Anambra Homecoming Festival 2019 started on an unusual note, a Preparatory Success Masterclass for its teeming youths. For over four hours, hundreds of youths in Awka, the Anambra State capital, received business tutorials from some of Nigeria’s most successful entrepreneurs, corporate giants, and business moguls, Omolola Itayemi reports
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State literally returned to the classroom in December at the Access More mentoring masterclass. Setting the tone for the business forum, he spoke passionately on the basic principles of business management with a strong emphasis on ethics and ethos of entrepreneurship in an emerging knowledge economy.
The forum, held at the Stanel World Event Hall, Awka, also attracted top-flight resource persons such as Obi of Onitsha Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Prof. Pat Utomi, Emeka Okwuosa of Oliserv; Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors, Mrs. Uju Ifejika of Brittania U, Prof. Lilian Orogbu and Victor Etuokwu representing Access Bank MD Herbert Wigwe.
It was a win-win situation for entrepreneurs who were not only privileged to get free business nuggets but also had an opportunity to display their wares and trade at no cost at the venue.
Obiano said, “You must all imbibe the culture of ICT, creative economy and artificial intelligence, which is where the world is headed. Interestingly Anambra has the most brilliant youths anywhere in the world. And we need to channel that in a manner that makes sense.”
He also encouraged the youth to key into the various opportunities provided at the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Indigenous Artworks, Culture, and Tourism as well as the Ministry of Youth Empowerment.
The governor explained, “The era of what our old seasoned businessmen are doing won’t last. Recall that many years ago, our businessmen were used to doing business under the tag “and Sons Limited”. And when they die, the business dies. Unfortunately, most of them are still not learning any lesson. That’s why I have a department in the Ministry of Finance charged with educating these rich businessmen on a continuous basis. So we try to introduce them to the capital market, which is the way to go.”
Interestingly, the keynote speaker, CEO of Oilserv Group, Emeka Okwuosa, told the participants to be resilient and believe in themselves.
“Believe in yourself. Never allow challenges to deter you. Show resilience and tenacity in pursuing your goal. Acquire the necessary skills and education. Maintain high integrity in your dealings. Maintain a good balance between hard work and physical ability. Show compassion and love to the less privileged while making sure your mode of help does not create laziness in those you help. Teach people how to fish and not giving them fish all the time. And above all, trust in the teachings of our Lord Jesus,” Okwuosa stated.
The Oilserv boss believed that the economic growth of Nigeria can be accelerated by the provision of the articulated infrastructural framework even though Nigeria is not doing well in infrastructural development.
“But all this can be reversed. Yet, this report shows that there is a great opportunity in trying to reverse this. We need entrepreneurship, business opportunities, growth of the economy to be able to achieve this.
“It is not all negative. The availability of the required infrastructure certainly aids the success of our business. However, we must remember that lack of infrastructure presents opportunities for creating entrepreneurial responses that lead to success,” said Okwuosa.
On how to remedy the situation of human capacity development, he explained: “We must ensure that the objectives and strategies are clear and ensure quality universal education for the youth. Develop incentive programmes to engage private investors, revive post-secondary school trade centres and technical colleges to train the youth in skills required to secure employment. Improve teacher quality, review school curricular and encourage monitoring varsities and other higher institutions.”
Royal father of the day, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha, in his own remarks, said, “If it does not happen, and delinquencies set in, the country is at risk because the youth are restive. We must do something to realize the dream of standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world.”
Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs, Indigenous Artworks, Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, who launched the maiden edition of the homecoming festival and the Anambra State Diaspora Portal described the festival as a huge investment on human capacity development especially the youths.
“The masterclass mentoring programme is indeed a masterstroke by this administration to empower the youths of Anambra. The calibre of discussants leaves one in no doubt that the session will be a turning point for the participants. For tourism, we launched project Smart Jobs where over 3,000 youths are trained on an e-commerce portal based on discounts they get from hotels. From our registration exercise, we have over 500 hotels in Anambra,” Mbanefo said.
Chairman Stanley Group of Companies, Stanley Uzochukwu said the world is serious in building an entrepreneurial culture for the youth and that any effort to deliberately create sustainable business owners is seen as an uncommon step towards changing the societal narrative. He stressed that entrepreneurship is important as it has the ability to change a life, improve the standard of living, helps to drive change and innovation.
The event was ended with a concert featuring 2Face (Innocent Idibia), Rude Boy and Funny Bone.
Homecoming Festival 2019 was themed ‘Festival of Unity, Love, and Peace’. Following in the footsteps of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which adopted reggae as one of the 300 cultural events that unite the world. Its reggae festival from December 28-30 shut down the south-eastern area as residents and diasporans rocked to the reggae sound.
Awka was in a party mood as the very popular Golibe festival took over from where the reggae festival stopped. Christmas carols, street carnival, masquerade festival, Ikolo concert and performances by Anambra Cultural Troupe were part of the non-stop fun with award-winning musicians Davido and Flavour thrilling Awka people on January 2 and 3, 2020.