By Chukwuemeka Opra
Abakaliki – Mrs Jennifer Adibe-Nwafor, an aide to Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi, has charged the nation’s private sector to support government’s efforts to re-engineer artisans and crasftmen in the current bid to reposition Nigeria’s economy for the post-oil era.
Adibe-Nwafor, who is the Special Assistant to Umahi on Inter-Party and Labour Matters, gave the charge on Monday in Abakaliki during a two-day capacity building workshop for members of the Artisan Association of Nigeria, Ebonyi chapter.
She described the workshop as apt, pointing out that artisans, craftsmen and entrepreneurs provided a window of opportunities for the nation’s post oil economy.
She said: “We are presently witnessing huge job losses occasioned by the decline in oil revenue and COVID-19 pandemic, which have negative effect on the economy.
“Nigeria has largely relied on oil as its main source of revenue because it supplies up to 90 per cent of the country’s gross earnings.
“Recent events, however, show a gradual but permanent decline in the dependence on fossil fuel with an anticipated partial or total non-dependence on petroleum in few years time.
“It is expected that by the time solar and wind-driven automobiles replace the ones that use fuel, craftsmen will still remain relevant and competitive in the nation’s economy.”
Adibe-Nwafor said that the state government had been proactive in this regard with the introduction of over 33-solar powered electric tricycles into the state’s commercial transport sector.
“The state became the first in the country to achieve such feat and similarly established a vocational college which trains the youth on ways of fabricating electric tricycles, among other areas of skills acquisition,” she said.
Mr Friday Eze, the state President of the association, said that the annual workshop was designed to introduce modern business techniques to artisans and craftsmen to enhance their businesses.
Eze said that the workshop was organised in collaboration with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), which would soon post their members to various master-craftsmen for adequate training.
“We are using the ITF office as a training centre and this workshop will enable ITF to effectively handle these youth when they are eventually posted out for training.
“The trainees will be equipped with innovative ways of running their businesses and mindset to adopt new business techniques,” he said.
Mrs Chioma Egbobe, Head of Training, ITF, Abakaliki Area Office, said that the training would help the artisans to make informed decisions and adopt new techniques to improve their businesses.
“We will also equip them with the requisite knowledge and capacities to confront the challenging business environment in the wake of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic,” Egbobe said.
Miss Anna Item, one of the participants at the workshop, thanked the organisers for providing such opportunity and pledged to effectively utilise the knowledge garnered from it in her business.