By Otikor Samuel
To tackle the scourge of unemployment, particularly in the Niger Delta, which has remained underdeveloped despite producing the wealth of the country, an expert in Social Development Services and Project Coordinator, Central Bank of Nigeria Entrepreneurship Development Centre, Lagos, Dr Olumide Ajayi, has listed the creation of abundant micro, small and medium-scale businesses through well-articulated development programmes with appropriate skills to translate ideas into tangible products and services as a means of ameliorating poverty among youths.
Dr Ajayi, who was Keynote Speaker at the 2nd Niger Delta History Week organized by the Institute of Niger Delta Studies in collaboration with the Professor Bassey Andah Foundation, penultimate Thursday, further stressed the need to incorporate entrepreneurship training into the Nigerian educational system and curriculum in a manner that would enable graduates set up business enterprises upon completion of their studies.
Presenting a paper titled, “Entrepreneurship Development: The Key to Economic Growth and Freedom,” Dr Ajayi noted that small and medium-scale enterprises drive economies through development and acquisition of technical and vocational skills, recommending the creation of law and policy on National Entrepreneurship Development to regulate provision of credit facilities to business operators who undergo entrepreneurship training.
Speaking on the activities of his Centre, the Keynote Speaker stated that the Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC) which is a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) project funded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and managed by implementing agencies is aimed at promoting economic growth through provision of employment-generation and micro-enterprise development services, disclosing further that the project utilizes entrepreneurship development as key employment generation and poverty alleviation tool.
“The project seeks to transform unemployed and underemployed youths from job seekers into employers of labour through person-centred enterprise and creation of business development training,” Dr Ajayi further stated, advising Niger Delta youths to translate opportunities available in the region to create wealth.
In his address, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joseph Ajienka, expressed hope that the Lecture and Workshop would identify the problems associated with unemployment in the region with a view to proffering solutions to them. The Vice-Chancellor commended organizers of the event for convening stakeholders to brainstorm on the problems of unemployment and restiveness in the Niger Delta region.
“The abundant natural and cultural heritages of the peoples of the Niger Delta suggest that the region is well endowed with the necessary resources for its sustainable development. The obstacles to the harnessing of the region's abundant potentials are also well-known and the means of ameliorating them should form the major template of this workshop,” Professor Ajienka observed, pledging his administration's commitment to sustainable development of the region through availability of requisite expertise.
The Vice-Chancellor praised the Board of Trustees of Bassey Andah and O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundations for collaborating with the University to organize the annual event, expressing delight with an Alumnus, King A. J. Turner for endowing a Chair in the University in honour of Emeritus Professor Ebiegberi Alagoa, who is one of Africa's foremost historians and Director, Institute of Niger Delta Studies, Professor Abi Derefaka for the successful organization of the 2nd Niger Delta History Week .
Goodwill messages were presented by the Executive Director of Bassey Andah Foundation, Mr Olu Andah and Chief Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs on behalf of O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, who pledged sponsorship of every edition of the Journal of Niger Delta Studies. Highlights of the event included presentation of a new book on the study of African Archeology co-authored by Emeritus Professor Alagoa and Professor Derefaka.