By Nwabueze Okonkwo
ONITSHA – As part of measures to fulfill his campaign promises for his second tenure, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State at the weekend, kicked off his massive youth empowerment programmes with a youth entrepreneurship summit held at Nnewi, the industrial city of Anambra State.
It would be recalled that during his last governorship electioneering campaigns which later ended in a landslide victory for him when he broke the jinx and won in all the 21 council areas of the state, the governor, now fondly called 21/21 Governor, had vowed to appreciate the confidence reposed in him by Ndi Anambra (Anambra people) through the execution of all programmes aimed at empowering the youths in the state.
The Nnewi programme convened by former Special Assistant to the Governor on Youth Entrepreneurship, Hon. Eloka Maduekwe was organised in partnership with Reality Forum, a non-governmental organisation, NGO which has been engaged in philanthropic activities within Nnewi and its environs, and also supportive to the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, government in Anambra State.
The event tagged: Nnewi Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2018 with the theme: Entrepreneurship: A Panacea To Economic Development, attracted some distinguished and successful entrepreneurs and investors in Nnewi who have made great impacts on not only the economic development of Anambra State but to the growth of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
Notable entrepreneurs selected to lecture at the event included Engr. Ajulu Uzodike, founder of Cutix Plc; Dr Dozie Ikedife, medical director, Ikedife Specialist Hospital; Engr. Linus Ilozue, managing director, Chicason Group of Companies; Mr. Humphrey Ngonadi, chairman and chief executive officer, Ngonadi Group of Companies and Peedee Ofordeme, CEO, Poncad Integrated Services. They were carefully selected to impart their wealth of experience to the youths in the areas of skills acquisition and how to nurse, nurture and manage their enterprises to maturity, with financial prudence and other basic facts in business management.
In his opening remarks, the convener, Hon. Maduekwe explained that it was the purpose of the state government that the Nnewi Youth Entrepreneurship Summit would achieve the result it was meant to achieve in Nnewi North and environs and would be replicated in all the 21 council areas of the state as time goes on.
The Founder and Chairman of the Reality Forum, Comrade Uzor Nwosu assured the youths that after their skills acquisition in their chosen fields, interest-free loans of various amounts according to needs of the applicants, were ready to be disbursed to enable them start up businesses of their choice.
Nwosu who is a House of Representatives hopeful for 2019 to represent Nnewi North/Nnewi South and Ekwusigo Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, disclosed that the essence of the skills acquisition and empowerment programme was to engage the youths in productive ventures for them to have visible means of livelihood. He identified the measures as the best way to tackle crime and youth restiveness.
He noted that as the youths were veritable instruments for any societal change, they should not succumb to politicians who believe in buying the youths’ conscience with money at election times because of the economic situation in Nigeria.
He described the youths as agents of change and should always endeavour to vote for any candidate who sincerely have their interests at heart, who could genuinely expose them to reasonable empowerment programmes that would sustain them for life “and not cosmetic empowerment.”
He also disclosed that the Reality Forum was ever ready to partner with the state government to ensure that all the youths within the Federal Constituency were well empowered to be gainfully employed and become employers of labour.
The first lecturer, Engr. Uzodike who fired a salvo, told the youths to forget the idea of hoping on white collar jobs which he said, could and would never go round, adding that the best bet for the youths was to begin to learn what they could do to help themselves. He also told them to be innovative and face the area of entrepreneurship, squarely.
Uzodike, a one-time governorship candidate of People’s Mandate Party, PMP in Anambra State, warned them against the danger of relying on their fathers’ or other relatives’ wealth rather than making efforts to generate their own.
“Be innovative and do things that many people have not done. All you have to do is to start a business and begin to nurture it. You can go into partnership with others but you must be sincere and honest in dealing with others. Keep record of your income and expenditure,” the Cutix Plc founder said.
While laying emphasis on prudent spending, Mr Ngonadi said the major source of failure in business was extravagant spending which he said most often, affected negatively the working capital of the business.
He told the participants that nothing good comes so easy, stressing that they should guard against being comfortable at the expense of their business growth. Ngonadi used himself as an example of self discipline as he never spent his money unnecessarily on things that would affect his business capital at the early stage of his business. He noted that with hard work, diligence, financial prudence and truthfulness, they would make it in business.
As for Ofordeme, one of the problems youths of today have was blame game. He said they would either blame their father, mother or relatives for their misfortune instead of working hard, acquire skills and become enterprising. He said that every individual is endowed with a particular talent that could lead him or her to success, if well developed.