Both the Legislative Internship Programme (LIP) and the Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) are two initiatives of the Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) that have, over the years, been doing the Nigerian youths a lot of good.
Every year, the LIP and EDP take place and scores of young Nigerians and students of higher institutions from across the six geo-political zones are provided with the opportunity of acquainting themselves with parliamentary structures and processes, with the objective of preparing them as future parliamentarians or parliamentary support staff.
The LIP training, a programme of the Parliamentary Support Institute (PSI), is usually a three-phase activity made up of a 2-day orientation workshop, 21-day internship with either the National Assembly or State Legislative Assemblies, depending on the proximity of Internsâ€™ places of residence and a 2-day experience-sharing workshop.
According to the Executive Director of ALF, Mr. Ayodele Aderinwale, the benefits of LIP are both educational and experiential. He said: â€œThe briefing/orientation workshop is designed to expose the beneficiaries to the theoretical underpinnings of the parliament, while the 21-day practical internship session will expose interns to the practical workings of the parliament.â€
He revealed that the legislative training is necessary because majority of Nigerian youths have military orientation arising from the long years of military rule in the country, adding that the public perception is that the House of Assembly is meant for hooligans. The training is therefore to widen the knowledge of young Nigerians on democracy and to train them as future parliamentarians or parliamentary aides.
The activities of ALF as one of the implementing agencies of the Central Bank of Nigeria Entrepreneurship Development Programme in the South West region of Nigeria, have equally been of tremendous help to the youths. The creation of Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC) in the three geo-political zones of South West, South East and North Eastern parts of the country is for national development, hinged on self-employment through innovativeness, creativity and generation of ideas.
The mandate of the EDC is to equip the trainees with the needed leadership, micro-enterprise development and basic business management skills, and render business development services that will qualify them for loans and for various financial institutions to run their business successfully.
As an implementing agent, the ALF is charged with the responsibility of producing 25,000 youth entrepreneurs, with a corresponding 25,000 new business to be created. So far, EDC Lagos has trained close to 1,800 graduates, non-graduates and vocational trainees from different parts of the country.
Before commencing implementation, Aderinwale made some valuable additions to the ED Project, which have received applause from the CBN. Firstly, having realised that micro enterprises can only create, at best, subsistent business men and women who can hardly grow the economy, ALF focused more on growth-oriented business that can create more jobs.
Secondly, the ALF also discovered that training the youth without any effort to mobilise them with start-up fund to set up their business leads to more frustration. It therefore, in partnership with First Bank of Nigeria Plc, designed a loan package of a single digit interest rate for trainees of EDC Lagos. An MoU was eventually signed on December 5, 2008, bringing the State Growth Enterprise Fund, otherwise known as the STAGE fund to reality.
Thirdly, ALF also came up with the idea of having notable successful entrepreneurs to come occasionally and in a relaxed atmosphere, share their thoughts and experiences with the youths during the training.
The Entrepreneurship Development Programme, as implemented by ALF in the South West, is basically to address the rising problem of youth unemployment and the attendant social, political, security and economic crises that are plaguing the nation.