By Chinelo Obogo and Merit Ibe
Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Obiora Okonkwo, has called on the federal and state governments to use the Igbo apprenticeship system to address youth unemployment in the country.
Okonkwo, who made the call in his keynote address at the 2022 edition of the All Markets Conference, organised by Ndigboamaka Progressive Traders Association in Lagos, said the Igbo apprenticeship scheme has the capacity to mop up the army of unemployed youths and engage them meaningfully .
He said the scheme, which has proven to be a success among the Igbo people and helped create wealth, can be replicated across the country with government providing the needed guarantees for startup funds.
“I call on governments across Nigeria to explore the benefits of the apprenticeship system practised by the Igbo people and use it to address youth unemployment and fight criminality.
“What it takes is a policy on the placement of willing youths in businesses that will take them through tutelage for a period of time, while government empowers them with startup funds upon completion”, he said.
According to him, unemployment has become the biggest contributor to insecurity across the country, adding that for government to effectively tackle the situation, it should begin to think out of the box to see other ways of addressing the problem.
Okonkwo, who in 2020 instituted a research at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Business School on how to revitalise the Igbo apprenticeship scheme and reposition it to become the new model in tackling unemployment, said the report of the study, which was publicly presented in October 2021, should form part of working and policy document of government on addressing unemployment in the country.
He said: “In October 2021, the report of the study which I instituted at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Business School into the Igbo apprenticeship scheme was presented at the university in Awka.
“The report made far reaching recommendations s on how to reinvent the scheme and position it as the new framework for addressing unemployment in the country.
According to him, “traders and tradesmen must also be able to help government by opening themselves to new idea and make the scheme work so that, together, we can all address unemployment which has fed insecurity across the country”
My idea is that while you train our youths over some incentives, government can guarantee to provide startup funds to enable the apprentices become self-employed. That will go a long way in reducing unemployment and crime in the country,” Okonkwo added.
Meanwhile, Ndigboamaka Progressive Markets Association (NPMA), Lagos, yesterday endorsed Governor Sanwo-Olu for a second term in office.
The association also honoured Sanwo-Olu with an award for his good gestures to the traders. The plaque of honour and endorsement took place during the association’s All Markets Conference 2022, with the theme, “Development and sustainability of the nation’s economy.”
During presentation of the award, Chinedu Ukatu, member, Lagos State Market Advisory Council and chairman, planning committee of the event, said the honour was given to the governor for his numerous contributions to the growth of the association. According to NPMA, the governor listened to its cry and completed some abandoned roads leading to various markets in Lagos and also made one of the members of the association, a member of the state market advisory council.
Accepting the award and the endorsement, Governor Sanwo-Olu, noted that politics was not about fighting or waring but a matter of choice. He promised to serve the state to the best of his ability, admitting that he is also a trader as he ensures to govern the state well.