Determined to provide a knowledge-driven development for Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki, is seeking ways to enhance the practical skill of students of the State-owned Benin Technical College, through collaboration with the private sector.
Besides, the Governor said as part of his administration’s strategic plans for competitive advantage, female drivers and mechanics would be encouraged to study at the Benin Technical College after a complete retooling and rehabilitation.
Obaseki made the disclosure in Benin on Monday at the graduation ceremony of 25 female mechanics students of Lady Mechanic Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, where he offered to engage female mechanics for the maintenance of government vehicles.
He said the partnership was in line with his agenda and electioneering campaign promises for job creation, youth empowerment and employment
He said his administration will consider the possibility of locating a proposed one-stop mechanic village in the premises of the Technical College, with a view to helping the students gain first hand practical knowledge.
“We would like to have further discussions with you. I know you said you have a piece of land somewhere to develop as a one-stop mechanic village, but we would like to review and see if we can locate that workshop to the premises of the Benin Technical College, so that we can begin to relate to practical technical training with the training we receive in school.”
“Benin city is a transportation hub, that is why the automobile business in this state is quite large. And as part of our strategic plan to make sure we have that competitive advantage, we would like to have institutions or initiatives like this that fits into our own plans.
“As you know, under the ECTS-Edo State Transport Service, with the Comrade Bus initiative, most of the drivers are female. We want to put more money into that initiative, and more importantly, we want to give them the capacity not only to drive those buses, and the new ones we are going to purchase, but to also maintain this process. We in Edo State Government will support and we will get other partners to support it.
“I want to throw an offer to you today; In Government House, we have a workshop. We would like you to come and take a look at it and also see if you can take over maintenance of the vehicles in Government House,” Obaseki offered.
According to the Governor, “tackling the challenge of unemployment, the challenge of rebuilding our communities and society is not the challenge that rests on one arm of government or one set of institution alone. It is a challenge that all of us must combine together to deal with, whether you are government, whether you are civil society, whether you are private sector.
“That is the reason why as Governor of Edo State, once I realized that this initiative had taken root, I said the least that we could do is to come here and help to participate in the graduation ceremony of the last twenty five of the hundred students this programme started with. I hope that as sponsor, Coca Cola will not terminate this programme with this set. I am going to make a passionate appeal, and if you need me to come to your headquarters, I will come so that this programme can be extended.”
The Governor who assured that government will rebuild and develop the Benin Technical College said, “My first official assignment when I resumed on Monday, the 14th of November was to visit the Benin Technical College. First, to send certain signals that I campaigned on the fact that we will create a minimum of two hundred thousand jobs – I meant it.
“So, my first assignment was to go to that institution that historically we had set up to develop manpower for industry and our economic life. I was really disappointed with what I saw, but from every disappointment comes challenges, and we are committed. And as I speak to you now, there is a team at the Benin Technical College doing survey, re-establishing the size of the land, with designs and working out plans so that within the next thirty days, we would have awarded the contract for the redevelopment of that school.
Earlier in her welcome address, the founder and coordinator of the Female Mechanic Initiative, Mrs. Sandra Aguebor, said she has been able to train and empower over 1000 female mechanics in Nigeria since its inception in five states, namely, Lagos, Edo, Kaduna, Kano and Abuja.
She said: “Your Excellency, we are here to work with you. That burning passion that has been there for a long time, I can see that these girls will do more than we have done today. Coca-Cola has just prepared the ground.
“We want to scale up on what we are already doing. Your Excellency, Sandra Aguebor is here to support your administration. I have not got one sponsorship from the government of Edo State, but this time, I am very optimistic that it will happen. We want to be part of your administration, and a lot of these girls already have jobs. I think with you today, I also perceive that you are going to give employment to some of them.”