BY ROSEMARY NWAEBUNI
As Nigeria’s labour market continues to bloat on a daily basis, with youths constituting the highest percentage of unemployed persons, Delta state government has resolved to correct the faux pas of having her youths roam the streets in search of employment. Accordingly, a series of laudable multi-sectoral entrepreneurial programmes for the advancement of youths have been rolled out in the state. The programmes among other things, aim to make the youths self-reliant, superlative economy drivers and outstanding employers of labour.
Latest in the series of youths’ empowerment programs of the state is the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Programme (TEP). The Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Programme is a novel initiative of Delta State Government, borne out of the need to encourage entrepreneurship spirit in students with innovative business ideas in State-owned Tertiary Institutions of learning.
The Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Programme piloted by the State Ministry of Youth Development (MYD), is designed to train and set up eligible Undergraduate Students in the State-owned Tertiary Institutions with exceptional entrepreneurial drive that needs capacity building, mentorship and business start-up support to realize their dreams through a venture capital arrangement.
In line with the cliché, “An initiative whose purpose is not clearly defined and well understood is bound to suffer inevitable abuse”, the youth ministry embarked on a sensitization and enlightenment tour to seven state owned higher citadels of learning headed by the initiator of the program, Commissioner of Youth, Comr. Ifeanyi Egwunyenga with a view to sensitising the institution’s management and students on the nitty-gritty of the program.
The sensitization train which took the ministry’s team to Colleges of Education Warri and Mosogar as well as Delta State Polytechnic, Otefe, Oghara was well received by the institutions’ Management and students. The Commissioner clarified the essence of the program, its benefits and how the students can take advantage of it to secure a better future for themselves. He reiterated government’s commitment to the advancement and development of youths in the State as part of the Stronger Delta Agenda.
For Comr. Egwunyenga, the tertiary institution environment is not an unfamiliar terrain, having spent better part of his student years in the comradeship of student leadership including the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). Egwunyenga who presently oversees the affairs of the State’s Youths under the auspices of Ministry of Youths Development, had no problems delivering the TEP crusade as he could easily feel the pulse of the students and flow with them effortlessly.
Delivering his message on TEP, Egwunyenga revealed to the students that the era of over reliance on white collars jobs which were limited and most times, nonexistence, was no longer fashionable for future growth. He awakened and sensitized them on the need to think independent, entrepreneurship, envisage themselves as great business moguls, pace setters and solutions to their generation. He made them understand that his speech was not meant to psych them up without concrete action to make it happen but that government had designed a well-thought-out program in realizing this vision.
While acquainting the students with the goals and objectives of the State Government’s Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Programme, the Youth Commissioner averred that the program was one of Okowa administration’s unique Youth entrepreneurship scheme targeted at students of tertiary institutions.
He posited that TEP was aimed to empower and equip students who have brilliant entrepreneurial initiatives with the wherewithal to enable them concretize such innovative entrepreneurial ventures in order to add value in advancing the economy, become great entrepreneurs, employers of labour and compete favourably with their counterparts in any part of the world.
The Youth Commissioner intimated the students on the guidelines, criteria, legibility and application methodology for the program. He revealed that the program is open to students of Deltan State origin across the seven State Government owned institutions of higher learning who are between ages 18 and 30 years.
For a prospective applicant in the university to qualify for the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Programme, he or she must be either in 200 or 300 Level. Those in the Polytechnic must be in National Diploma (ND) 2 or in Higher National Diploma (HND) 1. For Colleges of Education, the students must be in year two or three (NCE 2 or 3) in order to be eligible to apply for the program.
Academic performance is another important criterion for consideration in applying for the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Programme. The students in either the university, polytechnic or college of education must acquire a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) 2.5.
Intending applicants are to apply for TEP online when the program it advertised via the ministry’s portal. With the online application, interested applicants can afford to apply for the program anywhere, using the internet via their phone or any cybercafé. Intending applicants need not travel to Asaba before accessing the application form.
In this program, government is exceedingly interested in achieving huge success as it would amount to wasteful venture if the expected results were not achieved. With this in mind, TEP is for persons who have innovative and bankable business ideas that he or she is seriously ready to develop in concrete terms. It is very imperative that such persons, passionately exhibit exceptional entrepreneurial drive.
Within two weeks, the Commissioner for Youth and his entourage, which included the Permanent Secretary, MYD, Ms. Ngozi Mgbolu, Director, Youth Enterprise Development, Mr. Emmanuel Emekpeje and other staff had completed the sensitization tour to the participating institutions of higher learning.
The participating institutions for the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Programme are Delta State University, Abraka and all its campuses; University of Delta, Agbor; Delta State University of Science and Technology, Ozoro; Delta State Polytechnic, Otefe-Oghara; College of Education, Warri; and College of Education, Mosogar.
Nevertheless, some students of Delta State origin in higher institutions outside the State may sought to know whether this program is limited to only students of higher institutions operating within Delta State?
The Commissioner declared that the journey of a thousand miles must begin with a step. This laudable program therefore, would begin with the State-owned institutions, noting that its further expansion most likely, would be dependent on the level of successes recorded at this pioneering stage. He clarified that there would be diligent follow up, mentoring, monitoring and evaluation of the beneficiaries to ascertain the program’s ability in meeting its set goals and objectives.
In all the schools visited, Egwunyenga admonished the students on the need to take the program seriously by matching their various innovative ideas with excellent entrepreneurship acumen in managing successful businesses in line with the objectives of the program, to encourage government in rolling out more laudable ventures for the advancement of youths in the State.
He further encouraged the students to key into the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Programme (TEP) as the State Government would stop at nothing to ensure that their brilliant innovative business ideas were refined and nurtured into brands of international standards.
The Commissioner urged the students to get themselves abreast with the ministry’s series of youth developmental programs by following the ministry through its various social media handles (website, Facebook, instagram and twitter) as the application portal for TEP would be opened in no distant time.
While fielding questions from the students on their concerns in government programs, Egwunyenga conveyed Governor Okowa’s passion in developing youths of the State, noting that he mandated the training for TEP across the State government owned institutions.
At the Delta State university, Abraka campus, the Vice Chancellor. Prof. Andy Egwunyenga commended the Commissioner for Youth’s capability in reorientating and rebranding the mindset of youths in the State and fostering unity among them. “You are indeed a definition of one trained behind the mill before occupying pubic office”, he acknowledged.
Continuing, Prof. Egwunyenga said that the Commissioner for Youth represented a true definition of determination and commended Governor Okowa for appointing him as Commissioner to pilot the affairs of youths in the State. He thanked the Governor for the various landmark youth empowerment initiatives embarked upon by his administration.
The Vice Chancellor, Delta State University of Science and Technology, Ozoro, Prof. Stella Chiemeke expressed delight in having the Commissioner in the institution personally to acquaint the students on government’s programs meant for them.
She applauded the Commissioner’s charisma and vibes that positively ignited the atmosphere whenever he finds himself among youths and students and described the TEP initiative and other youth development programs of Governor Okowa regimes as one that would print his administration’s name in gold in the anal of history.
Students of the various institutions visited expressed their delight that government could have their welfare in mind to orchestrate such well thought-out program that would guarantee a better future for them and make them compete with their counterparts globally. They prayed God to bestow on the Governor great wisdom in the administration of the State’s affairs even as they expressed eagerness to embrace the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Programme.