Knowledge is important, in fact, very important. But knowledge alone cannot develop a society. You need passion. You need foresight.
A leader who has consuming passion for the welfare of the citizens will always excel. Yes, sometimes he may falter or fail because he is human, but ultimately his place in the pantheon of the great is assured.
“What is left for this governor to do that he has not done? He has done all within his powers. We are not saying he has done all. But what is left to do within the limited resources available to him that he has not done?” asked a man during a chance conversation at the venue of the Ogun State Youth Convention, which ended on Wednesday in Abeokuta.
Apparently, he was impressed by the array of top-notch gurus in business, investment, agriculture, entrepreneurial, sporting and entertainment worlds that the governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, brought to the convention to share practical experiences with our youths.
“If you cannot make it after this convention; if you return home to depend on your parents and cannot do something with your own hands, then you have no one to blame but yourself,” opined one of the youths at the event.
The government of Ogun has offered these thousands of youths a lifeline. It has done its best in the area of employment generation. Apart from the 10,000 youths that were given direct employment by the Amosun administration in one fell swoop in 2011, several thousands have also got into the public service through Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON). But the highest number of direct and indirect employment, estimated to be over 600,000, have come through the over 100 multi-billion naira companies that were established in the state in the last five years through the enabling environment created by the present administration. Indeed, no one has contradicted the fact that Ogun State has now become the industrial capital of Nigeria.
The governor made it clear in 2011 his belief in productive employment: “Our plan is to create an enabling environment for businesses to flourish so that thousands of our youths can be taken off the labour market. Therefore, we will invest massively in security, modern infrastructure and remove bottlenecks that drive away investors from this state.” Of course, his efforts were rewarded through massive investments that flowed into the state within such a short space of time. One needs not mention here again that within three years, Ogun State, which in 2008 and 2010 was ranked the lowest in terms of Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria by the World Bank, emerged one of the five states “that made the biggest strides towards the national frontier of good practices.” (see World Bank Doing Business in Nigeria 2014)
We complain that our youths run away from agriculture, including graduates of the discipline. Investment in Model Farm Estates is one of the major solutions. Now in Ogun, they have modern houses to live in, land-clearing equipment instead of cutlasses and hoes and other agro-allied support provided by the state government. As the governor stated at the event, “Agriculture comes first for us in Ogun State because its value chain processes have a limitless capacity for employment and to create wealth… Currently, Nigeria loses billions of dollars every year to food imports. We cannot afford to continue to give jobs to the youths of other nations while our youths are unemployed. We recognize that mere words will not be enough to get our youths to consider agriculture. That is why we are seeking to stimulate their interest through policies and programmes which suit their needs.” One only hopes the current Farm Settlement Scheme, which once revolutionised agriculture in the old Western Region, will be sustained by the future governments of Ogun State.
Among the distinguished resource persons at the two-day event with the theme, “Ogun Youths: Exploring New Frontiers”, were Chairman of First Bank Plc, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Founder of Faith Foundation, Mr Fola Adeola, Acting Managing Director of Bank of Industry, Mr Waheed Olagunju, Founder of Peter Akinola Foundation, Rev Peter Akinola (Rtd. Anglican Primate), Managing Director of Fidel Farms Ltd, Mr Bamidele Okunaiya, Chairman of Worldwide Sports Ltd, Mr Segun Odegbami, ace film maker and Chairman of Mainframe Production, Mr Tunde Kelani.
It was not a “talk shop” but “work shop”. Participants were divided into groups depending on their areas of interest after the general seminar and they had time to interact with the resource persons. Among the topics addressed were, Accessing job opportunities in a competitive market, Waste to wealth, Building a successful vocational career, Opportunities in agriculture business in Ogun State, Opportunities in sports and Opportunities in entertainment industry.
The Youth Convention aimed at enhancing employability of Ogun youths in formal and informal sectors, catalysing a mind-set shift towards hard work, professional ethics and values, improving the capacity of youths to translate commercial ideas and opportunities into marketable businesses, creating awareness and improving access to job opportunities available in Ogun State and beyond and identifying and cultivating intrinsic talents and interests of youths.
There is no doubt that the practical knowledge acquired from such notable entrepreneurs across virtually all fields of human endeavours will remain indelible in the hearts of these youths and stand them in good stead especially at these times.
One must commend the Special Adviser to the Governor on Trade and investment, Mrs Hafsat Abiola- Costello and other members of the team for assisting the state’s helmsman in putting together such a highly productive and rewarding event.
For Governor Ibikunle Amosun, the future belongs to those who prepare for it today.