Make Nigerian Youths Competitive with Entrepreneurial Skills, Says UN Envoy 


Peace Obi

The visiting United Nations special envoy, Mr. Jakaya Kikwete has tasked Nigeria to speedily invest in skills-based education for the youths, warning that advancement in technology would displace many from their current jobs. Kikwete maintained that only people with the right entrepreneurial skills would survive the times. Kikwete, who is the immediate past president of Tanzania made this declaration shortly after he met with the Vice President, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, recently

Stressing that African youths have bright future, the UN envoy however noted that “the first thing that the youths need now is education – education that will give them the necessary skills that are required in the job market. They need skills that even if they are not employed, they can establish their own businesses and earn some income.

“So this is where the problem lies; we have to do that now because as the situation is, by 2050, two billion jobs will be lost to machines. It is only those who have higher skills that will have the cutting edge. So if we can invest in their quality education now, when that time comes, the young people in Africa will be able to compete in the global market.”

Kikwete, who on arrival in Lagos met with his friend and businessman, Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe and former Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia among other dignitaries, told journalists in Lagos that his meeting with Prof. Osinbajo was fruitful.

“I came here to see the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. I’m a special envoy of the International Commission on Financing of Global Education Opportunity. It is a commission that was set up in September 2015 to do an in-depth study of the state of education in the world. On September 2016, we presented our report to the then Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Bank Ki Moon.

“The commission had 27 members. Africa had eight members in it. Of the eight, Nigeria had two members –  Aliko Dangote and Madam Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Already, we have finished our work and now we are at the stage of telling the leaders of the world the work of the commission because we have to start somewhere. So the commission decided to start with 14 countries in Africa. We call those countries pioneer countries with Nigeria as one of them. That is why I came here to see Prof. Osinbajo and to discuss with him.

“Now, the conclusion of the commission is that the world is currently facing an alarming education crisis which is more pronounced in the lower and middle income countries. These countries lag far behind developed countries in terms of education development and achievement. We are 70 years behind the developed countries. So the commission is looking at how these countries can catch up with the rest of the world. So what the commission is saying now is that this catching up game has to be achieved within a generation. That is why we call the vision Millennium Generation Vision.

“My visit has been very fruitful. The Vice President is on top of the state of education in Nigeria. He was appreciative of the work of the commission and the advice it has so far given. He assured that Nigeria was ready to play its role as a pioneer country in the implementation of the recommendations of the commission.”

Expressing the commission’s interest to work with various NGOs, Kikwete said, “we are talking to governments first because they have the responsibility of investing in their young people as the target. It is an important recommendation of the commission that government should also work with non-state actors in the provision of education and development of the youths.

 “When that time comes, we are going to work with credible non-state actors. Here, we have identified Baywood Foundation pioneered by Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe who is my brother and friend. Definitely, the group will be playing some significant role in that regard. His NGO has been working and investing in the young people in the past 20 years. One of the things he has been doing is with regard to education. We are definitely going to see him as an important partner in the work of the commission.”
On his part, Ibe thanked the visiting UN envoy for his untiring effort which he described as heart-warming. He recalled that the youths are the future of tomorrow, insisting that equipping them with requisite skills to challenge for the future had become imperative.
Ibe who spoke about his concern for the youths said: “We are planning a one-million-youth rally in Abuja soon to draw attention to the plight of the youths. We want every government to do something fast to ameliorate the suffering of the youths who are the hope for the future.”

In his remarks, Ajumogobia, who is also a former Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, commended the UN envoy for his visit. “We are happy for your visit and hope that his collaboration would immensely benefit Nigerian youths.”