It was encomium galore for Bishop Mike Okonkwo at the 9th graduation ceremony of 105 students of the Empowerment for the Less Privileged (ELP) Foundation as Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the beneficiaries of the vocational programme commended him for providing free skill training for the youths.
At the colourful award ceremony held at Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Sanwo-Olu and some of the graduates acknowledged Okonkwo’s contribution to empowering the youths with vocational skills training to promote self employment.
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mrs. Yetunde Arobieke, appreciated Bishop Okonkwo for establishing the ELP foundation and using it to address unemployment among the youths, one of the key challenges facing the nation.
He said: “One of the challenges we are grappling with today especially in the area of security and safety of lives and property is attributed partly, to lack of opportunities for young people who constitute about 60 percent to be gainfully engaged.
‘’This initiative must therefore be commendable and showcased for other well-meaning privileged individual to emulate.”
Sanwo-Olu acknowledged that the foundation since inception has trained over 5,000 youths in various vocational skills for free and will continue to provide opportunities to more youths.
The governor stressed the need for the youths to embrace technical and vocational skills for self-reliance and to drive the socio-economic development of a nation.
“We need to align our orientation with the reality that the so called white collar jobs are decreasing by the day. There are enormous opportunities in the technical and vocational field,” he explained.
He congratulated the graduating students and implored them to apply the skills acquired to justify the time and money invested in the training.
In his remarks, Bishop Okonkwo, said he gets excited when people think out of the box and urged the graduates to connect into what the Lagos State Government is doing as regards wealth creation.
Okonkwo, who is the presiding Bishop of the Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), thanked the 105 graduates for completing the training, noting “we have a generation that is in hurry to do things. When you are in a hurry, you run into problem.
He said due to lack of white collar jobs, the youths must embrace skill acquisition to eke a living, adding “everything you are looking for, is in this country. Don’t leave the country.”
Bishop Okonkwo challenged the 105 graduates to train others and be employers of labour. He promised that ELP foundation will continue to provide free skill training to the youths.
A member of ELP Foundation Board of Trustee, Dr. Harriet Akubuiro, said the ceremony is meant to celebrate the 105 graduates and that some of them have produced works on display at the exhibition stand.
Dr. Akubuiro gave a breakdown of the graduands, 50 from Mushin and 55 from Agege. She said 11 graduates obtained Distribution in different skills.
The guest speaker and the nation’s foremost female carpenter, Mrs. Dayo Tukuru, applauded the efforts of Bishop Okonkwo through ELP foundation which empowered youths with free training in different skills.
In her presentation, Mrs. Tukuru, tutored the graduates on how to succeed and revealed how she started carpentry with just N20 and in a room in her family rented apartment.
Her words: “The era of white jobs is over. Skill acquisition is the in thing now. Some professionals don’t earn what I make every month. You have not participated in this training to go about begging, take advantage of it.’’
Two graduates, Taofeek Latifat and Uwem Dickson, both recorded 81 percent grade, expressed gratitude to Bishop Okonkwo for the free training which has empowered many youths.
“This programme has made a huge impact in my life as a benefactor. With gratitude I thank Dr. Mike Okonkwo, board of trustee members, coordinators and staff for their efforts towards this programme,’’ Uwem noted.
Eleven of the graduates who obtained distinction were presented with different working tools.