More than two years after they graduated from various vocational skills training, beneficiaries of the World Bank-assisted State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR) Project in Bayelsa State are yet to get their starter packs.
The over 400 beneficiaries want the agency to explain to them why the delay to give them the starter packs.
The beneficiaries underwent between two and three years of training at different centers in the state, including Government Science and Technical College, Okaka, and the Government Craft Development Centres in Sagbama, Adagbabiri, Ayakoro, Polaku, and Nembe.
They were trained in trades such as cosmetology, welding, plumbing, electrical installation, diesel/outboard engine repairs, fashion and designing, catering, hairdressing, computer craft, and business education, among others.
Some of them complained during separate interviews that they were even more frustrated by the delay in the release of the starter packs after attending verification exercises where their hopes were raised.
According to them, the costs of the tools and equipment for their various vocations are exorbitant in the market and they cannot afford them.
One of the graduates, Ebi Clement, who trained in hairdressing and cosmetology, said the delay in giving them the starter packs had made things difficult for her.
She said, “I trained at Sagbama for two years, and it has not been easy for me without the starter pack. They (the government) promised that they will give us starter packs after the training.
“Since we finished the training, we have been waiting for the government to give us our starter packs, but they have not given us. We cannot buy them in the market because they are very costly”.
Another beneficiary, Timi Graham, who trained on electrical installation and maintenance, said: “I finished training in 2019. Since we finished the training, we have not received our items of empowerment because they promised they will give us and we were happy.
“They called us for verification last year, they interviewed and asked us questions on our trades, and everything was concluded. They said they will give us the items as soon as possible, but till now we have not seen anything.”
The beneficiaries appealed to the government to distribute the starter packs to enable them to practice their trades effectively to better their lives and also be self-reliant.
Available reports indicate that the SEEFOR Project office in Yenagoa rounded off its activities in the state on September 30, 2020.
Reacting to the development, the Commissioner for Education, Hon. Gentle Emelah, said that his ministry was preparing for the ceremony of distribution of the empowerment packages to the beneficiaries, adding that the approval of the date by Governor Douye Diri was being awaited.