Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday presented certificates to 1,500 artisans and traders in the State who were retrained on modular employability programme as part of efforts to scale up the informal sector with a view to making members meet up with current realities.
The beneficiaries, drawn from various associations under the auspices of the Lagos State Council of Tradesmen and Artisans (LASCOTA), were solely trained by the state government for enhanced productivity in a total of twenty-four trades, including entrepreneurship, computer appreciation, writing business proposals, among others.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony and 8th Tradesmen and Artisans Day held at De Blue Roof, LTV 8 Compound in Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Ambode said the role of artisans and traders in the pyramid of socio-economic development of the nation was very critical in achieving sustainable growth and overall prosperity of the people.
He said it was in recognition of such fact that his administration had shown commitment towards ensuring that the event was not only sustained eight years after, but also designed to be more rewarding.
Ambode, who recalled various initiatives designed to scale up the informal sector such as the N25 billion Employment Trust Fund (ETF), among others, assured traders and artisans in the State that government would continue to implement strategies and programmes to promote their businesses and create conducive environment for their operation.
He said: “Giving the strategic role of the informal sector in our economic development in this State, our administration has opened an online portal designed to facilitate interaction among artisans, customers/end-users and relevant stakeholders.
“It is our primary role to make it easy and convenient for people in need of high quality service to meet reliable, trusted and verifiable service providers. It is also aimed at enhancing the productivity, competitiveness, creativity and vitality of this sector.”
While expressing excitement with the fact that it was the tailors from the State who produced the academic gowns used for the graduation, the governor said moving forward, the state government would now start to officially engage traders and artisans on jobs that would improve their economy.
Speaking on specific requests made by LACOSTA, the governor said: “As a start, we instruct the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment to see the capabilities and the opportunities that we can spread out from State jobs and contracts and give to our artisans.
“I am very happy to note that we have graduates among you and also graduates who are also your children. So, we hereby create an immediate opportunity through your associations to be able to recruit into key areas in the public service where we can need your services. These are not political promises, we keep our promises and we will fulfil all our promises.”
While congratulating the artisans and traders for successfully undergoing the training, the Ambode urged them to put all they had learnt to effective practice, and leverage on the endless opportunities of the strategic position of Lagos as one of the fastest growing economies in the world to be solution providers, just as he assured that the State Government would continue to provide and maintain the required infrastructure and conducive environment for businesses to thrive.
Besides, Ambode launched a compendium of artisans in the State to boost the informal sector, and also inaugurated operational bus donated to LACOSTA by the State Government.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mr Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti said since the last edition of the event, Ambode, as requested by LACOSTA, had already approved N12 million annual subvention to the association and increased the number of beneficiaries in 2017 to 1,500 from the 500 that were trained in 2016.
He said that the graduands underwent an eight-day intensive training programme in their areas of trade, adding that the awards presented to them were expected to serve as morale booster and increase the drive in order to create a competitive business environment.
Also, LACOSTA President, Alhaji Nurudeen Buhari commended Ambode for keeping his promise of scaling up the informal sector and prioritizing the interest of artisans and traders in the State.
He said as promised by the governor, many of their members had benefited from the ETF loan, among other fulfilled promises.