GIS: Why Govt Should Aid Beneficiaries With Start-Up



I wish to reaffirm government’s commitment to this unique scheme. It is one of the many success stories of government’s effort to reduce graduate unemployment. It is pertinent to let you know that many graduates are well prepared for this experience. This is because there are many that have proved themselves worthy and have already been employed. Others have yet to establish their own businesses, they have secured financial facilities and have moved on.”

With these words the Project Director of the Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS), Mr. Peter Papka underscored the relevance of the programme to reducing graduate unemployment in the country. Papka, who recently spoke at a Career Development and Entrepreneurship training for 2015 batch of the interns in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State through the agency’s Chief Operation Officer, Mr. Kefas Hosea, had denied speculations that the scheme had been scrapped. He had noted that the stoppage of SURE-P, which was the schemes parent body, did not affect it.

Papka’s assurance came as a relief to thousands of the interns who had already enrolled into the programme who were already worried that the programme might go the way of SURE-P as President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration settles down to governance. With Papka’s revelation that the Federal Government does not intend to scrap the scheme, what worries the interns now is that while some beneficiaries “have secured financial facilities and have moved on” as confirmed by Papka, there are thousands of others who have a clear vision of what to do but have funds to take off.

In Benue State for instance, beneficiaries of the scheme have cried out to President Buhari to provide them with funds to enable them start their own businesses.

Some of the 95 exiting interns, who made the appeal while charting with The Guardian at a three-day passing out workshop held at Green Belt Hotel, Makurdi, recently, also urged the federal and state governments to, in the alternative, explore possibilities of engaging them permanently into the service rather than pushing them back into the labour market.

Speaking with The Guardian, one of the beneficiaries, Yongo Janet Iveren, a graduate of Micro Biology, said she served with Pleasure Travels Ltd in its production department and was able to broaden her knowledge of the production of poultry feeds as well as baking within the period.

She noted that if not for lack of initial capital, she would have loved to start her own feeds bakery and be self-reliant.

Yongo lauded the Federal Ministry of Finance for sponsoring graduates on the programme, saying the experience was quite encouraging to them.

She further urged the government to sustain the programme in order to make emerging graduates more versatile.

Also, Mr. Nachi Nathaniel, a graduate of Animal Production from Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, who said he did the mandatory 12 months training under Oracle Business Ltd, said he learnt much through the scheme as he was trained on how to use feed milling machines to produce livestock feeds.

Nachi said he intends to own his big miller machine and set up a big animal feeds industry and farm but complained of lack of starting capital.

According Nachi, most if not all of them that received the 12 months training have the zeal to become employers of labour but are hampered by lack of capital to start their own ventures.

“We would love to start our own businesses but we don’t have collateral to obtain loans from the banks and so, we want government to intervene in this regard,” he stated.

Another stakeholder and a parent to one of the interns who simply identified himself to The Guardian as Mr. Orduen Peters implored both the state and federal governments to put heads together to find a way of integrating the exiting interns into the public service rather than pushing them back into the already over-stretched labour market.

With these calls for financial assistance from the beneficiaries, analysts believe that as laudable as the scheme is, the Federal Government should take it a step further by providing start-up funds to deserving beneficiaries.

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