Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister for Science and Technology, on Friday in Lagos urged State Governments to invest and support vocational programmes that could empower the youths, especially women and girls.
Onu, who made the call at the Graduation Ceremony of 170 lady mechanics trained by the Lady Mechanic Initiative (LMI) in conjunction with the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Board (LASTVEB), said this would improve the nation’s economy..
He was represented by Prof. Lucy Ogbadu,Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency.
“The involvement of women and girls in mechanical and technical skills training was unthinkable in the past, but with advancement in technology, things have changed.
“Women and girls now see mechanical and technical skills as a source of job creation and income. This is one of the means the President Mohammadu Buhari-led administration is exploring to improve the country’s poor economy.
“The ministry is willing to support and partner with any organisation in the area of technology, so that together we can train, employ and patronise our indigenous manpower.
“I appeal to state governments to key into this initiative to empower women and girls, so as to eradicate poverty, as well as boost our economy,” Onu said.
Also, Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State told the gathering that acquisition of vocational skill was the panacea to reducing poverty, crime rate, as well as achieve economic progress.
Ambode who was represented by Mr Olawunmi Gasper, Executive Secretary of LASTVEB, appreciated the initiative for training and empowering women and the girl-child across the country, especially 90 students from eight of the state’s public schools.
He reiterated his administration’s support for technical and vocational skill training and urged the graduating mechanics to access the state government’s employment fund to become self-empowered.
In her remarks, Mrs Sandra Aguebor, the first female mechanic in Nigeria and founder LMI, said that she established the initiative to empower vulnerable girls and women with mechanical and technical skills for a better life.
Aguebor said that their programmes provided comprehensive hands-on skills training and classroom curriculum in auto mechanic/electrician, professional driving, generator repairs, speedboat repairs and house plumbing.
“This initiative will help our women and girls become competent and qualified professionals in the field of automotive repairs and other related mechanical and technical skills, to enable them overcome poverty, illiteracy, biases and abuse.
“My dream is to build a Lady Mechanics Academy, and we are calling on government at all levels, corporate organisation and well-meaning Nigerians to support this project,” she said.