Fashola Seeks Self-Employment Generating Middle Class

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Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Thursday attended the grand finale of 4th Tradesmen and Artisans’ Week and Graduation ceremony for re-trained artisans stating that with the partnership forged by the State with Artisans and Tradesmen, he foresees a new middle class that is capable of generating employment and creating wealth.

The Governor who spoke at the Blue Roof Hall at the LTV8 premises, Agidingbi, added that the middle class he sees is different from the ones everyone knew in the 70s that was the middle class that wore suits and ties and were paid employees.

“This middle class doesn’t wear suit and ties but is the master of its own destiny. It is the employers and the owners of its own business. It is technology inclined. It has a cell phone and now hires its own corporate identity and corporate cards to formalise its own business”.

“Those who doubt the capacity of what you can do should simply watch you take over the Nigerian economy. If we talk about an expected 6 to 7 percent growth in the African economy and in the Nigerian economy and it does not provide an opportunity for Tradesmen and Artisans and skilled people to fulfil their destiny and realise their dreams that economy has not performed”, the Governor declared.

Governor Fashola said he was glad to partner with the Tradesmen and Artisans to show that the Lagos economy is working because it is putting food on the table of Artisans adding that their challenges and problems would also be that of the State Government.

He explained that the initiative to start the annual skill and entrepreneurship capacity training programme for the Artisans was started to put them in the forefront of the business type that they chose.

“Our role would be to organise you and to educate and to support you so this skill training programme would continue. I have approved the training for another 1000 and as we go on we would measure the productivity back into the economy. But it is not enough for you to be trained but you must now become the trainers of the next generation”, he said. With examples from other climes on how technicians like vulcanizers work in designated locations and not on the roads, the Governor also charged Nigerians to stop defending bad business models and adopt better business models that give a win-win situation.

The adoption of better models, he said, would be the first step to bringing about dignity into the business that the Artisans do.

“The Nigerian economy is changing. Those who know the history of these economy will tell you so but as it is changing, it is getting bigger as those who don’t want to change are being left behind and this economy is increasingly having very little room for those who are just out there to go and depend but it is creating a lot of room for those who are ready to do things with their hands and creating a lot of room for those who are ready to think”.

“It is creating a lot of room for those who are ready to provide services in order to get rewards. It is creating opportunities for those who do not want to be indolent”, the Governor said.

The Governor explained that the government is measuring the changes especially in Lagos with refreshing outcomes indicating to the administration that the economy is in the right direction but that everybody has a role to play and therefore the proper business models are important.

“It is not only today that you will dress well. Whether you are a bricklayer, a plumber, whether a photographer, a baker, whether you are a tailor, always be conscious of your appearance. It will determine whether or not you will get the next customer. If you have to go out, don’t wear your overall, it is overall, not outside dress, remove it and wear your normal clothes and go about your normal business”.

He Governor recalled that recently, someone sent him a text message pleading with him not remove vulcanisers from the roads stating that the argument of the sender was that when a person has a flat tyre at night it would be difficult to manage the situation.

The Governor sought to know from the audience: “Did we invent the tyre? Who invented it. In the places that you have been to in Europe, where did you see vulcanizers on the roadside? Vulcanisers are often and always at petrol stations or in mechanic workshops and garages. We cannot have vulcanisers everywhere by the roadsides. It means when my car breaks down, I will park by the roadside; it means that I have taken one half of the lane and other commuters would not be able to move freely.

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“At the end of the day I will spend one hour to perform a journey of 10 minutes which means that I will burn fuel and peoples’ lives can also be endangered. If things are done in the proper way, more businesses will benefit. With the telephone, we can get to the vulcanizers”.

He commended the leadership of the Tradesmen and Artisans for the success of this year’s award and expressed the conviction that those who have benefitted from the trainings would not go back to the roadsides as vulcanizers or roadside block makers.

“You see the blocks that are made by the road side bricklayers we cannot verify their integrity nor the mix of their concrete and the sand. We cannot verify so many things. You may end up being the one buying that block to build a house that may collapse and this is why those business models must change so that we can measure what everybody is doing and regulate it and support”, he added.

“For me the roadside and highways are the sitting room lanes to our homes. That is what visitors first see when they come to our state and they will take away their impression about how organised and disorganised we are by what they see on our highways. It is only in this country that I see vulcanizers and bricklayers on the roads.

“It is not a sustainable model. Who licensed that block industry by the road and that is why our government is now building enterprise zones. Where we can identify you, organise you, we can provide power, water, we can provide internet access for you to be located, for you to be contacted. I think it is those kinds of models that have been used in other parts of the world that we must embrace”, the Governor reiterated.

The Governor also said the story of human civilisation is that artisans are the group that have built most nations and therefore any nation that wishes to prosper must pay attention to what they are doing.

Earlier in a welcome address, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce and Industry, Mr Seye Oladejo said the informal sector development initiative has gathered so much steam going by the level of enthusiasm displayed by operators in the sector as well as attention received from international development partners.

He added that that the Ministry has received technical support from the Department for International Support (DFID) under its ENABLE programme and also received support from the Equipment Leasing Association of Nigeria to ensure that operators can lease new equipment to enhance productivity.

In his goodwill message, the President of the Lagos State Council of Tradesmen and Artisans (LASCOTA), Chief Bola Sanusi expressed appreciation to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for the Insurance Welfare Scheme being proposed for LASCOTA members.

He also thanked the Governor for heeding their plea last year to develop one of the three Enterprise Zones across the State with the development of the Gberigbe Enterprise Zone.

While introducing the graduands, the Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB), Engineer Olawunmi Gasper said the course two programme featured 2000 practising artisans who underwent eight weeks of 120 hours intensive training.

He added that 1952 of the 2000 intakes have been successful and would be graduating at the ceremony, adding that efforts are also in top gear to bring on intakes for the course three of the programme.

Prizes were awarded to trainees who distinguished themselves with Mr Folorunsho Oluwatayo emerging as the best graduating student while prizes were also given to Mr Yesiru Bello from leatherworks, Mr Lawal Dauda in Welding and Mr Clement Adeniran in block making and tiling.

Prominent among those who witnessed the event were members of the State Executive Council including the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs Sola Oworu, the Chairman of the House Committee on Commerce and Industry, Hon Bisi Yussuf, the Olu of Ikeja, Oba Raufu Matemi, Amore 1, the Permanent Secretary in the Commerce and Industry Ministry, Mr Wale Raji, representatives of the collaborative foreign agencies  and hundreds of gaily dressed members of the various Artisans and Tradesmen groups.

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