The Minister of State for Power, Hon. Mohammed Wakil has expressed optimism that the new initiative – National Power Sector Apprenticeship Scheme will radically bridge the existing gap in technical personnel that will run the power sector.
Speaking at the side line at the flag-off ceremony in Abuja today, Hon. Wakil said that the State of the workforce bequeathed to the newly privatized DISCOs and GENCOs is that many are ageing, sick with no fresh blood to replace them.
“It is very sad that we handed over power assets to the private sector under this deplorable condition”, he added that it is now time, for a responsive Government of President Goodluck Jonathan to redress the situation through this apprenticeship scheme.
The scheme he said has been conceived to train critical mass of lower level manpower like filters, machinists, pole climbers, sub-station operators and joiners, he was quick to say the scheme is not for engineers but for artisans whose skills will enable them operate and be gainfully employed in the power sector.
So, he said they will have entrepreneurial ability to become employers after their training, Hon. Wakil said “posterity will not forgive us as leaders if we allow a situation wherein even technicians are imported from abroad”. “This scheme will be driven by overriding interest of home grown, skillful individuals, even in areas like renewable energy – solar technology will offer budding opportunities to our youths”.
He cautioned that the programme is not in conflict with existing ones run by the National Power Training Institute (NAPTIN), rather unlike the engineers’ programmes, prerequisite certification is School Certificate, OND and few HND, as the idea of NAPSAS is to build capacity for artisans in the lower and middle levels in the sector.
When asked if the attraction by large number of participants is the stipend of N18,000 monthly they have been promised, the Minister said he does not think so, as he is sure many will make best use of the training, insisting that some can even earn above 100,000 after they have acquired necessary skills.
He reminded the group that Government intends to drive its youth empowerment programmes in such a manner that they would complement one another.
The Sure-P programme and other developmental initiatives will no doubt stem the youths restiveness in the North-East and indeed every other part of Nigeria he concluded.