By Babatunde Opoola.
In 14 months of his administration, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq has done a lot to create more opportunities for kwara youths.
The government deems the creation of long-term, decent and productive work for youths a priority, therefore keying into Technology and Communication sector which is a primary driver of economic growth that is creating several jobs globally.
Worrisome however, young women and men face obstacles in engaging in productive activities: the educational and training system does not provide them with the skills required to land a job in the private sector; they are perceived as high-risk due to their age and limited entrepreneurial experience, consequently finding it difficult to access capital to start-up or grow their business; business development services are often lacking, hard to access, and not geared towards the particular needs of young entrepreneurs; and they are often less knowledgeable about networks, markets and investment opportunities and sources of information than older players.
To tackle these issues and boost employment, entrepreneurship and inclusive and sustainable industrial development, towards sustaining an enabling environment for productively engaging the youth, the State Government has announced another three-week virtual digital training for youths as part of its ongoing efforts to drive innovation and give young people the skills of the future. The government had earlier in May trained over 3,000 during the COVID-19 lockdown, targeting 10,000 applicants in the next two months towards fulfilling the objective of its programme billed to benefit 30,000 young people across the state in three years.
This digital training in partnership with the Grow with Google and Wootlab, through the Kwara State Social Investment Programmes, KWSSIPS, provides services that assist and support structures to serve young women and men. Services that are geared towards increasing young people’s employability and providing them with the necessary tools to create and develop sustainable enterprises, and ultimately improve their livelihoods.
To prepare young people for their future careers, the Abdulrazaq’s administration is supporting an action-oriented digital entrepreneurship programme for students and other young people. This programme prepares youths to identify and implement business opportunities in the digital world, learn to “save, innovate, invest and grow”, and train them in the use of technology. The programme captures large numbers of young people, currently reaching out to about 10,000 thousands of boys and girls in Kwara State.
There is definitely a change in narrative in the present Kwara.This is the only period in our recent political history when you do not notice the intimidating presence of youths who have been turned into daredevil criminals in the name of good boys at government’s functions. The recent past have been unprecedented reign of terror and banditry as these political “goodboys” seized the state, making life nasty, brutish and short. Kwarans resigned themselves to fate as government cared less and were patronizing the daredevil criminals with government funds under the guise of youth empowerment.
The Kwara governor will not rent a crowd. He is not in the league of those that would manufacture supporters and idle youths to cheer a cherished leader. In words and deeds, Abdulrazaq has demonstrated that no matter the cost, the youth are dear to him and remains his priority.
Being the governor to have appointed the youngest Commissioner to serve in his cabinet, his appointment of many young people into various strategic positions is an unprecedented step of turning a searchlight on the youth and presenting them with opportunities .
Signs that the governor was on a mission to productively engage our youth started manifesting early in his administration when shortly after his inception, he approved the resuscitation of the State’s sports festival which was last held 15 years before his assumption of office, as part of his belief in productive engagement of the youth to attain their full potentials. For 15 years of their reign, the past governments cancelled the State’s sports festival.
These laudable initiatives are targeted towards encouraging youths to acquire attitudes, competence, values and social skills through sports development, political participation and decision making.
As a development-oriented government, the Abdulrazaq’s administration has set in very clear terms, a realistic agenda for the socio-economic transformation of kwara youth