Graduating students from the recently concluded Speed-Up Lagos Skill Enhancement for the Lagos Island East local government area were not given what they were promised. According to the program booklet, upon registration, students have been guaranteed to get the tools to help them further the skills they learn during the course of the skill enhancement upon successful completion of the program, as well as a sum of hundred thousand naira (N100,000) for the best graduating student in each department.
The reverse was the case as everything changed on the day of graduation. To start with, there are reports from graduating students that many of the graduates were not allowed to access the venue of the graduation ceremony.
“They did not allow us to enter the Lagos City Centre. Immediately I saw a heavy presence of policemen at the venue, I knew something was wrong. At a point, they started to chase us with tasers.”
The Speed-Up Lagos Skill Enhancement is supposed to be a skill acquisition path to help alleviate poverty at the grassroots, and a good look at the pathway will suggest that it is an initiative that can work. Skill acquisition on many occasions has proven to be an avenue to help avert poverty and build young people into model citizens. However, this new development is discouraging to the students, especially because their hopes have been high and now their expectations were not met.
What this means for the government, the organizers of the event, and for the students is a waste of time and resources.
Looking at the structure of the program, instructors were employed to teach the students. Should the students be unable to further practice the skills they learn due to a lack of tools to continue practicing, this will be a waste of knowledge. Both the students and the instructors would have wasted the time they could have used for other productive things.
While speaking with a graduate on what he thinks about the program, he had this to say:
“I won’t even waste my time to go for another again if they tell me about it. Firstly, the stress they made us go through before getting the graduation gown is unimaginable. We had to trek from Sura to Phase 2 Housing Estate to get the graduation gown, then trekked back to Lagos City Centre, only for us to get there and we were not allowed to enter the hall.
“Even our instructor was standing outside with us. They don’t recognize him so they didn’t allow him enter as well. Eventually, they called the best graduating student in our department who happens to be a boy and a woman pulled someone else to go receive his gift.
“Nobody can tell me that there was no politics involved in the structuring of that programme.”
Among the dignitaries present at the graduation ceremony are the White Cap chiefs of Lagos. This will further explain the heavy presence of armed policemen and bodyguards. Also, there were several media houses at the venue. A majority of them were running interviews with the students strategically positioned beside sewing machines meant to be given to them as empowerment tools from the initiative.
“There were lots of sewing machines at the venue. So much that it was everywhere we couldn’t even get a place to seat. They made sure reporters did interviews for students beside the sewing machine, and once they were done, they sent the students away. I guess it was for the press and for them to have something good to show on TV.”
It is worthy of mention that the graduating students were made to pay a sum of N2,000 with the promise that it will automatically save them a seat at the venue. Sadly, they were not allowed access to the venue of their own graduation ceremony.
“There were too many dignitaries there. The White Cap chiefs, the various social clubs, representatives of political parties. They didn’t even allow us to celebrate our own success.”
The Speed-Up Lagos Skill Enhancement was a two weeks program segmented into nine courses. Some of the popular courses in the different segments are Fish farming, Digital marketing, Phone engineering, Wig Production, Makeup techniques, Baking, Production of yam flour, making of nail remover liquid, and many more.
With a proper structure put in place, this can turn into an initiative that will help alleviate thousands of households by empowering the youths with skills that will help them become independent and in the long run contribute to the state’s economy, but if the issues are not addressed, this might as well go down in history as just another poverty alleviation program tried by the government that yielded no result.