By Ali Abare
There is a new dawn for the teeming youths in Nasarawa State, who remain mostly unemployed and made redundant because of the absence of viable opportunities for embarking on meaningful business ventures.
This bleak future for the youths in Nasarawa State is coming to an end, with a light finally shining at the end of this dark tunnel, especially with the coming of the Engineer Abdullahi Sule administration.
Since his assumption of office as the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State, His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, drawing from his vast experience as a major player in the organized private sector, has evolved new strategies, aimed at creating enabling environment for the youth to contribute towards the overall prosperity of the state and the country at large.
Among such innovations started by the Engneer Sule administration, with a view to strengthen the efforts of the youths, in order for them to contribute their quota towards nation building, as well as impact positively on the socioeconomic development of the society, is the three-week intensive career kick-start training on employability, entrepreneurship and job fair for 80 youths selected from across the 13 local government areas of the state, which took place in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital.
Flagging off the training session on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, Engineer Sule noted that education as a whole means nothing if employability and entrepreneurship are missing, stressing that from his experience in the private sector, while holding sway as the Group Managing Director of the Dangote Group, the company frequently embarks on retraining of new employees, in order to impact in them necessary skills for the effective and efficient discharge of their responsibilities.
While noting that his administration takes employability and entrepreneurship seriously, the Governor urged the participants to also take the training seriously, with a view to making Nasarawa State a better place for all.
In her welcome remarks, Habiba Balarabe Suleiman, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor and Focal Person, Human Capital Development, said the programme, which is life changing, is being hosted by the Nasarawa State Government, through the Human Capital Development Office, in collaboration with Oxfam Nigeria as funding partners and Poise Graduate Finishing Academy Lagos, as implementing partners.
The SSA lamented that unemployment has continued to pose a challenge to the country’s development agenda, with a lot of concentration on job creating opportunities expected to create wealth and reduce poverty, but with little attention given to ensuring people have requisite skills and knowledge, to effectively drive those jobs to a value point output.
She assured both the funding and implementing partners of total support by the Nasarawa State Government, under the stewardship of His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, an advocate of the private sector approach, geared towards optimising skills and knowledge to maximise value production for the emerging knowledge based economy.
Also speaking, Innih Ikhide, Head, Poise Graduate Finishing Academy, said the training session is expected to bridge the gap in the knowledge obtained in the university and the demand for the work place.
While noting that the academy has so far empowered over 44, 000 youths in Lagos, Edo States, as well as across the country, Ikhide said the participants in Nasarawa will be empowered with 21st century soft skills and ICT skills that will turn them into great executives.
Immediately after the three-week intensive training, the 80 youths selected for the empowerment programme were treated to an elaborate graduation ceremony on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, where the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was special guest.
In his speech during the graduation ceremony for the participants, the Vice President commended the Governor for organizing the employability and entrepreneurship training, adding that Nasarawa State is among the few states that has a Human Capital Development Office.
“This definitely shows your concern for what is most important for any nation or community of people and that is the people themselves.
“The skills, talents and potentials of the people, their health, prosperity and education, all of this, is what is represented by the human capital development,” the Vice President said.
Prof Osinbajo told the participants that they were among the best equipped group of people that can be found anywhere in the country.
In his remarks during the graduation ceremony, Engineer Sule, said the training session was aimed at empowering youths in the State with the requisite knowledge and skills, for self-reliance, with a view to eradicating poverty, create wealth and generate employment for not only economic development but also curbing youth restfulness.
According to the Governor, participants underwent a 3-week intensive training on communication and social etiquette, business writing, selling skills, work ethics, excellence in customer service, initiative and proactive thinking, team building and problem solving among others.
“This is intended to enhance the capacity of our trainees to be gainfully employed, as well as engage in meaningful ventures, through active participation in various entrepreneurial skills,” he said.
The peak of the event was when the Governor disclosed that the occasion was not just to mark the graduation of the trainees but also bringing alone some key employees who may end up offering employment to the 80 youths.
Among those key employees, according to Engineer Sule are the Azman Rice Farms, with 14000 hectares in Toto Local Government Area and is currently in operation, the Project Manager, Dangote Group, with Dangote acquiring 68000 hectares of land and the Olam Group, currently having 10000 hectares in Doma, employing already 4000 workers.
Others are Fujian Marble, one of the biggest marble companies in the country, FCMB Pensions, Keystone Bank, NASENI, among others.
All these companies and more, have indicated interest to offer the graduating participants employment opportunities, which the Governor said and considering the significant role youths play in nation building, such opportunity will have positive impact on the socioeconomic development of the society.
The representative of Oxfam Nigeria, the funding partner for the project, pointed out that the year 2020, has been trying following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which impacted mostly on the lives of the people, especially youths in Nigeria, who are the largest working population.
According to the Oxfam official, if anything is evident from the ensuing challenges, is that skills are very important in the future workplace, with the pandemic showing that the future workplace is dynamic, flexible and constantly changing.
He pointed out that one way to empower young people and also build their resilience through the pandemic, is by building their skills.
“Skills are very fundamental in shaping a future that works for everybody. Skills are the bloodline for sustainable youth employment and development, ensuring employability through skills building,” the official said.
He disclosed that Oxfam Nigeria has been supporting young people with soft and technical employability and entrepreneurship training and has also been organizing job fairs with above 70 percent employment success.
Abare is a Special Assistant on Media to His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, Executive Governor of Nasarawa State.