She is to the female set of Nollywood, what Jim Iyke is to the male folk- the ultimate bad girl.
Whether in her acting, relationships, outspokenness and by her controversies, Toto Dikeh embodies the image of that bad girl. But not many people note the serious and humanitarian side of her. She represents the ultimate woman, an amazon to her people and the less fortunate.
She lives and breathes humanitarianism. Just recently, her pet project, The Tonto Dikeh Foundation (TDF) began the training for 350 unemployed youths in Rivers on vocational and specialised skills, to enable them to open businesses and employ others.
Ms Tonto Dikeh, Founder of TDF and 2023 Rivers Deputy Gubernatorial Candidate of the African Democratic Party’s (ADC), flagged off the three-week training programme in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
She said it is targeted to provide vocational skills and empowerment to the beneficiaries in catering, culinary, fashion and design, baking, make up, interior decoration, air conditioner and satellite (dish) installations, among others.
“We have also included coding as we want people to learn how to code (applications) and become players in the Information Technology marketplace. “We want to empower as many youths as possible with skills to enable them to earn a living; support their families, and create employment for others,” she said.
She expressed optimism that the training with the theme, “Free Direct Aid Empowerment Programme for Rivers State,” would generate many indirect jobs in the state.
Dikeh said she decided to give back to the people at a time most Nigerians, particularly the youth, were experiencing hardship due to the downturn of the nation’s economy. According to her, the economic downturn and high inflation have made many youths take to crime for their survival.
“So, when there is no employment, that is when you have increased armed robbery, violent crimes, insecurity, among other crimes and criminalities. “At presently, every youth is now looking for a legal avenue to become more productive. Nobody wants to be a liability anymore.
“This programme seeks to give youths some sense of belonging through their acquisition of skills, to enable them to fend for themselves and become employers of labour,” she added.
The Nollywood actress said that at the end of the training, the best five trainees from each vocation would be supported by the foundation to start their own businesses. She said the foundation was also planning to organise another vocational training on technology related skills, featuring instructors from South Africa and the United States.
Speaking, the Paramount Ruler of Rumuagholu Community, Obio-Akpor LGA, Eze Samuel Nyegwa, commended her for empowering youths from the area. He said that people were proud of Dikeh for her several contributions to the state, describing her as an illustrious daughter of Rivers.
One of the beneficiaries, Joyce Amadi, said she was delighted to have the opportunity to acquire a skill in fashion and design for free. Amadi said she had always wanted to learn the skill but had been unable to do so, due to the exorbitant fees charged by fashion houses in Port Harcourt.
“So, I thank Tonto Dikeh for giving me this opportunity to realise my dream of becoming a fashion designer and make a living from it,” she said.