Some time in October 2012, the state owned media organisations were awash with news of the laudable decision of the Plateau state government to sponsor fifteen (15) indigenous bright and young graduates (of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering disciplines) for training at the “National Power Training Institute of Nigeria” – at the institution’s prestigious and newly introduced Graduates Skills Development Program (NGSDP).
The news item which was on repeat for several weeks in most of the states media outfits, reported that “fifteen graduates, were carefully selected from each local government in the state, to meet the required state quota of fifteen (15) for the program”. It also portended, that after their training, the government would take advantage of the skills acquired by the young men, by absorbing them into the technical areas of the civil service, as a means of injecting fresh blood and trained manpower into the service.
Well, two years down the line, ViewPointNigeria ran into some of these graduates and sought to find out how they were doing in their technical/engineering capacities within the civil service. To our shock and horror – the graduates confirmed that only a selected few of them who had connections within the state government, were ultimately granted appointments after the training. The majority of them were largely ignored and shut out. The graduates were full of regrets and lamentations at the way they were treated by the state government, saying that they were frozen out because they did not know anyone within the system.
They complained that the one year training was completed in October, 2013 and the Government was officially communicated of their graduation in writing but nothing was done since then to honour the promise of their absorption into the state civil service as endorsed in a legal bond entered into by both parties.
Responding to question from our reporter, one of the graduate Da’es Danak Panyo’on lamented their ordeal saying “we were full of joy and gratitude at the then gesture of the government for counting us worthy of being trained and absorbed into the civil service to contribute our quota to the development of our dear state”. “We were even forced into signing legal bonds that prescribed that everyone of us was bound to serve the state as a civil servant for at least five (5) years before he or she be allowed to seek for employment outside of the state civil service”. “I remember how we were asked to fill forms and get the endorsement of two guarantors each. The Secretary of the Plateau state scholarship board signed on behalf of the state government. We were even asked to open files each at the ministry for water resources which was then our supervising ministry”. “We initially thought the training was to be done at the Institute in Abuja, but latter discovered on commencement that we were to travel and spend week’s and sometimes months on different power facilities locations scattered across Nigeria”. “We were made to understand that the program was design in such a way to give us all the needed hands-on experiences to develop our basic engineering skills. I personally travelled to six (6) different locations and spent months and sometimes just weeks mostly either as a squatter or in temporary rented apartments”. These were very terrible and difficult circumstances we all went through with joy bearing in mind that the arrangements on ground with respect to securing employment was almost a done deal. It is really unfortunate that two (2) Years after graduation, we are here still talking about being absorbed instead of listing and reporting our achievements in the different sectors and areas of our specialisation”. “I can’t imagine that the state will spent huge resources in training young graduates and end up employing untrained fellows and backdating their employment for sentimental reasons. Most states are evolving new strategies of injecting fresh and trained graduates into its work force to keep track of New trends and wind the confidence of investor’s especially in areas of public private partnership. Imagine an interested investor willing to partner our dear state in power generation, natural flow and exchange of ideas would engender confidence”. “This is what states like Lagos and Kano has sinced started doing. We can not be different. I would like to appeal to the New government Of Barrister Simon B. Lalong that we all hopefully see as a government for all, to consider our plight and look into our issue”.
In a separate chat with another graduate of the program Steven Nanchuat Jatau, our reporter gathered that another set of trainees were sent to the institute in the 2013/ 2014 session of the NGSDP by the state government which again spent an average of N1.5 million on tuition (up to N2 million total costs) and like his set, they went through same challenges of criss crossing the length and breadth of the country to acquire training. He said, unlike our counterparts in other states who have since been transferring knowledge acquired to others within their state civil service, we are still here lamenting. States that could not go into any legal arrangements with their trainees on issues of employment have since lobbied for theor engagement by the private employers in the power sector.
Given the high expenditure made in respect of training these graduates and the high skill set that they have now acquired -we call on the state government to absorb these fellows into the respective technical areas in the civil service. We fully understand that this mistake started from was the past administration, but given that governance is continuous and the fact that Barr. Simon Lalong promised to tackle youth unemployment and carry the youth along – we ask that he considers re-absorbing these fellows into the civil service.
We (ViewPointNigeria) shall continue to profile these fellows over the next few months to spur action.
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