By Olamide Babatunde
The phrase, “Catch them young” was brought to life recently when a Non-Governmental Organization, Lonadek Oil and Gas Consultants, enlightened students in Lagos on how they can acquire skills in the oil and gas technology industries.
Organiser of the one-week summer camp, Dr. Ibilola Amao, who is also the project consultant for Vision 2020 Youths Empowerment and Restoration Initiative, noted that the summer camp was to equip and build capacity and competence of youths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, to service the energy infrastructure or oil and gas industries in Nigeria.
Amao noted that the last 50 years have been negative for Nigeria because the country is dependent on importing finished products and exporting natural resources as raw materials. “The youths are unfortunately paying the price of the mistakes of our past leaders,” she said. “But I believe that youths today are interested in change and they are more innovative and this is a good time to begin to look at how we can harness our national resources and create wealth and jobs locally.”
She further noted: “In our organization, we encourage youths not to see the bad side of the present economy but to become problem-solvers and in so doing become creators of value and entrepreneurs and generators of wealth and jobs locally. When they see problems, they use it as an opportunity to solve these problems, and create value and wealth for themselves.”
Talking about Vision 2020, Amao noted that it is about youth empowerment, career counseling and industry awareness. “Our focus is science, technology, engineering, mathematics and we believe that Nigeria will become a top 20 economy, if the right policies are put in place,” she added. “If the environment is conducive for every Nigerian to contribute his/her quota positively, the country will move forward.”
According to her, a lot of the educational processes in Nigeria do not develop wealth creators because a lot of people expect the government to do everything for them. “Every Nigerian should look inwards, starting from the young talents to creatively solve Nigeria’s problems and in so doing, transform our nation from being dependent on import to an exporter of finished products,” she urged.
Amao believes that the curriculum needs to be changed and upgraded because they are outdated. She also stressed the need for career counseling and for public/private sector to sponsor the enhancement of educational laboratories, libraries and facilities as this will enable pupils who are passionate about a specific course to go for it.
“Career counseling is very fundamental, and when this is done, they are more likely to excel and add value to the nation,” she insists. “But if parents force a particular course on their children that they don’t like or people pick a particular course because they think that they can make money from it then they are doing the nation a great disservice.”
She urged the government to focus on youth empowerment, job and wealth creation. “If we look at our natural resources, we will be able to see how we can harness and process them and be able to export our finished products and become less dependent on imported things from other countries,” she said. “When our youths have the confidence that there are opportunities waiting for them in the country, they won’t run to other countries for visas where they think that they can generate wealth.”
Kunle Adefila, one of the speakers, urged participants to set their goals because goal setting gives confidence and prevents distractions.