Our youth must build confidence to sustain self, resist dependence, says Advocate
Eugene Akhamiokhor Ighabor is the Director/CEO of Africa Young Star Concepts, a youth advocacy organisation in Abuja. The 30 year old Masters student of Chemical Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Minna in this interview, said youth would need to build confidence in what they can do to succeed. learn the skills. Due to limited funding, we only helped in subsidising the cost for the beneficiaries but we paid fully for training and start-up kits for the bead-making. @SimonEchewofun
When did you start your advocacy campaign?
We started this organisation in 2015. We have been in the forefront of promoting youth and children. As the name implies, we are training the youth and the children to become stars of tomorrow. We have been hearing that youth are the leaders of tomorrow, so we want to inculcate the leadership spirit in them to become the best globally.
Our slogan is, “catch them young to build a nation’, and in building a nation, you could build a continent. But we can’t build a continent when we have not built the individual so that is what we are doing.
What has the organisation achieved so far?
For the past two years, we have organised a lot of activities like the leadership seminar for youth which we held in Abuja. We also organised skills acquisition for youth and children and then empowered them in Dutse, a town in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
For the children, we have been taking our campaign to primary schools within the FCT where we introduced the Young Explorers’ Club (YEC). This is a new concept that we initiated in schools to promote science and engineering. It is an engineering club where children are taught from videos and through demonstrations could dismantle technological devices like electrical fans and couple them again and even power them with battery.
You mentioned the empowerment of some youth in Dutse. How did you do it?
At Dutse, we trained the youth on bead making by paying for resource persons who trained them. We also got the materials with which the trainees started their bead-making business after they had trained.
Some other persons were attached to tailoring experts to
What was your challenge starting this venture?
When I started, I had just N5,000 but I was determined to push harder and I did. It was difficult for me to get the venture registered but I overcame that. When you have that confidence in yourself and determination that you can achieve things by yourself, then you will go places. Presently, I have 12 persons in the team. While four are being paid fully, the issue of funding is inhibiting payment because the other eight are volunteering but serving selflessly knowing that it’s our service to the development of youth and Nigeria.
To fund this, we have good persons coming to assist us but most of the funding has been my savings. I sometimes starve myself to ensure the venture succeeds because of the passion I have for the concept of empowering youth and children. We are appealing to politicians, multimedia, telecommunication and other corporate organisations to key into this project to bring out the best in the youth who are roaming
What do you think is the problem of Nigerian youth with your experience so far?
The major challenge is the spirit of dependence on government. We lack the ‘can do it’ spirit. The problem we, youth have is not the money for business but the confidence that we can do things by ourselves. So we are leveraging on this to empower youth to have the confidence to start their business. The President, Nigerian Institute of Training and Development (NITAD), Mrs Janet Jolaoso has said Nigerian youth should equip themselves with necessary skills to be employable.
Mrs Jolaoso who spoke through the chairman of the annual trainers’ conference of the Institute, Mr Oluwaseyi Kuton in Lagos, also said industries are not employing some of the graduates due to lack of basic skills needed to work in such industries.
She said this year’s trainers’ conference of the Institute coming up on September 12 in Enugu, will focus on entrepreneurship.
She said, “We have discovered that many youths are not employable because of knowledge gap. Educational institutions in Nigeria focused just on academics without skills and when students from such institutions graduated, the industries are not ready to employ them.
“NITAD has identified this, so we are encouraging youth to acquire skills in order for them to be employable,” Jolaoso noted.