The Centre for Educational Development Research of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, which has the mandate to promote entrepreneurial culture and mind-set, skill acquisition, self-employment, economic independence and self-actualisation for Nigerian youths, had remained comatose for some years now.
The inactivity which had negatively rubbed off on its mission of training, business enhancement programmes for artisans and small scale business operators, workshops to teach and spread the message of entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity, and development research stemmed from the total withdrawal of financial support to the centre by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. In those years, the centre witnessed a beehive of activities with high human traffic seeking to acquire one skill or the other.
Then, CBN, which was the major financier, was happy with the results coming out from the centre. Funding of programmes/trainings was a regular thing until the management of the centre changed hands leading to erosion of confidence and trust between CBN and the institution which led to a lull in activities.
However, things are now changing for the better for the centre with the setting up of a new and result oriented management led by Professor E. O. Ezeani by the institution. To recreate CEDR, the new management hit the ground running by organising 2015 edition of Entrepreneurship Week with the theme, ‘Graduate Self-employment: A Veritable Tool for Nation Building, last week.
This was buoyed up by the assurances given to the CBN by the university that old things had passed away and that all had become new. The event, which was attended by thousands of students from the university was designed to expose and motivate the youths on the need to become employers of labour instead of job seekers.
The entrepreneurs that were on hand to tell their success stories include Dr. Poly Emenike, MON, Chairman/CEO, Neros Pharmaceticals Ltd, Chief A. C. Okafor, OON, Chairman/ CEO, Chikason Group of Companies, among other business tycoons.
In his address, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Julius Okogie, represented by a Deputy Director at the Commission, Dr. Abdulkarim Obaje, commended the organisers of the event on the choice of the theme, which he said was apt and significant in line with the Federal Government’s policy of making entrepreneurship education and self-reliance the cardinal agenda in the delivery of functional education at the tertiary level.
Okogie reiterated the readiness of the Federal Government and its agencies to support all institutions, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, the private sector and other stakeholders in finding sustainable ways of entrenching the culture of entrepreneurship among university students.
His words: “The rising rate of unemployment among Nigerian graduates has informed government’s decision to regularly review the relevance, practice and delivery of higher education in the country. “This review has established an obvious gap in the entrepreneurship background of the students irrespective of areas of specialisation. “This is just the beginning of the long walk to economic and social freedom for our graduates and the national economy at large. We are laying a solid foundation for a future where we talk more of entrepreneurial programmes in our universities.”