Gov. Obiano bags Entrepreneurial Governor of the Year Award, as 2015 Entrepreneurial Challenge Ends in Grand Style.

Each year, Nigerian Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education and other Tertiary Institutions, both public and private, churn out tens of thousands of graduates; few with first class honors or Distinction, some with second class upper division, so many others with second class lower division and a host of others with third class and pass which is popularly called “Let my people go”.

These young graduates, most of whom are ill-prepared for the harsh realities of seeking for jobs, are unarguably faced with the unsavoury economic situation of Nigeria. Again, there is no assurance of job considering the competitive nature of the labour market and the fact that there are little or no opportunities in the market. These graduates are left to jostle for the few positions left in the federal and state civil service, parastatals, the NGOs and private organizations. The woes of job seekers in the country are legion as they are usually subjected to hard conditions.

Entrepreneurship is the art or science of innovation and risk-taking for profit in business. World over, entrepreneurship is seen as a way to aid government in creation of jobs. Recently, schools and degree awarding institutions have started awarding degrees on entrepreneurship; such that young people can now offer courses in the science of innovation and risk taking for profit in business.

Presenting his keynote address entitled ‘Combating Unemployment In Nigeria: The Role of Entrepreneurship’ at the grand finale of the Nigeria Entrepreneurship Challenge and Enterprise Awards 2015 held at Prof. Keneth Dike Library Auditorium, Awka, the Anambra state capital, Very Rev. Monsignor (Prof) JohnBosco Akam, Founder/Chancellor Tansian University, Umunyia Anambra State noted that a lot has to be done in other to achieve the required result. He therefore called on government at all levels, to make “soft loan schemes” available to as many as have acquired skills but have no money to set up their businesses, adding that “this will make those who would have shunned self employment to come and embrace it, for their own welfare or good”
According to him, skill acquisition centres should put in place in all the communities, to teach all kind of skills to unemployed youths, towards self-employment, even as he further called on the Universities, Polytechnics, Monotechnics, Technical Colleges and all schools responsible for grooming youths into skillful graduates to rise to their responsibilities. “Government relevant agencies should wake all schools from their slumber, through stringent measures. Government on its part should provide the needed equipment and ensure that the trainers are properly trained first and adequately motivated”.

Hence, when Mr. David Agu, a young law graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and the Publisher of Aluta Newspaper and The Entrepreneur Magazine came up with the idea of empowering Nigerian youths through entrepreneurship, it was indeed seen as a laudable initiative. 

According to Agu, “it is a platform which has empowered youths in no small measure; as some of the contestants actually had lots of knowledge to be thankful for. Firstly, the competition is a free for all contests at the point of entry. In the screening exercise held in Anambra and Enugu states, the contestants were made to present their products within a specified number of minutes in the presence of judges who are also young people who have consistently distinguished themselves in their fields of study and various engagements”.

Some of the goods and services include ice block chest/cooling van, furniture design/carpentry, household products like toilet/car wash/liquid soap, cybercafé business, bead/bag making, clothes making/fashion academy, book writing, catering, perfume production, decoration/ cake making, data management for organizations, paint production, football performance/entertainment and tailoring.

Contestants were assessed based on the presentation of products/goods/services and the contribution such could make in the society and the idea behind the business. Also among the judging criteria were the marketing skills, the business forecast, the employability, the ability to improve oneself either by informal or formal education, the talents and the skills of the intending entrepreneur, amongst other strong points.

Agu noted that “scoring of the contestants was in two halves. The first half of the scoring was by the judges based on the performance of the contestants at the screening. The other half was made after the contestants return the proceeds from the sale of six copies of The Entrepreneur Magazine”. 
When asked the reasons for mandating the contestants to sell the magazine, Agu explained that it was a way of testing their marketing skills; that is the ability to convince someone to buy a product which according to him is one of the most important attributes of an entrepreneur.

During the first edition, it was solely handled by Mr. Agu, but this second edition was in partnership with the office the Senior Special Assistant to Anambra State governor on Youth Mobilizatio, chaired by Hon. Tony-Uche Ezekwelu. 

In his remarks, Hon. Ezekwelu noted that empowering the youths means empowering the society and also assured that some of the youths, especially the indigenes of Anambra state, will be given special consideration in the youth programmes of the Chief Willie Obiano administration. He also noted that the current administration is interested in adding real value to the system through real development. He also assured the contestants that the Governor Obiano loves and has passion for the youth.

Ezekwelu also revealed that a programme is currently being designed in partnership with Spain for capacity building of Ndi Anambra youth. While regretting the fact that some young people insist on travelling outside Nigeria for support and the “supposed greener pasture”, he added that in time, foreigners will be coming into Anambra in search of same good life. He advised the youths to think big, dream big and compete based on internationally accepted standards. 

Ezekwelu, who drew lessons from his own life and career, noted that certificate does not in any way say the amount of knowledge one has, but only shows the quality of information in someone. He, however, advised the youth to continue acquiring knowledge with the aim of creating opportunities, while noting that the government of Chief Willie Obiano indeed appreciates the input of Mr David Agu the initiator of the programme and said that in the next edition of the Entrepreneur Challenge, government presence will be seen and felt.

Over 50 intending entrepreneurs from the different parts of the country signed up for the Nigerian Entrepreneurship 2015 Challenge. Out of these, only one person won the star prize. However, cash prizes were giving to others who made the final list to support their already budding businesses. 

High points of the event was the presentation of cash prizes to the winners of the various innovative contest which have creative slants that are aimed at giving the young entrepreneurs an edge in the market and the conferment of a special Youth Enterprise award on the Governor of Anambra state, Chief Willie Obiano, by the Entrepreneur Magazine Crew and other distinguished Entrepreneurs which included, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, Chairman/CEO Orient Group Ltd, Very Rev. Monsignor (Prof) JohnBosco Akam, Founder/Chancellor Tansian University, Umunyia Anambra, Chief Dr. Innocent Chukwuma, Innoson Group Ltd, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, Vice Chancellor Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, among others.

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