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Skill acquisition: Key to the economic development – Part 2

By Otive Igbuzor
09 April 2019   |   1:38 am
Scholars are in agreement that strategies and policies are fundamental to progress and development of countries. But many Ministries, Departments and Agencies in Nigeria are without strategic plans.

[FILE] Quest of knowledge and skills acquisition

Scholars are in agreement that strategies and policies are fundamental to progress and development of countries. But many Ministries, Departments and Agencies in Nigeria are without strategic plans. For many of them, policies have not been reviewed for over a decade. Even the implementation of the policies have been characterized by discontinuity, reversals and somersaults. Meanwhile, there is no process or criteria or mechanism for filtering policy ideas in the country to capture citizens voices. Policy proposals are often not evidence based because ideas that enter into the policy agenda are based on the private interest behind them. The result is that the policy ideas are not strategic and implementation do not give the desired result leading to wastage of resources due to duplication and failed programmes and projects.

Economic development is the process by which a nation improves the economic, political and social wellbeing of its people.1 Economic development comes with modernisation, industrialisation and general improvement in the environment and well being of the people. Economic development typically leads to increase in literacy rate, increase in life expectancy, decrease in poverty rate and improvement in education and health.

The economic development of a nation is affected by the capability of governments to do the following:
To implement plans, policies and budgets that will lead to price stability, high employment, effective tax, effective regulation, trade and availability of finance for business.Provision of infrastructure and public services such as roads, power, housing, health services, education, security and agriculture. Job creation through creating the enabling environment for business, skills acquisition, technology transfer and focus on high employment generating sectors such as agriculture, mining, tourism, infrastructure and services.

From the above, it is clear that government has great roles to play in the economic development of nations. However, in doing this, there is the need to harness the skills of citizens hence skill acquisition is critical. The reality of Nigeria today is that things are very tough. There is high level of underdevelopment, unemployment and poverty. Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world hosting the largest number of poor people in the world. The government has been captured by an irresponsible elite that do not care for the masses. The government is supposed to develop plans, policies and budgets that will lead to the delivery of services to citizens and development of nations. But the reality is that over the years, it appears that government has abandoned the provision of public services such as water, housing, health services, educational services and transportation services to the people. Unemployment is high. Poverty is increasing and inequality is increasing.

Delta State is one of the oil- producing states in Nigeria. It receives huge allocations every month from Federal Government, but this has not translated to services to citizens. The allocations are used mainly by a tiny population of the state. Even if initiatives are made for empowerment or employment, the number is so few to have any meaningful impact. The way the resources of the state is budgeted and used cannot lead to any development as shown from the study of budget analysis of Delta State from 2007-2019.2

“It is also quite interesting to note that on average for the period 2007-2011, government house cum governor’s office received more budget allocation than agriculture, commerce and industry, women affairs and social development and water resources put together.

The period 2012-2013 marked a significant shift in spending as works comprising of roads, bridges and drainages got the highest allocation followed by basic and secondary education and unfortunately lands, survey and urban planning before the health and higher education sectors. Within the period 2012-2013, the office of the executive Governor receives more allocation than housing and urban development, agriculture and natural resources, water supply and resources as well as commerce and industry put together while the office of the secretary to the state government receives more allocation that women affairs and social development as well as environmental sewerage and drainages put together.

The scenario became worse in the period 2015 – 2019 as the Office of the Governor/The Directorate of Government House got more allocation than Health, Housing, Environment, Agriculture, Youth Development, Job creation Office, Women Affairs and Social Development all put together while the State House of Assembly and its Commission got more allocation than Agriculture, Water Resources, Youth Development, Job creation Office, Women Affairs and Social Development and Science and Technology put together. The Office of the Secretary to the State Government continued to enjoy its new ascendency in 2018 with an allocation of over N7 billion which was higher that all allocations (recurrent and capital) to Agriculture, Youth Development, Job creation Office, Women Affairs and Social Development and Science put together.”

This is why we must commend the private initiative by Hope Rehabilitation Centre by the Anchor of Hope Ministries. Skill is the ability to do something well, usually gained through training or experience.3 Skill acquisition is the ability to learn or acquire skills. It involves the development of a new skill, practice of a way of doing things usually gained through training or experience.

In order to address the problem of unemployment, the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) was created in 1986. Since its creation, the NDE has operated several programmes such as employment counselling services and job linkages, vocational skills acquisition training, entrepreneurial training and enterprise creation, training for rural employment promotion, training for labour based transient works, collaboration with other relevant agencies and organisations. Other interventions to deal with the unemployment problem in Nigeria by the government include the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agencies (SMEDAN), National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN) and N-Power programme. Another programme is the NDDC skill acquisition programme which intervenes in the following areas:
Food processing
Welding and Fabrication
Maritime technology
Entertainment Industry
Furniture making and woodwork
Catering and Confectionary
Modern Printing Technology
Fashion Design and Tailoring
Home Management (Tie and Dye)
Solar Power Maintenance
Computer Technology/Programming

In Delta State, one of the main focus of the SMART agenda of the Okowa administration is Strategic Wealth Creation Projects and provision of jobs for all Deltans. But despite all these interventions and agendas, unemployment remains very high especially among the youth partly because the programmes are not well implemented, and the number reached is so small that it cannot make impact in the society.

There is a direct linkage between skill acquisition and economic development of nations. Skill acquisition will lead to employment, wealth creation and assist in the provision of infrastructure and government capability to improve the economic, political and social well being of the citizens. Studies have shown that acquisition of vocational skills leads to significant reduction of poverty among those who participate in the programme. 4 Similarly, skill acquisition programmes often go along with entrepreneurship skills which helps the recipients to create wealth. Scholars are in agreement that Nigeria’s social and economic problems will be drastically reduced if people are given adequate vocational training.5

Furthermore, skills are required in all aspects that will lead to economic development. Skills are required in trading, road construction, building of houses, health services, education, security, agriculture, mining, tourism etc. The productive capacity of any nation depends on its ability to harness the skills of its citizens.

Finally, some scholars have shown that skills acquisition contributes greatly in elimination of joblessness, development of positive attitude towards work, development of entrepreneurial ability and building self-reliant young people which ultimately leads to technological advancement, reduction of poverty and crime rate in society.6

God created every human being with some talents and abilities. God expects us to develop and use these talents and abilities for the service of God and humanity (Matt 24:14-30). 14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

God calls upon us to use our skills and talents. For instance, in the building of the Tabernacle, there were artisans that were called by God (Ex 35: 30-35).
30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts.34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others.35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.
God prepares us for different vocations with the talents and abilities that he has endowed us with. For instance, while Cain was a tiller of the ground (Gen 4:2), Abel was a keeper of sheep (Gen 4:20-22). It is the gift that a man has that will make a way for him. Prov 18:16
16 A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.
What you need to do is to stir up the gift in you (2 Tim 1:6):
6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
Six steps to stirring up the gift in you:
Look inwards, discover it. FOCUS
Develop, redefine, practice it. You need 10,000 hours to be exceptional in an area that you already know. Back to school, apprenticeship-PASSION/TEACHABILITY
Package it into a product-ENTREPRENEURSHIP- why should I pay for low quality service when I can get the best? – selling tyres on the net. My competitors, branding.
Build a team
Forcefully market/sell your product or get a marketer
Be consistent: don’t give up, trust God.
Project Hope has given you the first step. You need to follow through. God has played His part by endowing you with talents. You need to play your own part by refining the talent and developing it into a means of earning a livelihood.

Let me conclude this lecture by commending the idea of Hope Rehabilitation Centre established to restore hope to broken lives. The beauty of the initiative is that the focus is on those who are neglected by government and society namely:
(a) Those who could not make their secondary school papers and have no means of continuing their education. (b) The youths that lost their sponsors (Parents) as such have no one to turn to. (c) The handicaps those who for one reason or the other are physically deformed. (d) The ex-convicts who have been involved in criminal activities in the past and as such nobody wants to give them a helping hand. (e) The criminals who are still active in crimes and have offered to change and to learn trade to support themselves. (f) The inmates of our prisons. Those who are still in prison serving various jail terms. (g) Those who as a result of lack of family direction and had no opportunity of attending school or learning any trade or skill.

Another important aspect is that the focus of the centre is comprehensive including engineering, arts and crafts, printing and publication and agriculture. The skill acquisition programmes under the various departments include:
Engineering department:(a) Auto-Mechanical Workshop (b Auto-Electrical Workshop (c)Welding & Fabrication Workshop (d) Aluminum Fabrication Workshop (e) Panel Beating (Auto-body Repair) Workshop (f) Spray Painting Workshop (g) Refrigerators and air conditional repair workshop
Art and Craft: (a) Sewing/Fashion Design shop (b) Water cane weaving workshop (c) Hair Cut and Plating Shop (d) Shoe Making and Repair workshop (e) Bag Making Workshop (f) Soap manufacturing shop.

Printing and Publication: (a) Computer composing Workshop (b) Graphic Art Workshop. (c) Printing workshop (d) Filming, processing and plate exposing workshop. (e) Binding and stitching workshop (f) Photography and Photo finishing workshop.
Farming: (a) Poultry (b) Piggery (c) Fishery (d) Pineapple Orchard.

I understand that the Centre is currently running fashion and design, shoe and bag making department from where we have graduands today and that the welding and fabrication will start soon. We pray that the Almighty God will bring in sources and vision helpers for the full implementation of all the courses designed for the Centre in Jesus name.

Finally, let me congratulate the granduands. You have received this training through the benevolence of Rev & Mrs Thomas
Okwute free of charge. Freely you have received, freely give (Matt 10:8B). You should be good ambassadors of the Centre and Christ. Be an example onto others. As you have received help, go into the world and help others. But more importantly, have heavenly focus and make eternity.
Congratulations and God bless you all.

Igbuzor, PhD Founding Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), In the said paper presented at project hope 13th graduation ceremony at Ute Okpu in Ika North East Iga, Delta State.

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