The On-going Nationwide giving of new skills to youths and empowerment programme embarked on by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) moved to Nasarawa State with training and new skills given to One Hundred (100) Nasarawa youths in Modern design, production of Plaster of Paris (POP) and installations.
The training programme was the first-phase of North Central regional skill development to be carried out by NASENI as part of series of directives of President Muhammadu Buhari to the Agency to ensure that Nigerian youths were trained in various trades and professions, making them to acquire modern skills and empowerment for job creation and self-employment generation.
While declaring the training open today in Nasarawa State, the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive, NASENI, Engr. Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna said: “the on-going skill development training and youth empowerment programme by the Agency across the country aimed at introducing modern and technological ways of carrying out already existing trades and occupation by the people at the grassroots and it was also targeted at developing the needed critical competent work-force for industrialization of the country, a charge that had been given to NASENI by President Buhari”
He said also that the training and retraining were to make “practitioners more efficient and to enhance the prospects of earning a living from their chosen vocation. The Agency, he explained, always carried out its feasibility studies on vocations in all the geo-political zones of the country to know what the youths in each zone were already making a living from and to retrain them on how to use modern equipment to strengthen their skills and make more rooms for job creation and self-reliance.
The training titled: “Skill development training and youth empowerment on “MODERN METHODS OF CASTING PLASTER OF PARIS (POP) AND ITS APPLICATIONS IN NASARAWA, STATE was targeted at “achieving competent workforce in Nasarawa State whom he said had a golden opportunity to get contract jobs and prosperity not only in the State but the near-by Federal capital Territory”
Haruna speaking further, “we are in the nation’s home of solid minerals, Nasarawa state, the North-Central Zone of Nigeria to train 100 selected youths from the zone on the Modern Method of Casting Plaster of Paris (POP) and its Applications. Plaster of Paris, commonly known as POP, is basically dehydrated gypsum, or Calcium Sulphate, available in powdered form. When the dry powder is mixed with water, it rehydrates and sets in the shape of the mould into hard gypsum again”.
The NASENI’s Executive Vice Chairman went down memory lane as regards the origin of POP which various accounts described was associated with King Henry III of England who visited Paris in 1254 and was so impressed by fine white walls that he introduced similar plastering in England. Another account had it that the name Plaster of Paris (POP) had its origins from the fact that it was extensively mined from Montmartre in Paris District. Nevertheless, its use predated the industrial revolution of 18th and 19th centuries Europe and its introduction in Nigeria’s housing sector perhaps emanated from Togolese who came to Nigeria for greener pasture. Most of them specialize in casting and moulding of POP into beautiful designs for ceilings and interior designs or decoration. More than 70% of houses built in Nigeria today are done with the use of POP, its uses in housing projects is currently trending in the country.
One of the challenges of POP professionalism in the country is the absence of appropriate tools and equipment for the design, preparation, moulding and casting, thereby making POP work labour intensive with attendant inconsistency or non-uniformity where such patterns would have added beauty and utility. The extra manpower needed in manual handling of the designs translates to extra expenses and time wasting. But the advancement in portable electric power tools and computer aided design and mould making is not only beneficial in terms of profitability but also in terms of beauty and safety. This is the advancement that trainees are now being exposed to in Nasarawa State, which would also benefit traditional bone setting practitioners in accuracy, precision and optimal utilization of materials.
Professor Haruna thanked President Buhari for empowering NASENI to lead Nigeria to a manufacturing economy and undoubtedly skill development which is key pre-requisite in the development of a competent workforce for Nigeria.
The Executive Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr.Abdullahi Sule who was a special guest at the occasion, represented by Professor Umar GurKu, said if the use of POP were in high demand in Nasarawa State and beyond, then, the prospect of wealth creation and bringing job satisfaction to those involved in this area of vocation are also high. Such highly paying job area could not be ignored by a caring government without creating more enabling environment for innovation and professionalism. This is the reason for the state Government’s support for this skill acquisition training and empowerment programme facilitated by NASENI, he said.
The Chairman of the Occasion Senator Solomon Ewuga who was former Minister of Federal Capital Territory commended President Buhari for the programme of empowering the people at the grassroots. He said “it was only a caring Government who could come down to empower the people at the grassroots, traders and people with vocations”. He urged the trainees to take the new knowledge being impacted very seriously and also to resume their determination to succeed especially now that they have received high level attention by the Federal government.
The Chairman of the Keffi Local Government Area, Mohammed Baba Sheu, an ex staff of NASENI, who gave good will message at the occasion also, said, “after the training, Nasarawa State will no longer be the same as far as the knowledge and practice of POP were concerned”.