AKEES Project: Before you Crucify Ufot Ebong, Udom Emmanuel

By Nelson NseAbasi
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Mixed reactions have trailed the much publicized empowerment scheme of the Governor Udom Emmanuel led administration tagged “Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme-AKEES”, aimed at creating 10,000 jobs for the teeming youths in the state, in fulfillment of his campaign promise to create employment oppurtunities, this has made it inevitable to set some records straight.

Not too long after the unveiling the project, a local tabloid in the state reported that the project is worth N5 Billion (Five Billion Naira) and that the number of youths claimed to be employed so far is false, the report further opined that AKEES was an election rerun mobilization strategy for Governor Udom Emmanuel, and since there won’t be a re-run, the project is gradually diminishing, and the organization is only out to build a database of unemployed in the state.

Just before the critics crucify Governor Udom Emmanuel on their cross of deceit, it is important to set the record straight to ensure that the innocent public are not misled with their falsehood, misconception and lies.

For the benefit of those who do not know, AKEES is a franchise scheme incorporating technical and vocational skill acquisition and entrepreneurial training designed for the implementation of the State Government’s new Enterprise Development Programme aimed at empowering all unemployed youth through hands-on training on creative activities and services. In a nutshell it is described as LEARNING BY DOING AND EARNING WHILE LEARNING.

The project AKEES is in line with the Dakkada Philosophy, beseeching Akwa Ibom people to rise to greatness in what their hand findeth to do. Thus, trainees are equipped and empowered with the mind-set and practical skills required to become first class competent and technically skilled entrepreneurs creating wealth and offering employment to other youths.

AKEES Program is Free, no age barrier, no minimum qualification, all qualifications are accepted, and the benefits of the project is huge, beneficiaries have the opportunity to utilize their skills, become an entrepreneur without incurring heavy startup costs, gain additional skills while being gainfully employed. Successful candidates receive hands-on training prior to engagements and deployments, on successful completion of training, participants shall be dispatched to a business franchise to begin work.

Briefing newsmen during the unveiling in Uyo, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Technical Matters and Due Process, Ufot Ebong explained that the scheme is designed for the implementation of the state government new Enterprise Development Programme targeted at generating more sustainable employment opportunities for unemployed youths, he noted that the scheme will be scaled up in subsequent phases to ensure that the current unemployment rate plaguing the state is reduced by 50 per cent in the next four years.

Ufot Ebong while presenting the project report in a chat with journalist confirmed that while he is not directly in charge of the project, it is pertinent for him as a responsibility of his office to oversee all government projects. Commenting on the key objectives of the scheme, he mentioned that it will create the enabling structures needed to easily set up and grow business, mentorship and counseling of youths, enterprise development, as well as technical and vocational skills acquisition, adding that trainees will earn wages during the training exercise.

Ebong said asides the accessible registration platform online with the website, www.akyees.com registration desks were also placed at local government council headquarters across the state, and thousands of youths in the state are beginning to take the opportunity offered by the state government to hone their entrepreneurial skills.

Elder Ebong is a Geologist with approximately 25 years working experience involving management of vast human and capital resources. Speaking on his appointment by Governor Udom Emmanuel, he referred to it as one of the greatest honour done on him to head the Bureau of Technical Matters and Due Process. He assured that selection for AKEES will be done through a transparent IT-driven process, DEVOID OF PROXIES AND POLITICAL PATRONAGE which ensured even participation of candidates who genuinely would want to create wealth for themselves through entrepreneurial ventures across the 31 Local Government Areas.

A man of such pedigree can’t be wrong; maybe the distractors are misquoting him for the Multi Billion Dollar Project he handled while with Shell. He boasted in his office, ‘I am the only Nigerian in the history of Shell to handle such capital intensive project, which had me supervising over a hundred people in different countries and continents’.

I quite agree with him, Multinationals are not sentimental; he must have been good on his job to attain such enviable height and to be given such enormous task, which is what I think Governor Udom Emmanuel has seen in him.

For the sake of transparency, which the Udom Emmanuel-led administration is known for, Ebong reiterated that registration statistics will be displayed online at the website for easy accessibility and verification by any interested party and also, the number of jobs created from registered participants is displayed through a ticker on the website. He also hinted that based on areas of interest and passion, candidates will be opportuned to hone their skills while earning a living working in the employment of an empowered local businesses, or take up franchises to easily start and grow their business.

So far so good, approximately 11,598 persons have registered for the scheme, 1,013 have been employed at the secretariat, AKEES offices and partners’ businesses, while 85 businesses have either been established or have received seed capital for expansion. Regarding monitoring for effective implementation, the participating individuals and businesses shall be monitored and coached to reduce the risk of failing or reducing costs where possible.

Testimonials of beneficiaries and documentaries are available for verification on the website and a Feedback mechanism is also provided. One of the beneficiaries is SUNNICK CLOTHING, Oron Road, Uyo, a small tailoring business owned by a couple, which has now received funding as a Community Facility Centre for Fashion Designers. Tailors without modern facilities can pay a token monthly to have access to the industrial sewing machines to enhance and increase their production.

The testimony of Sunnick Clothing is just one amongst many; Cash Log a finance management company was also launched by AKEES, as a software/application to assist small and medium scale companies keep good business records. At AKEES, It is well understood that every being is blessed with talent and has skill, so theirs is platform for those who will like to put those talents to use to build conglomerates, while others who have the endowment of ideas that can be established into companies which will create jobs for others.

As you read this piece, another beneficiary ‘Orbit Studios’ is equipped to commence trainings on Photography and Cinematography. They are also accepting movie scripts from creative writers to be considered for shooting.

Anyone who has doubts to clear can take a trip to the AKEES office on Ibb Avenue opposite Ibom Hall, or the Edet Akpan Avenue office, and request for all information needed from the media desk, or directly from the Coordinator of the project Mr. Nduesa Ebong.

Get on the AKEES train as they journey to success, like the saying goes ‘If you cannot pursue your dream, you will have to work for someone who can’, whatever category you fall under, there is a place for you at AKEES.

Registration into this scheme is on-going, register now at www.akyees.com

Nelson NseAbasi is a Journalist & Media Strategist, he writes from Uyo. 08131318414

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