Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Prior to the advent of the computer age, the younger generation had respect for the dignity of labour through hard work and long suffering with a prospect of ending with a much more viable and sustainable source of means of livelihood. These were days youngsters attended school or learnt a trade with zeal, zest, commitment and undivided focus because these processes were considered foundational for dreams and aspirations to come to fruition. They were not the days young people chased money by every means possible in order to withstand societal pressures. These were not the 21st Century days when young people believe old things have passed away and everything has become new as evident in the Fast Money and Fast Lane Syndrome ravaging the society nowadays. Erosion of societal norms coupled with moral decadence have all combined forces to wreak havoc on youths following excessive exposures to the internet and cyberspace.
Youths now appear to be lazy, unintelligent and impatient for genuine course; instead cyber crimes, rituals, cultism and all forms of anti-social vices have become the order of the day unlike in the days of moral justification and civic education, when boys and girls respected elders and had passion for genuine courses. Thus, the need to reawaken the Igbo Apprenticeship Spirit becomes very paramount in order to remodel and redirect the minds of youths especially in the Southeast region of the country towards being patient to undertake rudimentary trainings and capacity building sessions to enable them to acquire technical skills and knowledge in chosen careers.
It was the dire need to address the challenge of apathy amongst youths for apprenticeship programmes that the National Summit On Igbo Apprenticeship was organised in Awka, the Anambra state capital with the theme “Repositioning The Igbo Apprenticeship Scheme For Sustainable Economic Development.” The summit which was organised by the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) and the Awka Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture ( AWKACCIMA) was an occasion for the cross fertilisation of ideas by various authorities well-grounded in the Igbo apprenticeship scheme in order to chart a new course of action for youngsters in the Southeast region and the country at large. The summit which had the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of United Nigeria Airlines Dr. Obiora Okonkwo as the keynote speaker alongside other resource persons, was indeed a forum for young Nigerians to give reasons they rather prefer the Get-Rich-Quick Syndrome mantra to patience and long suffering learning a trade or a skill. Some of the youths who bared their minds at the summit held that youths were not to blame because they believe times have changed and the Android age has come to stay.
Glory Ogueyin, a student of Mass Communication Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka Anambra state, who was a participant at the summit observed that young people no longer showed interest in Igbo apprenticeship as every youth opts for the quickest way of making money. She however suggested that rather than compel young people to undergo such rigorous processes like apprenticeship training, they should instead be exposed to acquiring high income skills which she said were products of the computer age as there seems to be a paradigm shift from the old order to a new order even though she said the high income skills were very expensive to acquire. Another participant at the summit who identified himself as Dickson Opiaifo, a student of Mass Communication Nnamdi Azikiwe University, observed that youths no longer want to learn a trade and everybody according to him wants to get money at all cost thereby escalating crimes and criminalities in the society. He said one of the veritable ways government can curb moral bankruptcy amongst youths is to reward hard work and make labour more attractive for youths.
The Convener of the summit on Igbo Apprenticeship Dr. Uche Nworah said the essence was to reignite the conversation on Igbo Apprenticeship as he believes young people these days are no longer patient. Nworah maintained that the idea was to position the summit to address pertinent issues regarding ‘Igba Boi’ in the Southeast region. He recalled that in the past, people could wait up to 9 years learning a trade but nowadays it is no longer the same due to impatience and excessive crave for material wealth. Although he was cognisant that Information and Communication Technology currently rule the world, Nworah informed that the task was how to juxtapose ‘Igba Boi’ with ICT to obtain more favourable results.
On the other hand, keynote speaker at the summit Dr. Obiora Okonkwo recommended that as Igbo people, the culture of the land stipulated such values as respect for elders, hard work, the sanctity of human life, honesty, fairness and indeed the avoidance of anything the society considers to be evil even though he expressed deep concern that such ethical orientation and values have become extinct in the present day. According to him, for Ndigbo to pull through and bring back ‘Igba Boi’ as apprenticeship or ‘Nkwado Ogaranya’, youths who hold the future of the Igbo nation in their hands must begin to restore those time-honoured values which he said saw our forebears become great entrepreneurs and the envy of the world through the apprenticeship system.