Stephen Olufemi Oni, ilorin
No fewer than 45 unemployed graduates and other youths of Igbomina stock in Kwara South Senatorial District have benefited from the 2nd Edition of the Igbomina National Students Union Empowerment Programme
Empowerment tools distributed to beneficiaries at the event, held in Igbomina House, Ganmo in Ifelodun local government area of Kwara state, which was sponsored by Pastor Engr. Sunday Adebayo Babalola, included ICT materials such as Laptops; Sewing Machines for Tailors; Dryers for those interested in Hair Dressing, and Ovens for those who are into Culinary Services.
Others were three Generating Sets for those into Barbing Saloon business, and Make Up Kits for those into Mix Up Artist Busines
It would be recalled that during the 2020 empowerment programme, 14 ICT gadgets; 12 sewing machines, four ovens, two make-up kits, one dryer and one professional welding machine, which Pastor Babalola also sponsored, were given to the beneficiaries.
In his address, the Sponsor, Pastor Babalola, debunked the insinuation that he was only assisting the less privileged and youths of his Igbomina ethnic stock, averring that he had on a number of occasions rendered various forms of assistance to so many people from the other two Senatorial Districts of the State through the Bayo and Bunmi Babalola Foundation and Kwara Panacea Ambassadors, the two bodies which “are principally my eyes, ears and mouth pieces in advance of any empowerment exercises that I will participate in.”
Lamenting the alarming high rate of unemployment in the country, the clergyman said the graduate/youth empowerment scheme was part of his own contribution to reducing unemployment and insecurity in the country, while also boosting national development.
He said: “A report by the National Bureau of Statistics on March 16, 2021, said Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose to 33.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 from 27.1 percent in the second quarter. The 33.3 percent translated to some 23.2 million people being unemployed, which is the highest in at least 13 years and the second highest rate in the world. This is alarming and sad. More worrisome is that youth unemployment was 42.5 percent while youth underemployment was 21.0 percent.
“The high unemployment rate is one of the reasons we are doing what we are doing. It is said that as long as we are running the country the way we are running it, there will be high unemployment. Our outlook must change. The high unemployment rate will continue because the government will not employ all the graduates.”
Pastor Babalola, therefore, challenged the youths to make their numerical dominance in Nigeria’s population to count for something positive, saying most of the political leaders for who they had canvassed for, do not actually have their best interest at heart.
He said: “If they truly have your interest at heart, how do you wish to characterise the current situation in which vast majority of graduates who are yearly shipped into the labour market have no clearcut Government Policy which is targeted at ensuring that they don’t end up struggling like I did for more than seven years after I graduated from the University of Ibadan?
“I believe that the young people of Nigeria are no longer Leaders of Tomorrow but the Leaders and Deciders of Today! That is, if you can rise to the occasion through becoming active participants in the Political, Economic, Social and Cultural activities in our country today. As we are slowly approaching 2023, a time when the choice of a new set of political leadership will be made to direct the affairs of Nigeria at all levels, it is up to you, the young people of Kwara and Nigeria to ensure that you use your numerical dominance in population to elect credible, intellectually sound and morally upright leaders.”
To frontally combat unemployment, he urged the three tiers of government to create an enabling environment for people to establish businesses, saying once those businesses are established, the owners would pick up and employ people, thereby mopping up unemployment.
He said: “The statistics is not surprising. It will be like that. The number of youth unemployment will still grow as long as there is dependence on the government for employment and the environment is not conducive for private businesses to thrive.
“Youth unemployment is a bad thing. It may continue to grow till most of the governments at all levels change their ways. Most of our states are civil service states. They spent 75 percent or more on recurrent expenditure because they have to pay salaries and other recurrent issues and if they want to employ, it will increase the overhead. It is so sad the way we have been running the country.
“Government is the major employer of labour. When you create an environment that is enabling, you create a system whereby entrepreneurs can establish businesses and those businesses will employ more because they will need people to help them.”
President of Igbomina National Student Union, Mr Bolaji Sodiq, extolled the virtue of Engineer Babalola for his uncommon philanthropic gestures, saying the union would continue to embark on activities that would empower youths in Igbomina land.
Also speaking, the National President, Omo Ibille Igbomina, Engineer Timothy Adebayo who also thanked Engineer Babalola for consistently blessing and mentoring youths in the area, admonished the beneficiaries to judiciously use the facilities to build their future.
There were goodwill messages from the Olupo of Ajase-Ipo, Oba Ismail Alebiosu, Olomu of Omu-aran, Oba Abdulraheem Adeoti, Olusin of Isanlu-isn, Oba Solomon Oloyede including Special Adviser to the Minister of Interior, Mr Teju Ishola.
High point of the event was presentation of the empowerment tools to the beneficiaries by the royal fathers and other dignitaries.