The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, has urged Nigerian youths, especially students and young graduates, to come up with innovative ideas that will transform them from job seekers to job creators, assuring that the apex bank was ready to fund such initiatives through its numerous empowerment schemes.
He said there was already a N220 billion CBN initiative created to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and a Youth Empowerment Development Programme (YEDP), which runs with banks and the National Youth Service Corps, to enable graduates with entrepreneurial acumen to access concessionary financing of up to N5 million for innovative and job creating ventures.
Speaking at Nsukka yesterday at the Convocation Lecture for the University of Nigeria’s 47th Convocation Ceremony, Emefiele said the unfriendly economic climate should not be sufficient reason for youths to become physically and mentally indolent, even as he charged them to reason and operate as leaders of tomorrow by converting their challenges to opportunities.
“A quick historical scan of other nations, especially advanced ones, will reveal that notable strides in economic and political development occurred during the period of great challenges. In the United States, for instance, it is on record that 16 out of the 30 corporations that currently constitute the Dow Jones Industrial Average started during economic downturns.
“For example, Walt Disney Corporation was founded during the recession of 1923/24. Hewlett Packard Corporation began in 1938 during the end of the Great Depression and Microsoft was conceived during the 1975 recession.
“These entrepreneurs and innovators didn’t wait for their government to give them jobs; they created jobs for the economy. It may interest you to note that some of the wealthiest persons on earth are entrepreneurs who began with modest start-ups. Among them are Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Google’s Larry Page, among others. They were creative and saw opportunities where others saw obstacles.
“I’m sure that some cynics may say that these people succeeded because they are in the society where things work and where the government does a lot for the people. But you must also note that having graduated from a federal university, the government has also subsidised your education when you compare what is paid in private universities,” he explained.
Emefiele also listed Nigerian entrepreneurs who succeeded from hard work and focus despite their little and challenging beginning to include Aliko Dangote, Cosmas Maduka of Coscharis, Jason Njoku of iRoko TV, Obinna Ekezie who established wakanow.com and Iyinoluwa Aboyeji who at 26 founded two globally successful companies and secured $24 million funding from Mark Zuckerberg of facebook.
Also speaking at the end of the event, the Vice Chancellor of UNN, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, disclosed that students of the school have started to produce laptops called “the lion laptop”, which he said will be mass produced and sold in the country once the right funding is received.
He suggested that the CBN used the UNN laptop assembly initiative as a model and pilot scheme for national computerisation, digital promotion and facilitation intervention.
Ozumba further revealed that the university recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a US-based multinational for the uptake of agricultural products produced within the institution in line with its innovative agribusiness project.
“More so, the university has recently launched a tractorisation scheme known as Higher Institution Tractorisation Initiative targeted to be a national reference model where students will assemble, maintain and operate tractors with linkage to the communities to boost agriculture and food production in the country. Nigeria is about the least tractorised country in the world today,” he said.