It has always been said that the development and future of any nation depend on the character and attitude of its youth, who are expected to be groomed for the serious business of nation building. But the ability to be able to contribute meaningfully to the emancipation of any country also depends on the capacity and capability of the youth of the particular country. Based on the age long saying that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow, it is, therefore, imperative for the society to adequately prepare them for the task of leadership in the nearest future.
It was against this background that the maiden edition of the international youth empowerment summit was held in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, with the aim of galvanising the youth for their future role in the society through a well-defined career development and mentoring programme that can mold them into what the society required for growth and development.
The programme, which took place at the auditorium of the Federal University, Lokoja, was a one-day event put together by the S.M.A.R.R.T Life Coaching Academy, and had secondary school students, undergraduates, members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) among others as participants. Apart from the audience, and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the organisation, Afolabi Olayinka, the programme also had a panel of discussants that was on hand to share their experiences on how far they have gone in their chosen careers with the youth.
Members of the panel included the special adviser to the Kogi State Governor on Health, Dr Ahmed Attah; the regional manager (North Central), United Bank of Africa (UBA), Mrs Funke Esseyin; the Director General, Institute of Mentoring and Career Coaching Nigeria, Rotimi Matthew; the Programs Coordinator, Clems Institute of Professional Learning, Tobi Emmanuel; the Chief Executive Officer, Treasures Bakery and Confectionary, Mrs Kikelomo Akande; a basketball coach, Michael Akubo and a Nollywood actress, Ajanigo Simeon.
Speaking on the programme, Olayinka said, “the international youth empowerment programme is for us to encourage the creative minds of the youth; we are at a point in our nation where motivation is at its lowest ebb, and youths are really losing hope, but we hope to bring our youths together to let them know that we are all part of the democratic process and we all have roles to play.”
Speaking at the event, Mrs Esseyin, who works with UBA, noted that it was imperative for the young ones to choose the careers that they feel could enable them get to the top. The banker was also of the opinion that parents should not force certain careers on their children, warning that such could kill their desires. Charging the audience, Mrs Esseyin said, “live your life, you are responsible for whatever you do with your life from 18 years old; make yourself ready for the job market and you will be able to attain greater heights.”
In the same vein, Mr Matthew, a capacity coach, admitted that the young ones required people who would help them turn their potentials into reality, saying that was why mentorship was necessary for the youth. According to him, a mentor is expected to bring out the best in the person that is being mentored.
In his presentation entitled, “Sound Health Accelerates Career Pursuit,” the special assistant to the Kogi State governor on Health, Dr Attah, who is also the president of Project Nigeria First, noted that only a sound mind could contribute to the socio-economic development of a country, while charging participants to take good care of their health.