The Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, on Thursday approved the employment of 300 applicants as workers in the Calabar Garment Factory built by his administration.
The governor announced the employment after applicants from the southern senatorial districts of the state had participated in a job screening exercise by the garment factory.
In a statement made available to our correspondent, the governor said the gesture was not only in fulfilment of his dream to create jobs for citizens of the state but to inspire young people who were not from privileged homes.
He promised the newly employed workers good salaries and welfare package, while reiterating the commitment of his administration to the welfare of the poor in the state.
Ayade said, “When we set up this factory, the intention was not just to create jobs but to guarantee that young men and women, who have been challenged by circumstances of their births, have the opportunity to better their lots.
“I’m so excited at what I am seeing here today – the number of people and their energy – and it is an indication that our factory has taken off. Remember, the factory has the capacity to create 3,000 jobs.
“Truly, if you call yourself a leader, your focus should be on the vulnerable and the weakest that we are engaging today. We will guarantee you good salaries, food and proper transportation.”
Ayade urged the new employees, who he tagged ‘great fashion engineers’, to leverage the opportunity to express their innate potential and be the pride of the state.
He said, “We want to show to the world that we have skills, great fashion engineers. I call you engineers because you are going to provide the skills that we have not seen before.”
The President and founder, Africa Young Entrepreneurs, Oluwa-Summy Francis, who was at the event along other entrepreneurs from other parts of Africa, said Ayade had justified the belief that youths could excel in leadership positions.
He said, “This is what happens when a youth becomes a governor – someone who truly has everything on his side like age, exposure, connections and commitment. When you have a youth in the saddle, we should expect things like this.”
Meanwhile, Ayade has launched the Rice Borrowers Anchor Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria, in line with the Federal Government’s plan to diversify the economy.
A statement quoted the governor as lauding the Federal Government’s proposition to make agriculture the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy.
He said, “We must seize this opportunity to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for introducing this programme. We must thank him because if you follow the road map, plan and vision for this initiative, you will definitely know that this is the beginning of the emancipation of Nigerians from their continuous dependence on imported rice.
“This is what President Buhari wants to stop because it has the nationalistic outlook to put an end to the declining rate of the naira to the dollar. When we stop importing rice, we will be adding value to our naira.
“It is key that you appreciate at this point the CBN governor (Godwin Emefiele) and in particular, President Buhari, for it is a concept that we must support.”
Ayade said the Federal Government’s rice production scheme was in tandem with the Cross River State’s vision to become self-sufficient in rice production.
“We will add our own dimension to it. The government of Cross River is going to set up a proper professional food bank, the very first in Nigeria.
“We are going to set up a food bank, one in each local government area and the essence is to serve as the catalytic financial muscle that will pick up and buy off every single seed of rice that you will produce.
“The kind of farming we are going to do in Cross River State is going to be special because we are known for class, style and beauty. We will provide an agricultural mechanism centre to provide an industrialised support for farming.”