By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
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 whole lot of good.

The 2009 edition of LIP is on-going now and scores of young Nigerians and students of higher institutions from across the six geo-political zones are being provided the opportunity to acquaint themselves with parliamentary structures and processes, with the objective of preparing them as future parliamentarians or parliamentary support staff.

The intership training, a programme of the Parliamentary Support Institute (PSI), is a three-phased 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 Interns’ 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: “The 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.” He said 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 agency of the Central Bank of Nigeria Entrepreneurship Development Programme in the Southwest region of Nigeria have equally been of tremendous help to the Nigerian 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 idea generation.

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 to qualify them for loans for various financial institutions to run their business successfully.

As an implementing agent, the ALF is charged with the responsibility of producing 25,000 young entrepreneurs with a corresponding 25,000 new businesses 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, the project executive director, made some value additions to the EDC 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 focus more on growth-oriented business that can create more jobs.

Secondly, the ALF also discovered that training the youth without effort to mobilise them with a start-up fund to set up their businesses 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 in occasionally and in a relaxed atmosphere, share their thoughts and experiences with the youths at the training.

The Entrepreneurship Development Programme, as implemented by ALF in the South West, is basically to address the rising and perennial problems of youth unemployment and the attendant social, political, security and economic problems that have permeated the entire nation.

The funds provided under a public-private partnership between CBN and the three NGOs at the three geo political zones is to support capacity building and the development of youth potentials in nation building through enterprise development for the initial pilot stage of 18 months before it is extended for a period of 42 months. This idea was informed by the positive result obtained from many other developed and developing countries.

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