Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Enhancing self reliance among Akwa Ibom Youths

Enhancing self reliance among Akwa Ibom Youths

Unemployment in Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world has remained endemic, eating deeply into the socio-economic and political fabrics of the society, its attendant consequences, therefore, cannot be over-emphasized.  

This precarious situation which has often led to low productivity, political instability and upsurge in crime rate, has affected virtually all segments of the society.

When a child is born into the family, the parents take over the responsibilities of nursing the child from infancy to adulthood.  This, they do through the day to day feeding, clothing and sheltering of the child.  When the child is of school age, the parents start another journey of seeing the child throughout the educational years from nursery to the university levels of education, based of course, on the capacity of such parents.

This act is often considered by the parents as a worthy investment, believing that the child would someday grow into a fully grown adult who would be able to take care of himself, and in our African context, look after the parents in their old age, shoulder his own parental responsibilities to his children, as well as contributing meaningfully to societal growth and development.

Unfortunately, in most of the situations, the reverse is always the case, as these children grow into adulthood with unfulfilled dreams of making effective use of their energies, time and resources due to unemployment, and for those who are “fortunate” enough to gain employment in the labour market, their salaries, allowances and other incentives are not often commensurate with the energy, time and commitment they put into such jobs.

The current global economic downturn has further aggravated the situation in such a way that most companies who could no longer afford the wage bills of their employees now resort to massive down-sizing of the workforce, thereby compounding the already battered economic conditions of such employees.

In Africa, the situation has worsened considerably by the day, owing to the multi-faceted problems confronting the continent, ranging from corruption, ceaseless communal hostilities, religious extremism, insecurity, among others.
Little wonder, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, UN, Mr. Koffi Anan, in his recent submission disclosed that about 75million African youths were unemployed.  This figure, which many believe was far below the actual number of unemployed youths in Africa has been so alarming.

Even the developed economies have not totally escaped from this problem as most of the workforce have at different times been retrenched by their employers as a result of economic recession.

It was in the light of this development, that an international Non-Governmental Organization, NGO, called Jobs for Youths Initiative, JYI, whose head and Akwa Ibom State Chapter offices are located at Unice plaza, Fin – Niger bus stop, satellite town, Lagos and No. 12 Aka Road, inside plaza, Uyo, respectively, organized a 2 – day workshop for Akwa Ibom youths.

The workshop which drew participants from the three senatorial districts of the state was held from 4th to 5th August, 2017 at Vernica Hotel, Uyo.

In his keynote address, the Chairman and Founder of JYI, Dr. Onyx Kalu, said the essence of the workshop was to evolve mechanism that would ensure job creation for Nigerian Youths who, he observed, “have been looking for job opportunities, while those who have secured such opportunities have been under-employed.”

Dr. Kalu said it was for this purpose that his organization was established as a veritable platform for the rescue of unemployed youths through training on the acquisition of various skills which will make them achieve self reliance and become employers of labour.

He listed such skills to include: field records collection, manual and digital data entry, customer care representatives, among others.

The chairman who expressed dismay over the unfavourable working conditions of some of the youths who were fortunate to be employed by owners of companies, said such system was that of enslavement instead of the envisaged employment opportunities touted by those employers, adding, “you saw that interview we just conducted with an employee of a company who told us that he was paid fifteen thousand naira monthly, which means that the person is worth about one hundred and eighty thousand naira a year, which, therefore, implies that such a person is going to earn up in ten years, about 1.8 million naira, that is not even enough to pay for all the things the parents did for him, is that fair?”

He maintained, “We’ve come to a point where we ask ourselves why would the youths want to waste their productive period working for somebody when they could actually fix their own jobs and we’re using this opportunity to ask them to come over and we’ll show them how they can pay themselves, how much they want to be paid, so it’s a very golden opportunity”, he assured.

On the need for the re-orientation of the mindsets of the youths, Dr. Kalu who also served as the resource person at the workshop, said the re-orientation has begun, “Africa needs this re-orientation, and a whole lot of revolution has started, and if you look at it, you remember what happened during the Immigration Service employment at Abuja where many young Nigerians who were looking for employment lost their lives in the process and that is to tell you that there’s trouble in Nigeria and the re-orientation starts with me and you telling the youths “don’t go around loitering about for jobs where there’re no jobs, we will create the jobs for them and we want to partner and help government understand that we are capable of helping the youths discover their talents and do something serious for themselves.”

He further stated, “Today, I can tell you, if you are able to get the youths do something meaningful, they’ll be able to take care of themselves and you’ll notice that even corruption and crime will be at the lowest ebb, and that is what we’ve decided to do.”

On the pre-requisite qualification for the job creation programme, Dr. Kalu said all that was required was for the interested youths to have burning desire to succeed in life and be ready to learn entrepreneurial skills that would afford them the glorious future they deserve.

He further disclosed, “What we’re going to do is that we’re going to give the necessary orientation, we’ll give them what we call personal development and also show them how to grow on their own and overcome the fear of failure, which is the number one reason why a lot of youths fail in life,” he maintained.

In a paper titled: Seven Action Principles for A Successful Entrepreneurship, Dr. Kalu pointed out that, “For any carrier opportunity to be successful, the person involved must have a blueprint where the needed actions should be stated in clear terms and followed conscientiously.

He said such blueprint should contain daily schedule of actions, where target should be set for and cross checked at the end of the day; effective packaging of whatever product or service that is produced in line with global standards; proper customer management, as well as trust building, where persons involved are expected to enable one another through daily communication and exchange of ideas; reading of motivational materials for at least 30 minutes a day, among others.

Dr. Kalu who attributed failure of most enterprises to indiscipline and inability of the owners to set up self-assessment data bank, where their daily activities were evaluated, called for a change in attitude.

Earlier in his welcome address, the President of Jobs For Youths Initiative, JYI, Mr. Ubong Akpan, said the two-day workshop was organized in order to liberate Akwa Ibom youths from the white collar job mentality and present a global opportunity for them to be self-reliant, global citizens and financially empowered.

Mr. Akpan who lauded Dr. Onyx Kalu for being the pathfinder of JYI, said the cardinal goal of the body in Akwa Ibom was to raise one hundred thousand youths who would be self-employed, highly independent and financially stable, describing the workshop as “mind detoxification process.”

On the blueprint of JYI, Mr. Akpan stated that the implementation of the organization’s blueprint had already started with several youths benefitting from the initiative at Ikot Ekpene, stressing that, “within few months from today, we’re going to have not less than one hundred thousand youths in Akwa Ibom State as direct beneficiaries of JYI programme.”

Taking a retrospective look at his past, Mr. Akpan said he got involved in the job creation project in 2007 shortly after passing out from the National Youth Service Corps with two thousand naira, but with burning desire to succeed, he has received numerous benefits from the project till date.

He said the JYI programme was open to all the youths, irrespective of religious, social or political background.

Mr. Akpan who attributed his success to God’s benevolence and untiring effort of his mentor, Dr. Onyx Kalu, advised Akwa Ibom youths to take advantage of the global opportunity offered by JYI and enlist in the job creation project in order to secure financial future for themselves and their dependants, pointing out that, “with God on our side, we’re going to change the perception of Akwa Ibom as a civil service state to that of massive youths empowered state within the federation.”

The workshop which has as its theme: Job Creation: Vital Tool For Curbing Unemployment in Nigeria, featured interactive session between participants and the resource persons.

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