A non-governmental organization, the Centre for African Renaissance, Reformation and Development (CEFARRD), says it will equip 10 million Africans with skills and knowledge that will make them relevant in the 21st century knowledge economy. The theme of its project is, “Every youth a skill project Africa.”
In a statement in Lagos on Friday, the President and Founder of CEFARRD, Dr. Chidi Okpaluba, says he believes there are no useless or worthless beings. “All we have are men and women who have no skills or training that will give them decent jobs and good quality life.”
The statement partly reads, “We believe that the human capital of any nation is the most critical and important part of that nation. It is the human capital that can think, create, envision, imagine and bring solutions to problems and when the human capital is neglected, the nation is doomed to a life of poverty. Little wonder we have so much poverty in Africa.
“No skilled human being will be unemployed. The poverty ravaging Africa today is largely due to the fact that its leaders are neglecting to develop its most critical resources and killing each other over natural and physical resources.
“Our oil cannot drill itself, or refine itself. Our oil requires our human capital to be exploited and harnessed.
“So every youth a skill project Africa is aimed at training 10 million youths in the next 10 years on skills and knowledge that will make them relevant in the 21 century and move them out of poverty.
“This is not the same with the much touted skills training all over the country. This is a total man approach to skills training which starts from mind transformation, inner man change and then skills impartation.
“We are calling on various state governments, local governments and federal government to join hands with us and bring this to our people thereby eliminating poverty in the country.
“Much of the crime today is linked to youth unemployment. Let’s get our young minds engaged.”
Okpaluba continued, “Africa is still very backward in all indices of development. Is it human capital development index where we are the lowest almost in the world? Is it poverty clock? Even Nigeria is rated the poverty capital of the world. Nigeria that has about 200 million people has more people living in extreme poverty than India that has over one billion people…
“We are also aware of the massive restiveness of the youth that is going on in the country today with its attendant problems of insecurity and others. So the major problem affecting development in the country today is insecurity, and without security, there can be no economic growth. We can see what is happening in the North-East region of Nigeria and the North-West region. Between Kaduna and Abuja today is like a death trap where travellers are kidnapped for ransom. They are all looking for money.
“So, we realise today that most of our youths are not just unemployed, they are unemployable. They are unemployable because they have no skills. That is why you have so much illegal migrations. The number of Africans that have died in the Mediterranean is alarming. It is so because most of these young people have no single source of livelihood. And they have no skill. So, they are not even migrating to add value to the economy of where they are going to. They are migrating to depend on the economy. But if they are skilled, they are not going to have this kind of problem.
“By 2050, more than 50 per cent of young people on earth will be staying in Africa. Africa has a population that is 65 per cent youths. So ‘Every Youth a Skill’ is a concept we developed to massively train youths in various life skills from auto mechanic to building technology to carpentry, to roofing technology, to plumbing, to electrical works, to massage therapy, to manicure and pedicure. There are over 350 life skills that these youths can be trained on and they will become instantly useful to the society. They become instantly employable or they can even start a business of their own.
“So, ‘Every Youth a Skill’ is a solution we developed which can train massively up to one million people at a time within six months. Now, we have combined three things in this training. We combined this key training, and we also brought in the mind transformation programme, and then we brought in the apprenticeship programme. We know today that even Harvard has come to believe that the apprenticeship programme of the Igbo is one of the biggest sources of capital in the world. They used Alaba as a case study.
“So, most of these idle youths have a challenge: mental challenge, psychological problems, beliefs that are not productive beliefs. So part of the training starts with mind transformation, then the skills impartation, then mentoring them and guiding them into transiting to real life situations.
“We have done two to three very successful pilots and they are working perfectly. We just concluded another pilot in Anambra State where we trained a hundred and three youths in about seven skill sets: manicure, pedicure, make-up and facials, massage therapy, 3D flooring, confectioneries and cosmetology and photography. Each of these guys has started doing something in that direction. The massage therapists have started making money. In fact, they started making money the first day they left the camp because we didn’t just teach them the skills, we also showed them where the opportunities are in the industry where they work. Imagine a youth that has no job before and suddenly the youth starts making N20, 000 to N30, 000 a day from her own creative work. You can be sure that will reduce prostitution, you can be sure that will reduce so many ills of the society.
“Now, look at the North. They say 87 per cent of the poor people in Nigeria are living in the North. Imagine if these people are trained and equipped, it will be difficult to recruit them into Boko Haram. You know most of the young people following IPOB today in Igbo land have no job. So insecurity cannot be isolated from unemployment. And if you want to tackle insecurity in the country, create jobs for the young ones.
“We have developed a system where we can simultaneously train one million people within six months in different states of the federation. Imagine if you remove 10 million people from the extreme poverty. These 10 million people can begin to fend for themselves. For instance, these people we trained in Anambra State, none of them will be in extreme poverty again forever. Most of them can transit to become rich and employ others. The guys that did 3D flooring, one of them got a contract of about N4 million to make a compound for somebody. This is somebody that has been idle. So, I’m surprised when the President said our youths are lazy. Nigerian youths are one of the most hard-working set of people in the world. They are not lazy. No one has given them direction on what to do.
“So, if you know your younger brothers, cousins, relatives that are not working, instead of dashing them money, instead of all these money politicians dash them…there are so many politicians that have huge money allocated to them as constituency projects, use it and sponsor these young people and you will be sure you will begin to eliminate all these small, small fraud around the system.
“In Anambra State, the government equipped them with start-up materials. So, we didn’t just train them, we gave them start-up kits…there is a young lady that does manicure for my wife and I. I interviewed her and she told me that in her worst day, she makes N15, 000. She said the minimum number of bookings she gets in a day is five.
“We equip them and we mentor them. We created whatsapp group for all the different skills set groups we trained and I interface with them every single day. We also have a local staff in Anambra who also interfaces with them on a day to day basis if they have issues. Then, we have a quarterly meeting to review what they are doing. After training them, we help them to do a business plan and make goals for themselves including making them to write a cheque of what they want to earn in the first one month.
“American economy was not built by university graduates. It’s built by blue collar workers. Henry Ford was an ordinary mechanic. Thomas Edison was a technician. Wright brothers, they were ordinary bicycle repairers.”