By Ofonime Honesty

As Nigeria continues to grapple with debilitating economic realities, an initiative fashioned to help many wriggle out of the web of poverty and gain economic independence is up and running in Akwa Ibom State.

The business empowerment initiative is codenamed RHAB-YESS.
RHAB-YESS is an acronym for Youth Entrepreneurship Support Scheme.
It is the brainchild of a serial business mogul and politician, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey.


Bassey is currently the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and Vice Chairman, House of Assembly Speakers Forum in Nigeria.


Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey fully recognizes business as a viable route to self and communal emancipation, having experimented with and found success in it right from his early days.

A serial entrepreneur with chains of successful businesses, he has set a template that has to be encouraged, and emulated too.


Yes, emulated every legitimate tactic must be utilized to save an unfortunate population that is plagued by a poor leadership that has bizarre economic policies and full-throttle corruption as side effects.

The RHAB-YESS example is one that is unrivalled and must be emulated given its capacity, consistency, transparency and above its hefty packages. It is a profound way of discovering, mentoring and supporting the youth to find their feet in a challenging terrain such as business.


Records show that its progenitor’s attribute of building entrepreneurs predates the scheme. It was this zeal that led to the birth of RHAB-YESS in 2019.


RHAB-YESS has young entrepreneurs as its target audience. The scheme covers areas of capital financing of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), skill empowerment of artisans and educational support to indigent students.

Between 2019 and now, the scheme has supported 83 Small and Medium Businesses across the 31 Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State as well as trained artisans and given over 380 special supports.

Beneficiaries are selected from a pool of contestants in a monthly-held online contest on the RHAB-YESS official page on Facebook.

Contestants make five minutes video documentaries of their businesses, post same on YouTube, fill the online form, add the YouTube link and submit. The videos are then uploaded on the RHAB-YESS Facebook page for final selection of the best three by Facebook users. The top three contestants with highest votes (comments) smile home with monies ranging from 500,000 Naira, 250,000 Naira, 150,000 Naira and 100,000 Naira, respectively.


Further information gleaned from the Manager of the scheme, Darlington Udobong, indicates that apart from spending about N24.7million in empowering the entrepreneurs as at March 2022, RHAB-YESS has trained 10 youths in the Oil and Gas sector, 15 in Automobile Repairs/Maintenance and Oven-Baked Spraying, 3 in Woodwork, Metal Fabrication and Spraying at Chinese firm, Jiu Hua Nigeria Company Limited, embarked on 4 medical outreaches ranging from eye health awareness to general surgery and business grants to rural women.”


It has been tales upon tales of economic liberation and emancipation from the beneficiaries. Utibe Akwa, Chief Executive Officer of UtyTrends Enterprises and one-time third runnersup prize winner lauded the scheme, saying “with this scheme there is Hope for Akwa Ibom entrepreneurs.”
“Thank you Hon. Speaker. Thank you to the entire Team of RHAB YESS,” she added in a post on social media.

Beneficiaries of the scheme with officials at a presentation event in Uyo

Another beneficiary, Bright Malachy, a cobbler, was equally appreciative of the gesture and revealed plans to expand his business with the funds. A 500,000 Naira prize winner, Udeme Essien, a boutique owner in Uyo, described the gesture as a dream come true.
More testimonies abound.


Remarkably, the scheme does not stop at giving out funds to young entrepreneurs, it monitors how the money is utilized.
A team led by Darlington Udobong and Godswill Bassey always conduct routine inspection of the businesses and offer feedback to the RHAB-YESS management board.


Now in its third year, there is no sign of slowing down. Its progenitor, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey, imbued with a Pan-Akwa Ibom mentality, started off by involving indigenes of all the 31 Local Government Areas of the State. This writer has been told of plans to further expand the scheme. An excellent vision it is!


Given the gory economic realities and problems plaguing the youth population, there is a dire need to develop this set of citizens to enable them channel their youthful strength and zest into nation building. In fact, youth empowerment is imperative not only for national development but also for personal development of an individual. A youth who is rightfully empowered cannot indulge in terrorism, banditry, robbery, kidnapping, and other vices confronting the nation.

RHAB-YESS has definitely become a glittering success.


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