Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state has urged students in higher institutions to acquire entrepreneurial skills, stressing that having a certificate on its own may not guarantee university graduates the desired best of life.
The governor spoke at the 4th edition of the students sensitization programme on ‘Even a Professor needs a skill’, a campaign that has been taken to four higher institutions in Delta state by Ovie Success Ossai and Ezekiel Okoh, both aides to the governor of the state.
The entrepreneurship campaign was held at the 1000 capacity hall of Delta State University (DELSU) Abraka where a large crowd of students abandoned their classes to listen to lectures and speeches on becoming entrepreneurs, away from the hustle and bustle for civil service jobs which have become rare commodities in Nigeria.
Dr. Okowa who was represented by his chief of staff, Tam Birisibe, noted that the essence of the programme was to prevent undergraduates in the state from ending up in the unemployed group like many others that are still in search of a job many years after graduating from the university.
Okowa stressed that times have changed, adding that in the past, a graduate before going for national service corps had a job offer waiting for him.
He said: “In the 60s in Nigeria, if you were a university graduate, the day you start working, the companies that sell cars will come to your office and give you the keys to a Peugeot and Volkswagen cars for you to test drive for three or four days and if you like the car, they will sell it to you.
“You had the opportunity of taking a loan then and paying it off in three years. These things do not happen anymore. These days if you wait for a job from the government or a company after graduation, you will end up waiting for up to 10 years and it will never come.
“This idea to organize this awareness seminar from the office of the governor is a laudable one.”
He narrated how a qualified medical doctor became a sought after baker where he bakes cakes used during occasions like wedding ceremonies, where clients are to book three months to their events because of his large base of customers.
This example, he said, should inspire students to start pursuing developing skills and not just passionate about obtaining a degree only, as making a living is not only about having a certificate.
Ovie Success Ossai, who is the anchor man behind the campaign, told the large crowd of students that the programme would be a plus to their lives, either now or after their graduation.
In a separate interview, he told Emeraldng.com that the programme has received accolades from different classes of people and students across the state, hence the continuous large turnout of students on all campuses so far visited.
He said: “The amazing thing is that the programme has always received a warm reception from the students. The kind of acceptance we receive whenever we visit campuses in the state is unprecedented.
“Our drive behind the programme is a result of the rate of unemployment in the state and the country in general. We are disturbed by graduates roaming the street with certificates without job.
“After due consideration, we came up with the programme tagged “EVEN A PROFESSOR NEEDS A SKILL” to enlighten students across the state on the need to get a skill and be self employed after graduation, and from the testimonies we receive, some of the participants have engaged themselves in various skills and are currently doing well.”
He said the campaign is targeted at students against the generality of youths because “that is where we have majority of the youths whose mindset is aimed at getting white collar jobs after graduation. And in order not to add to the number of unemployed graduates, we decided to take this programme to the students and prepare their mind toward the future.”
He said the crowd which has always attended the programme is an indication of acceptability and cooperation among the campus students, noting that many of the students have taken the programme as their personal programme, hence the large turnout.
Ossai said the quantum of reception and acceptability the campaign has received is unprecedented, insisting that higher institution students across the state have always given rapt attention to the programme.
On his part, Ezekiel Okoh explained of the objectives of the programme as to give students a new orientation from laying emphasis on certificate for employment to looking inward to developing and acquire skills while in school; growing a new generation of student entrepreneurs before they graduate; bringing to the door step of students various government incentives available for entrepreneurs and reduce the pressure on the government to provide jobs.
He posited that the reason behind the caption is to demonstrate to students the importance of skill acquisition, noting that as educated as the professors may be, they still need a skill.
Delivering his opening address, Professor Victor Peretomode, Vice chancellor of the university, noted that in the past, it was easier for graduates from the polytechnic to secure employment than those from the university because it was thought that those from polytechnics had skills from their practical experience and not theories like what obtains in many universities.
He added: “Today, there is a high level of employment because everyone is waiting for the government to employ them.”
According to him, the management in DELSU has keyed into the SMART agenda of the Okowa-led government, as it now runs a skill acquisition centre where indigenes of the university host community, numbering 75 and others are beneficiaries from the training, saying that the best performing students will be giving starter packs at the end of the programme.
Besides the governor who was represented by Tam Brisibe, ; Engr. Jude Sinebe, commissioner for higher education; Barr. (Mrs.) May Iyasere, commissioner for commerce and industry; Professor Victor Peretomode, Vice Chancellor, Delta State University, Abraka; HRM Akpomeyoma Majoroh, Ojeta II, Ovie of Oruarivie Abraka Kingdom, represented by Chief Prince Aruegodoro, and a host of others were in attendance.