Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State.

By Olamide Lawal

Any nation or state that would thrive must be ready to build and include the will of the youth in all of its governmental processes. The reason is not far-fetched: the young ones, apart from constituting the largest percentage of the society, bear enormous influence that could seriously affect the government in power, positively or negatively. A Yoruba maxim reads, “The child whom you failed to teach would end up selling the house you built with sweat”. This means: the untrained mind of a chap can easily develop negative attitudes and behaviours capable of disrupting the entire peace of a family, locality, state and nation at large.

It is no longer news that majority of the banditry in our local communities and nation are as a result of governments neglect especially in attending to the basic needs of the youth. These youth, out of frustration though an untenable excuse have resorted to various dubious means just to get money for sustenance. Cybercrimes have become the order of the day, and our ladies cannot even walk alone on a quiet road, let alone sleep with their two eyes closed for fear of having their underwear stolen for ritual. While these acts are condemnable, the continuous acts of government in breeding an I dont care” attitude may spell doom on the future of the nation.

Having this foresight, the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun has since inception of his administration been relentless in his efforts to prosper the youth and bring an expected end to their problems.

The Ogun State Governor, in his unalloyed commitment and love for the youth, has surrounded himself with fresh brains. These are youth that are well exposed, intelligent and skilful; who can dig up innovations to help better the lives of their peers the youth in the State. The Governors appointment of the likes of SF Ojo Emmanuel as Senior Special Assistant on New Media, Lekan Olude as Special Adviser on Job Creation and Youth Empowerment, and Dr. Angel Kuye as Consultant on Agriculture is a clear indication that he is a lover of the youth and will do more for them in his all-inclusive government.

Having always emphasised his openness to public-private sector partnership, Prince Abiodun did not limit his strides to the usual inclusion of adults but has strategically ensured that the youth benefit greatly from the budding companies of the partnership within the State. To achieve this, details of the unemployed youth are needed; hence, government’s creation of a Jobs Portal to create a database through which their number, competence and qualifications may be ascertained before they are deployed appropriately.

Prince Dapo Abiodun, during the Launch of the job portal, affirmed that having gone round and seen the challenges people were facing in terms of unemployment; he was ready to mentor some of these youth who have the potentials to become future leaders and make them fit into the next generation of billionaires like Dangote. The Governor emphasised that he had embarked on the project because of his belief that youths should not be used as malleable tools in the hands of unscrupulous politicians. “We need to engage their creative energies positively to unleash appropriate skill acquisition that would bring about sustainable development for the economy by making them net-employers of labour,” Abiodun explained during the Launch in Abeokuta, the State capital.

The State Government has formally launched a job portal that has already begun registering underemployed and unemployed youth in the State with a view to providing them job and training opportunities suitable for their trade and academic qualifications. In fact, on the day of the Launch, thousands of job applicants logged on to the portal immediately after the event and within four short hours, over 10,000 people had registered with 70,000 just after two weeks. The glimpse of the Launch was the instant employment into the State Public Service offered 20 unemployed graduates, and these beneficiaries were selected based on their performance in the aptitude test conducted at the venue. This indeed is the first of its kind in the country.

I have no doubt that our youths will take maximum advantage of this portal. This would therefore, provide a platform to access readily available and updated information of our graduates and those with vocational skills across the State with the aim of matching them with potential employers and training opportunities, not only within the Public Service but also in the Private Sector.

It is interesting that Mr Kunle Soname, a sport enthusiast, financier and owner of Bet9ja, Nigeria’s largest sport betting company has been wooed by the Governor to invest in the sports sector of the State. The sportsman, who is very passionate about sports development, has a proposal to begin mentorship from the grassroots where the most effective and talented chaps reside and can get recognised.

Recognising the foregoing, Dapo Abiodun had disclosed that a sports commission to be headed by the sports enthusiast, would be set up to redesign sports in the State, adding that the necessary laws would be visited to help in its formation. In this light, sports in Ogun State, though neglected by the immediate past administration, will under Governor Dapo Abiodun, get a facelift order for people to follow their dreams. After all, the greatest sportspersons all over the world were once ordinary men and women who got support from appropriate quarters.

In positive addition, the GMD/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe has also disclosed plans by his financial institution to erect a 15-storey building and a creative arts and entertainment village (hub) in Ogun State. For clarity, it should be stated that it is an effort that will be enjoyed by the youth of the State in terms of creativity, information Communication technology (ICT), skills and entertainment where music and Nollywood would be looked into. Perhaps for the openness of the Governor, the bank is sure to offer employment to over two million citizens in the next five years, especially if the creative sector is maximised.

In fact, there’s a partnership underway in the State agricultural sector with a Chinese company. Prince Dapo Abiodun had promised to provide land for the youth and cooperative organisations, and at the same time, give them Certificates of Occupancy, CofOs for those lands, in order to give them a sense of ownership. Hence, Ogun State youths interested in agriculture would be part of those to help in growing the States economy by locally producing food items and selling same, thereby reducing importation of food into the country.

“While we have seen the success of the Anchor Borrowers Scheme in other states, it is disheartening that Ogun State has never accessed the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme through the public window,” the Governor said, while inaugurating a committee on the Anchor Borrowers Programme. The Committee, comprising stakeholders in the agricultural sector and headed by renowned Professor Adebola Okuneye, is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the programme is beneficial to the youths and fulfils its purpose of establishment.

This programme is designed to empower in the first instance 10,000 youths with 10,000 land hectares and the provision of seedlings, fertilisers and a produce buy-back initiative. When the Governor intimated Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, within the State on this agenda during a dialogue session held with them, they were all impressed and quickly offered to be Anchors of some of the (prospective) produce like cassava, maize and pineapple.

Ogun State is blessed with arable land and a friendly climate condition, hence that the Governor has identified these factors and decided to maximise them deserves commendation. We have seen some Governors who pay mere lip service to the agricultural sector but so far, Governor Dapo Abiodun has practically shown to be determined to open this sector for the benefit of the teeming youths. No wonder he emphasised during his campaign that within his first year in office, Ogun State would feed Lagos State and with his plan on agriculture so far, does he not mean business?

What an All-Inclusive Government!

To further deepen effectiveness and the quick alleviation of unemployment in the State, the Governor looked beyond sentiments by appointing a technology-savvy expert, who is also conversant with the recruitment process in Nigeria, as his Special Adviser on Job Creation and Youth Empowerment. The award-winning entrepreneur and technocrat with expertise in building and supporting companies across Africa Olalekan Adeniyi Olude is also a co-founder, Jobberman Limited, the leading job site in Sub-Saharan Africa. He is also founding partner of the African Talents Company, a pan-African executive recruitment company in South Africa, with offices in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. Obviously, to have a young man that resonates with the plight of the youth, in ones cabinet, is a pointer to the fact that Dapo Abiodun loves the youth and would never do anything to cause them pain.

To cap it all, the Governor will soon launch a digital village in Abeokuta where our potential technology youths would develop themselves for the benefit of the State. The tech. hub when opened will bridge the ICT gap in Ogun State and provide conducive environment for acquisition of knowledge on web design, coding, app development, web development among others.

This is a man that looked into the plight of MAPOLY students and painted their faces with laughter after Mr. Philadelphia had dumped them into the pit of darkness and confusion over their future in the institution. It is only the beginning, and like the Yorubas say: He has brought just the head of the bird out of his pocket.

However, it is most needed that the youths be patient and pray for Governor Dapo Abiodun, as he actualises in the coming days, his plans for them by walking the talk which is captured in his electoral campaign promises.

Plans and actions are important but when the former is skipped just to satisfy the latter, things would definitely get scattered. This administration is youth-driven and for Dapo Abiodun efforts, the needs of the youths will definitely be met.

-Olamide Lawal, a political activist, writes from Abeokuta.