By NBF News

In 2006, when Osun State governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola began his electioneering campaign as the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, he promised to create jobs for 20,000 youths within 100 days of his administration if elected as governor.

And true to his words, the governor has achieved the feat, as he has created 20,000 jobs for the people of the state through the Osun State Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES)

Expressing his joy recently at the passing-out parade of the successful participants, the governor said after the inauguration of his administration on November 27, 2010, machineries were set in motion towards the actualisation of his pledge. Forms were printed and distributed to youths through the civil servants at the various local government council secretariats across the state.

'The selection was made without consideration for political, religious and ethnic identities of the applicants. It is our belief (and the directive principle of governance that we have adopted) that our government is the collective property of the people and therefore, nobody should be discriminated against in the sharing of its benefits,' he said.

Over 200,000 unemployed youths were said to have obtained forms for the programme which actually had just 20,000 spaces available. Publicity Secretary of the scheme, Mr. Oyintiloye Olatunbosun added that many of the applications came in the closing weeks of the scheme.

'The figure was an eye-opener as it reflects the level of unemployment among the teeming youths populace in the state,' Olatunbosun added. 'Despite the high level of response to the scheme and the attendant challenges, the programme took off with the training of shortlisted candidates across the 30 local government council areas in the state, ushering a new dimension in governance in the history of the state. With the smooth take off of the scheme, even pessimists could not but laud the effort of the Aregbesola government, having realised the impact of the scheme on the lives of the various families whose children were recruited into the scheme after several years of walking the streets of the state without a means of livelihood.'

Some critics have, however, argued that 20,000 out of over 200,000 applicants is not a commendable figure. But the scheme's consultant, Engineer Bimbo Daniyan said the present situation on ground is an indication of the good things to come. He added that the new administration will match its words with action in order to fulfil all its electoral promises.

In his words, Governor Aregbesola believes that it is only by positively engaging the youths of the nation that crime rate could be reduced and productivity increased in the land.

'This is the secret of the Western civilisation that we admire and benefit from. It is not magic or some inscrutable metaphysics. It is about treating people well and creatively engaging their ability,' he said.

He advised the successful youths to shame those alleging that they were being given military training for use during the coming elections.

'Many of you are handling your first job and your first responsibility in life. So, do it faithfully and with all your might. The effect of the OYES programme on the economy and lives of the people of the state is noteworthy. The workforce in many council areas in the state is between 500 and 600 workers. The OYES programme engaged 20,000 in 30 local governments areas including the area office at Modakeke, making an average of 600 plus per council area. This has, to a large extent, improved the lot of traders in the various communities. Very soon, the people of the state would begin to experience positive changes in the various facets of their lives.

'Today, it is obvious that Aregbesola's government has, within 100 days, redeemed its promise. The OYES is not just about adding value to the cadets, but it's a scheme which has come to stimulate economic buoyancy of the state as its beneficiaries would in turn inject about N200million to the economy monthly.'