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3000 frustrated trainees of Ibom Project threaten protest

By Isaac Job, Uyo

Trainees of the 3000 Project by Akwa Ibom State Government, said to be abandoned, have threatened to stage a protest, The Trumpet has gathered.

The government through the Ministry of Trade and Investment had last year commenced train- ing of 3,000 youths in a scheme meant to identify, train, mentor, empower and build capacity of existing Medium and Small Enterprises, (SMEs) and startups across the 31 local councils of the state.

The Trumpet gathered that the scheme, was meant to run in three phases with each phase having 1000 trainees who would focus on three areas of choice which include oil and gas, agrobusiness as well as ICT and SMEs to enable them secure gainful employment.

However, the beneficiaries of the project who have successfully concluded their trainings in April 2021 have expressed worry that they have neither gotten the certification nor startups as promised by government over one year after the exercise.

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It was gathered that the graduation exercise was stalled following the resignation of the then Commissioner, Mr Prince Akpabio, in pursuit of his political ambition. A trainee, who identified himself as Mfon, narrated to our correspondent that, after the exit of Mr Akpabio, the new Commissioner, Engr. Camillus Essien Umoh, invited them to the state secretariat for a graduation ceremony but later dismissed them promising to fix another date for the exercise as he was very new in office.

Mfon, who lamented that nothing has been done yet, urged the state government to fulfill its promise by giving them the startups so as to put what they learnt into practice adding that they are wasting away. Another trainee, who did not want her name mentioned for fear of victimisation, regretted that despite the stress they passed through and the monies spent on transportation from her local government, Ikono, to the state secretariat in Uyo which was their rallying point, she is yet to receive the startups from government.

She said, “the stress was too much. We would go to the Ministry and the car they made available will convey members to different designated training centres around the local government. “By 4:00pm they will convey you back to the Secretariat from where you go back to your destination. It was not easy for some people from far distance, to transport themselves to the state Secretariat, some people from Ini, Ibeno really suffered because they paid their way to Uyo.

The government told us that at the end of the training they will empower us, but nothing is being done.” Also, another trainee, identified as Joseph, disclosed that they felt abandoned by the state government noting that plans are underway to embark on a protest. “Upon all the promises by the state government to us during the training, nothing has been done, no empowerment, nothing, and they will be telling us come today, come tomorrow.

We are planning a day to go out for protest, because we are not happy at all,” he said. However, a source in the Ministry of Trade and Investment, who also pleaded anonymity, explained that the graduation ceremony would have taken place in April but following the resignation of then Com- missioner (Akpabio) to contest for the House of Assembly the ceremony was stalled.

He attributed the delay to rise in exchange rate, as the laptops that were supposed to be given to those in ICT was estimated at about N150, 000 each but has risen to N550,000 now. He said the state government was doing something about that. According to the source, “from the market survey we conducted so far, the estimated price for laptops have gone up.

Another memo has been sent to the governor on the variation so that the items can be purchased. “They should be more patient. If they are given money equivalent they may lavish the money and that may not make meaning to them. The graduation ceremony would be done at same time.”

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