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OPINION: Gov Ahmed: Working together for better Kwara. By Abdulwahab Oba

Date: 2017-12-11


Few days ago, Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo flew to the ancient city of Ilorin. Although the Presidential jet that ferried him landed in the afternoon, many residents had been waiting for his arrival since early in the morning. But whether at Ajase Ipo, where he was to commission the International Vocational Technical and Entrepreneurship College (IVTEC) or in Ilorin, where he had to be in two locations for different purposes, the people waited, patiently.

Indeed, some, like guests at the site of the multi-million dollar syringe production plant built by a former legislator in the state, had to wait well past seven in the evening to host the ebullient Osinbajo.

Osinbajo's state visit to Kwara since assuming office as Vice President in 2015, speaks of the continued positive rapport between the Federal Government and the state, both under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Kwara is feeling the impact of the Federal Government in terms of social infrastructure unlike in the past and the state government is supporting that development with its own provision of the right amenities and the creation of an enabling environment for human capital development.

IVTEC is a vocational training centre designed with the contemporary work situation in mind and a look into future possibilities. Osinbajo was full of praises for this vision and pledged on behalf of the Federal Government to push the idea of the IVTEC to other component parts of the country. Ahmed had explained that the college, built at a cost of N3.2 billion over a five year period, has affiliations with the City and Guild of London and Alfred State College. IVTEC will also prepare students for the City and Guilds of London qualification, National Business and Technical Education Board (NABTEB) certification and other vocation-specific qualifications. The Governor also explained that the vision behind the College was a deep desire to equip youths with skills for self-reliance, tackle unemployment, and ease access to vocational training of international standard for students from a variety of skills and educational backgrounds. He pointed at the absence of such centres in Nigeria, unlike what obtains in other nations of the world which are using the platform to address youth challenges.

His words: "Saudi Arabia, for example, is investing over One Billion Pounds in the provision of about 40 Vocational Colleges across the kingdom to train its target of 400,000 youths by 2023. Globally, Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training has been identified as critical to growth, especially industrialization. As you are aware, Nigeria's previous experimentation with technical education has faulted in the face of neglect and an expanding gap between the schools' curricula and the needs of the economy."

He then gave a winning hint: the state is already partnering the World Bank to train 17,000 youths identified as vulnerable in the state, starting with an initial 80 students at IVTEC.

On his part, Osinbajo, while admitting that Nigeria had, before now, lacked technical centres tailored around existing talents of Nigerian youth and the needs of the country, condemned the current dependence on imported skilled artisans from neighbouring West African countries to undertake artisanal works in the country, to the detriment of a high number of talented Nigerian youths with aggressive mind to succeed in trade, commerce and entrepreneurship.

To the Vice President, IVTEC is one of the major, important projects any government could undertake. He then promised that given what he had seen at IVTEC, the Federal Government would see to its replication across states in the country, adding that the vision for establishing the college tallies with the agenda of the Buhari administration of a Nigeria that produces all that her citizens would consume.

And once done inspecting the facilities at IVTEC, the Vice President headed for the Ministry of Commerce and Cooperatives where several small and medium scale businessmen and women had been waiting. They were part of the MSMES Clinic that opened the previous day but would for a long time continue to savour the almost personalised interaction they had with the number two man at the event. The Clinic is a major part of the Buhari Agenda of stimulating the growth of small businesses by allowing them access to the right information from the right source; linking them with funding opportunities that were hitherto inaccessible.

One memorable statement from the event was this: "The only way that we can make sure this country succeeds not just in industry, manufacturing etc but also in providing jobs for everybody is by ensuring that we assist those who are doing serious work either as market women, small businesses, manufacturers, small traders, we must encourage them with credit. But it is a working relation with government and those who are doing small business. We must work together to make sure that we achieve this."

And from there, the Vice President headed for the site of HMA Medical Limited, a US$15 syringe and needle production plant, with an installed capacity to produce 200 million syringes and 350 needles annually. At take-off, the plant has employed 120 people with indirect jobs for about 600 others.

Although it was late into the night, the Vice President showed no sign he was either tired, or in a hurry to fly back to base. Instead, he took time to inspect almost every detail of the facility and reiterated that the Federal Government would continue to create an enabling environment for indigenous industries and manufactures to thrive and creates jobs.

That creation of such an environment is also the goal of Kwara state and given the connection between the two tiers of government, it is likely that we would still have to wait at the Ilorin International Airport to receive Professor Osinbajo who will come to commission yet another set of projects, both public and private.

As we wait to invite Mr President to our state, it is expedient that as citizens, we should join hands with government, especially through paying our taxes. And we shall be ready to receive President Muhammad Buhari in the state.

Oba can be reached via e-mail: abdulwahaboba@gmail.com

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