.
This was evident during sensitization tour of the committee to the royal fathers across the state. The monarchs promised to cooperate with SURE-P impart on the lives of the citizenry.
In January 2012, the Federal Government announced the removal of fuel subsidy and in order to cushion the effects of this action, introduced the Subsidy Reinvestment Empowerment Programme otherwise known as SURE-P.
SURE-P comprises a wide range of intervention programmes with eight main components namely: Social Safety Network (SSN), Niger Delta Development, Road Infrastructure, Water and Agriculture, Selected Power Projects, Petroleum and NNPC Projects and Information & Communication Technology.
Nigeria is currently faced with high level of unemployment and challenges in the utilization of abundant human and natural resources.
Youth employment is estimated at 32 percent and 4.7 percent in the age groups of 15-24 years and 25-44 years respectively and by implication, almost 80 percent of the country's vibrant and productive groups are unemployed.
The whole idea is to create mass employment opportunities for Nigerians, especially youths and women in the 36 states of the federation.
The programme kicked off in Kogi State last December and prominent traditional rulers in the state have commended President Goodluck Jonathan for including Social Safety Net Project in the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) and assured of its success in the state.
The royal fathers who gave their assurance during the sensitization tour include, the Achadu of Igala Kingdom, the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, the Maigari of Lokoja, the Ohimege of Kotonkarfe, the Obaro of Kabba, the Ejeh of Dekina, Ankpa, Ofu, Ibaji, Olamaboro and many others.
During the tour, Ohiomah, chairman of the programme in the state, said federal government will soon commence the immediate employment of the first batch of 3,000 unemployed persons in Kogi State under the programme.
He added that a total of 10,000 unemployed persons will be engaged under Community Service, Women, Youth and Empowerment (CSWYE) project in Kogi State before the end of 2015.
According to Ohiomah, participants will be recruited from among the youth, women and other vulnerable persons, adding that they will be engaged in projects like rehabilitation of hospitals and primary health care centres.
According to him, other areas they will be engaged in are: rehabilitation of schools, repair of educational infrastructure, water projects, sanitation, social services and other critical community projects, saying that participants will be paid a monthly stipend of N10,000.
He disclosed that 1,000 jobs will be created for graduates and holders of equivalent certificates or higher degrees under the Graduate Internship scheme of SURE-P, adding that each beneficiary will be placed on a monthly stipend of N18,000.
"The objective of the progemme is to create employment and empowerment opportunities for semi-skilled and unskilled labour force, and enhance societal access to qualitative (social and economic) infrastructure and services," he said.
The Maigari of Lokoja, Alhaji Mohammed Makarfi III happily, noted that the Social Safety Net component has the potential of reducing level of poverty in the country as CSWYE scheme is targeted at women, youths and the vulnerable persons who constitute about 80 percent of the unemployed persons in Nigeria.
The Ohimege of Kotonkarfe, Alhaji Abdulrasaq Isah Koto said in his palace that the project has the capacity to improve community level infrastructure, in addition to expanding the available employment opportunities for women and youths.
In the same vein, the Ohinoyi of Ebira, Alhaji Ado Ibrahim pledged his commitment and that of his subjects to the success of the project within his domain.
He called for speedy implementation of the programme, saying it is capable of reducing social vices prevalent among unemployed persons in the state.
Other traditional rulers across the state expressed optimism about the programme's ability to tackle poverty and social vices and assured of their people's readiness in ensuring the success of the programme.