Keynote Address By Gov. Ahmed’s SSA Youth Development, Saka Babatunde, During #KwaraYouthReinvention2018

I am happy to welcome you all to the first of its kind innovative youth gathering tagged Kwara Youth Reinvention 2018 with the theme “Inspiring youths towards Innovative Thinking, Self-Reliance, Economic Growth and Sustainable Development.”
First and foremost, I want to express appreciation to His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed for his passionate interest in Youth Development and for approving this programme and several others.
Today’s event is significant considering that it coincides with celebration of the International youth Day as declared by the United Nations. This year’s celebration focuses on “Safe Space for the youths: A Necessity towards building a Stable Future” as its theme. In ensuring safe spaces for youths, we are providing avenue for our youths from diverse backgrounds to be assured of respect and self-worth so that they can effectively contribute to development, including peace and social cohesion.
Let me briefly say that in coming up with today’s event, efforts were placed on articulating the dynamism of the Youth Development policy thrust of the administration of the Executive Governor, in consolidating its numerous landmark achievements in advancing the interests and aspirations of the youths of the State in line with the current economic realities.

Taking cognizance of the fact that the youths within the age bracket of 18-40 years constitute over 60% of the population of the country, pragmatic efforts were put in place to aggregate the needs of our youths. In the efforts to address the identified needs and aspirations of our youths within age brackets of 0-19 years, we have come to realize they have innate needs for qualitative education and health programme. This had formed the focus of the attention of His Excellency in promoting education and primary health needs of our young people.
Similarly, and of greater concern to the Youth Empowerment Office is the relevance and importance of Employment and Empowerment opportunities including modern orientation which has become a major challenge not only in the country but even at global level.
The immediate past and current administrations in the State have rigorously advocated that our youths must appreciate the need to understand the economic values of their community and develop in that sequence in other to be relevant in the socio-economic value system. All these we are convinced can only be achieved through vocational education, career development, entrepreneurship knowledge and marketable skills development including the leadership development and of course positive mindset and right orientation.
This conviction have led to the putting together of sustainable Youth Empowerment and full employment for more than 5,000 youths in Kwara State. It is worthy of note that the state had organized the revolving KWABES programme where more than 3000 youths have benefitted.
The State Government has promoted Graduate Entrepreneurship/Vocational Skills acquisition training through the establishment of the International Vocational, Technical and Entrepreneurship College (IVTEC) in Ajase-Ipo, Kwara State. The College is an avenue to transform the face of development and improve the economic status of the state. It is an establishment that is aimed at building the capacity of the residents of Kwara State economically by maximizing the potentials in entrepreneurship skills such as Automotive Engineering, building Technology, and electrical Technology, ICT, welding Technology and Hotel and Tourism Management.

The State Government through the Youth Empowerment office also organized a one day sensitization workshop in February 2017, where over 600 young entrepreneurs took part; we had the support of various partners like Tony Elumelu Foundation, Bank of Industry, University of Ilorin and several other resource individuals including captains of industries.
The State also enlisted over 5,000 youths and women for the QuickWin programme and they were placed on social safety intervention scheme. The programe had deployed over 100 youths to the Fish Farm programme and had equipped more than 400 in various ICT trainings.
Similarly, State Government had collaborated with Globacom and MTN for empowerment of more than 1000 youth beneficiaries.

State Government had also played pivotal role in ensuring the our inclusion in the World Bank Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO) which was targeted at the core poor people in the society with its component in Public Workfare, Skills for Job and Conditional Cash Transfer. The Youth Empowerment Office has also played well coordinated role in the Npower programme of the Federal Government of which over 15,000 graduate youths of the state have been engaged which inversely brings in a total of #450 million monthly into the state economy by way of stipend of #30,000 per volunteer. The State Government had facilitated the participation of our youths in annual vocational skills development program of the federal government where over 1000 young people of the State have become direct beneficiaries. The last edition saw to the empowerment of all the trained youths with startup equipments.

After realizing the fact that our universities and higher institutions of learning produce thousands of graduates that are eager to work in the State but lack the needed employable skills, Kwara State youth Empowerment Office organized the Employability Advancement Solution for Youth (EASY) Career development Programme as part of the initiatives of the state Government.

This initiative equipped more than 250 youths with market – aligned knowledge, soft skills, business tools and mindset re-orientation to face the labor world challenge. The latest KWAYEP Corps initiative has engaged 2,000 youths across the state. The programme is strategically positioned to equip youths with 21st century compliant tools for career development, entrepreneurship and life mastery towards a successful and fulfilling life expedition.
I must say that these efforts of the State Government have impacted positively in the lives of great number of the youths in the State. Our Youths have also been given the avenue to give back to the community through the various Social Safety Net approaches. The rates of youths’ restiveness, drug addiction and Cultism have reduced significantly in the State through various Empowerment and advocacy interventions of the State Government.

Before I round up, I would like to appreciate our amiable sponsors, private bodies partners specifically Kwara State Internal Revenue Service, LEAH Foundation, Sterling Bank, EcoBank for their kind support. Also I should appreciate all our resource persons for your valuable time which you have devoted to this programme.
In conclusion and like I always say, the era of blue collar jobs is gradually winding up. With the present state of our economy, especially the dwindling value of Naira, an average Nigeria graduate who envisages the better necessities of life must look beyond engaging solely on public service jobs and as such be more involved in innovations, creativity, inventions and self reliance for a successful life journey. This is the philosophy that propels Kwara State Youth Reinvention 2018 which we hope will inspire our youths towards Innovative Thinking, Self-Reliance, Economic Growth and Sustainable Development.
Thank you and God bless.

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