The former Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, on Tuesday called on governments at all levels, to invest more in the entrepreneurial development of Nigerian youths, to tackle unemployment.
Mimiko made the call in his address at the activities marking official opening ceremony of the “Conversations for Change” (C4C) an NGO, with support from UNFPA, in Abuja.
He said that the call for investment in entrepreneurship has become important because it is key to achieve sustainable national growth and self-reliance of young people in the country.
According to him, entrepreneurship is not just about starting businesses as most people often think, but it is a mindset, a new way of thinking and acting.
Mimiko said “in these modern age entrepreneurship involves thinking of new ways to solve economic problems and create values.
“It requires attitude, knowledge and skills, if we get this right our country will better for it, failure to invest in the entrepreneurial development of young people can hinder national growth.
“It should also be a major part of our educational curriculum; this is important because doing so will help to drive growth of our nation’s economy.
“It will also enable us to build sustainable value chains of agriculture, modern technology and create necessary jobs for teeming unemployed graduates that churned out yearly from universities.”
Also speaking, Dr Kechi Ogbuagu, President of C4C and Chairman Board of Trustees, said that the issue about unemployment had become prevalent in Nigeria, therefore the need for entrepreneurship to proffer solution.
She said that the fact governments had continued to struggle with tasks of creating jobs for young people, much still need to be done to achieve target.
According to her,hence the need for young people to be supported to become successful entrepreneurs.
Ogbuagu said “our intention is to contribute to this effort by casting a wider net to include many young people who have great ideas.
“Ideas that if well actualized will provide them and in due course other young people with effective and sustainable means of livelihood.
“300 people applied to take part in the programme, 50 of them were interviewed, but only 15 were selected as our first batch of students in the entrepreneurship fellowship programme.
“Three of them are into fashion designing, two are into ICT, four are into recycling, two into health and the remaining four are into food processing.”
She explained that the organisation has organised a one year fellowship programme for young people from 18 to 40 years of age with ideas that is tailored to make them entrepreneurs.
She explained that the programme which started since July sought to support and mentor young people to succeed and create more opportunities for others to be gainfully employed.
She identified the social media initiative, employment initiative, demographic dividend initiative and youth mentorship initiative, to be strategic focus by the organization to achieve its plan.
In a remark, Dr Eugene Kongnyuy, Director of UNFPA in Nigeria, said that entrepreneurship initiative was apt, because youths are key to nation building.
Kongnyuy said “we need to work with young people because they form 60 per cent of Nigeria’s population and if their energies are channeled into doing creative things, unem0ployment will reduce.
“Government can only go as far as trying to solve the problem about unemployment, but cannot do it all alone, jobs does not come by creating employment, by entrepreneurship.”
Meanwhile, Mr Eric Ochigbo, a beneficiary who spoke on-behalf of the programme participants, commended the establishment of the entrepreneurship initiative to be a right step in the right direction.
According to him, we have been trained on entrepreneurship skills for five days, right now we are on internship in various businesses that we selected for ourselves.
“We are to acquire practical experience in lines of business we have chosen, hopefully we are expected to establish our individual businesses after completion of the programme in 2019,” Ochigbo said.
Our correspondent reports that C4C is a non-profit international organisation with the aim of empowering young people to participate effectively in all relevant areas of development.