Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that the absence of a robust, well-modelled quality technical and vocational education is responsible for the frightening national unemployment figures.
Governor Obaseki said this while delivering the 2018 National Alumni Lecture of the University of Ibadan Alumni Association, in Trenchard Hall, Ibadan, on Friday.
Other eminent Nigerians that have delivered the National Alumni Lecture include former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Grace Alele-Williams; the immediate-past National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief John Odigi-Oyegun; the late Chief Bola Ige and Gamaliel Onosode, amongst others.In the lecture entitled, Technical Education and Skills Acquisition As Imperative for Youth Empowerment, Obaseki said that a lot has to be done to change the perception of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) by fostering public support, redesigning the institutions and putting them under quality management.
On his return to the school for the Alumni Lecture, the governor, who graduated from the university in 1976, said “It is indeed a great pleasure to return to this great institution, an intellectual haven that molded me in the very best traditions of research, leadership, administration, the arts, understanding of the values of life and the centrality of human progress as the measure of labour.”
According to him, “we have neglected technical and vocational education for far too long. The discrimination that polytechnic graduates still suffer after graduation is a clear illustration of this situation. Many technical schools have been converted to regular schools to produce all sorts of “certificates”.
“Others are simply glorified institutions with nothing technical about them; certainly not in the curriculum, not in technology nor in the faculties, facility and general infrastructure. In this way, we have gradually lost the vision and mission of producing a cadre of skilled young Nigerians to perform technical responsibilities in government, industry and general services.
“It is no wonder therefore, that many foreign investors bring their own staff using legal and underhand tactics to comply with or evade the quota system for expatriate labour.”
On reforms in the TVET sub-sector in the state, he said, “We closed and redesigned the Government Science and Technical College in Benin, and we are currently rebuilding it to reflect contemporary requirements for a full-fledged technical college. We have equally redesigned the courses to make them demand-driven. The World Bank being impressed by these strides has contributed 1.2 Million Dollars (400 Million Naira) to this project and is set to invest an additional 2.7 Million Dollars (one billion Naira) in the coming year.”He said the state government is carrying out surgical restructuring on the tertiary institutions, which include the restructuring of the state College of Agriculture into three new campuses in Iguoriakhi (Edo South), Uromi (Edo Central) and Agenebode (Edo North) as well as the Edo State Polytechnic in Usen (formerly Institute of Management and Technology), which is being repurposed to serve the needs of the state and the private sector.
On the state government’s job creation drive, he said, “In order to further create stronger linkages between industry and job seekers, one of the first initiatives of my government was to create EdoJobs, an initiative that has now evolved into a Skills Development Centre. The objective was first, to obtain data on the numbers, qualifications, locations, and interests of Edo youths. Second, was to provide training and employability support, and the third was to match the trained youths with private sector employers through the new synergy we have established. So far, over 45,000 jobs have been created through self-employment or placements with the private sector.”
Noting that there has been an aggressive drive to reposition the state as an investment destination, he said, “The State Government has designed a development strategy based on widespread consultation with stakeholders. Based on our six thematic pillars – Institutional Reform, Economic Revolution, Infrastructure Development, Socio-welfare Enhancement, Environmental Sustainability and Culture and Tourism.“We have commenced the design and the development of a 996 hectares Industrial Park and development of the Benin River Port. We have also successfully launched a new industrial programme including revision of incentives to investors, introduction of new technology in revenue collection, establishing a Public Private Partnership office and an Edo Investment Promotion Bureau, initiating an Ease of Doing Business campaign and establishing an Industrial Park.”
Earlier, the National President, University of Ibadan Alumni Association, Dr. Kemi Emina, said that Governor Obaseki’s leadership style in Edo stood him out for this year’s lecture.
Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, said that the number of graduates produced yearly requires a well-planned strategy to integrate them into the Nigerian economy.
Olayinka said graduates would need to augment their education with technical education and vocational training to be able to surmount the challenge of unemployment.